Set out on an ambitious goal to bag Silver, Abiel, and Tinkham Peaks. I was inspired after my hike up to Annette Lake in early August, having spied both Silver and Abiel Peaks.
Our route began at the intersection of FS9070 and the PCT. We opted to hike the peaks in the sequence – Silver, Abiel, Tinkham West, traverse to Tinkham East, circumnavigate Mirror lake, and follow the PCT back to the trailhead. The PCT is a beautiful and generally well-maintained trail. We hiked South with a gradual incline to the cutoff for Silver Peak at about 1.8 miles. You will pass a few talus fields on the right. See great views of Mount Catherine to the left, and just prior to the cutoff to the saddle, Tinkham will present its full imposing North Face. The cutoff was well marked. The trail begins to climb steadily over trees, roots, rocks requiring some hands until it gains a wide-open meadow. Silver Peak looms large to the North. You can see the trail zig-zagging up the talus field, until it turns to the right, rounding the hill and finally presenting the steeper trail, which occasionally requires the use of hands for most people. The trail and scramble are not exposed.
Let me say that the views from Silver Peak are absolutely stunning! 360 degrees – Rainier to Glacier Peak, and back. To the North, the peaks comprising the HomeCourt 100 were in full view today. We could see all the peaks that were not obstructed by others and delighted in seeling all the I90 peaks we have summited this season from a single vantage point. New perspectives of McClellan Butte and the Dukes were also interesting. Also, the views to the South, where one does not often see due to restricted access was great. I did not know how far East the watershed boundary extended.
Do take care towards the top, as North and West to the summit, the dropoff is rather steep. There appears to be a path down the North West ridge which would make for another great route up. The views are astounding. Many pics are included in the separate AllTrails trip report linked below for those who want to see the views, and also more pics of the route up Abiel and Tinkham. Time to the summit – 2 hours.
We descended the ridge to the saddle and found a well-worn path heading towards Abiel. We followed this, using our topo maps to keep on the ridge and saddle between Silver and Abiel. We had some route finding issues and ended up going too far to the right and had to bushwack up to the trail after descending a talus field below and to the right of the trail. When in doubt keep left, follow the saddle and look for the warning signs for the Cedar River Watershed – they are your guide and line the proper trail to the top. The trail up Abiel was more difficult than expected. It’s very steep with areas of loose rock and dirt. It has some interesting bits requiring the use of hands and can have exposure on the right side of the ridge on the way up. The summit is wooded and about a few hundred feet long. The trial continues West, but we did not follow it. There is an ammo box register. Time from Silver Peak summit to Abiel Peak summit 1:12.
We descended the summit of Abiel Peak for our third objective, Tinkham Peak. We were able to follow the path all the way down to the large meadows just north of South Silver Peak and took the trail down until we found the well-marked cutoff for Tinkham Peak. The trail follows the saddle and begins to mercilessly climb upwards on a steep forested path until you reach the base of the summit scramble block. Keep to the left initially and gain about 1/3 of the block – to the right, a level trail traverses the block – there is some exposure, however, the trail is about a foot wide, with good handholds, and stable foot placement. Traverse right – again following the watershed signs upwards – keeping right and up, a steep trail emerges taking you to the summit – some scrambling moves as in using your hands is needed until you emerge on the West summit of Tinkham. If you go too directly up or left, you will see a great scrambling ridge with some serious exposure. Be careful, follow the signs and the more established path up on the right. We missed the Mountaineer’s register (bummer as we are members) and continued to traverse the ridge towards the East Summit. The trail is easy to follow and the right side of the mountain has gradual talus slopes, making the summit feel less airy. We found another ammo register and signed the log. Time from Abiel Peak summit to Tinkham East Summit: 2 hours.
We then descended the ridge towards Mirror Lake. By now we were getting a bit tired and the trail down felt steep. Rocky at the top and close to some exposure, we took our time descending. Its a longer trail down the East side than up the West. The trail descends steeply through the forest and trees several blowdowns required careful navigation. Eventually, we dropped to the lake and walked through many campsites. A truly beautiful area and we were surprised to see many stone fire circles for campfires – they must be allowed in this area given it’s not a Wilderness area. We joined the PCT around the lake and made a long stretch across two ridges – one joining the Cold Creek trail and another up to the main stretch of the PCT where we started our day. It was nearing 7 PM and sunset was at 7:30. We boogied along beautiful black ponds ringed with bring green moss and crossed rockfall and talus from Tinkham getting to the car about 15 minutes before darkness set in. We were the last car at the trailhead save for an overnight camper.
We found this loop route of these three summits to be a truly adventurous day, full of beautiful views, challenging upward trails, challenging route finding at times and more beauty that can be truly appreciated and enjoyed in a single outing. I think doing the route up Tinkham from the East would be an enjoyable challenge and also an overnight a Mirror Lake should be on all campers lists. More pictures and my GPX files are in my AllTrails and Movescount links. Also, the more direct route up Silver Peak from the Northwest Ridge would be a good objective.
Total moving time: 6:44
Link to Google photo album: