Needed to get another camping trip in before I started a new job. So off I went to Gallagher Head Lake, WA with my buddy Dana. This area is once again off of Fortune Creek trail, near Cle Elum Lake. Taking lower 4W301 all the way up is the proper Fortune Creek Trail, which requires a lifted 4×4 vehicle, with all the usual recovery gear. It connects up with NF-160, (unmarked), which will take you to the destination. Once you get off of Cle Elum Valley Road, these forest roads have few places to turn around, much less pass someone coming the other way. They are rutted from small, meandering streams and full of large, sharp rocks. Drive slow, in 4-low. Most of the trail is in the thick of the forest so the focus is kept on the slightly technical trail. The views change dramatically once you come out into the upper alpine valley at 5600′ elevation.
The Gallagher Head Lake campsite is simply the most stunning camp location I’ve ever seen. It’s National Monument level beauty, an upper alpine lake surrounded on 3 sides by craggy mountains.
After staring for a while, we finally set up shop and began to cook dinner. The warm, sunny day quickly turned to chilly dusk as the sun set behind Hawkins Mountain to the west.
After a cold, blustery night we had a breakfast of pancakes, broke camp and headed back down the mountain. Not 15 minutes on the trail and I ruptured the sidewall of my tire on a sharp rock. Changing a tire while on the trail is expected but never welcome. It’s dangerous having to jack your vehicle on uneven ground as the vehicle could shift and fall or even tip over. The angle of the road isn’t really obvious in the pictures, it’s much steeper than it appears. It didn’t feel safe to jack the vehicle up any further so we dug a small trench to fit the full sized spare onto the vehicle.