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By Andrea Imler
Tucked up along the border of Washington and Canada is the mighty Pasayten Wilderness, home to the largest population of lynx in the Lower 48. With over 500,000 acres within the wilderness, the Pasayten provides endless remote exploration opportunities for the intrepid individual.
This past 4th of July holiday, I visited the central Pasayten Wilderness, along with my partner-in-crime, Todd. We spent five beautiful days hiking the trails and scrambling a few peaks and only met a total of two parties on the trail.
Our adventure started about 25 miles north of Winthrop at the aptly named trailhead: Billy Goat (a nearby mountain). Exiting the car, we were greeted with the typical early July mosquito welcoming crew. We quickly donned our packs, weighed down with gear, water and five days worth of food and stormed up the trail ? leaving the mosquitoes in our dust.
Making our way up and out of the valley, we had increasingly good views of the surrounding terrain and peaks. Eventually we made it to our first camp for the night on lovely larch-filled Dollar Watch Pass. We didn?t see a soul until a day later and only then, at a distance. The opportunities for roaming the high country of the Pasayten, with its green meadows (by fall they will have browned due to the sun and lack of snowmelt to feed them), larch, pine and fir forests and broad, rolling hills were plentiful. There were even some rugged peaks towering over one lake (Corral) that we stayed at.
By the end of our five day trip, we had been atop two peaks, traversed one long ridge, splashed around in two lakes and countless streams and saw many deer. We also surmounted a number of passes (11 total, with a handful of repeats given our route) ? although none are extremely daunting. Views were endless, from Canada to nearby Cathedral Peak.
You could literally spend weeks exploring the Pasayten Wilderness -- and you can even traverse it from end-to-end via the Boundary Trail (#533).
If any of this sounds appealing, make sure you head to the Pasayten.
For more information on this area, pick up a Green Trails map (#19, Billy Goat Mountain), look for the Billy Goat trailhead and scout your route!
Day 1: Hiked to and camped at Dollar Watch Pass, going up and over Billy Goat and Three Fools passes on the way.
Day 2: Headed into McCall Gulch, stood atop an unnamed pass, summited Ashnola Mountain, traversed Sand Ridge, crossed Peeve Pass and Park Pass and camped at Ramon Lakes.
Day 3: Completed the Ramon Lakes loop via the Boundary Trail, summited Sheep Mountain, re-crossed Peeve Pass and an unnamed pass and headed down to Corral Lake.
Day 4: Hiked out of Corral Lake basin, took the Larch Creek Trail, went up and over Larch Pass and Three Fools Pass and spent the night at a campsite near Drake Creek.
Day 5: Hiked back to the trailhead, crossing over Billy Goat Pass on the way out. Stopped in Winthrop for a burger and fries.