Type of HikeOvernight
Trail ConditionsObstacles on trail:
Overgrown in places.
SnowSnowfields to cross - could be difficult
Route: Esmerelda TH (4300') to Long's Pass to Ingalls Creek at 3700' (camp). Navaho Pass trail overgrown. Plan B: up Ingalls Creek trail to Ingalls Lake (near Stuart Pass), over Ingalls Pass, and back to TH. Pervasive snow in headlight basin and Ingalls Lake, but doable in trail runners. Our group of four hiked up and over Long's Pass (20+ goats!; one small patch of snow on NE side), down Ingalls Creek for a while (VERY brushy in places), then planned to go up the Navaho Pass Trail (the north side, #1217) to camp at the pass. This didn't happen as the Navaho Pass Trail is not visible at all; Even with a GPS with the trail on it, we were still unable to find the way, and the bushwacking was downright terrible. So, we ended up camping at 3700' on Ingalls Creek at a nice campsite near the river. The camp fire was useful to dry my soaking clothes after an accidental dip in to the Creek during our crossing to the Navaho Trail. On Friday we made the hike back up the Ingalls Creek Trail and followed it to its headwaters at Ingalls Lake. I must say that the meadows we perambulated through at about 6000' below Stuart and Ingalls Peak were some of the most sublime I'd ever seen. Small creeks burbled everywhere. I'm sure that the flowers will bloom here soon as the snow just made its exit here. The trail (path, at this point) skirted the mountainside on its way to Ingalls Lake and there are cairns that mark the way. Alas, we reached the lake to find that it was snow-covered still. Only the fringes are melted out. We ate lunch among curious goats that frightened our female hiking companions. We walked along the snowy E bank and traversed the slope below the large rock formation at the S side (the rock terminates in a sheer ledge that would be hairy for those uncomfortable on rock; in fact I discovered a sling near the edge). We had to pass this formation on the snowbank near the lake. I don't think we could have done this a week later, as it was hollowing out. Once in Headlight Basin I realized why throngs make the easy trip up here to camp. It is stunning. Ingalls and Stuart loom large and I imagine both sunrise/sunset are incredible here. Superlatives really don't do it justice. The way up to the pass was still a bit snowy but perfectly manageable in trail runners. Way back to the car was uneventful. Though our group's patience was tried at times, this was an amazing trip in one of my new favorite places.