WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 9-12)

In case you missed the previous posts, I’m supporting Joan as she complete this section of the PCT (link to previous post). I’m chronicling what I found to do while Joan was hiking.

Days 9-12 – Williams Mine Trailhead on FR-23 (Mile 2229.9) to White Pass on Highway 12 (2295.9)

Mt Adams Wilderness – We both hiked north on the PCT. My destination was Horseshoe Meadow, Joan’s was White Pass 66 miles away. My reward was a meadow filled with pink paintbrush.

My timing was perfect to find many blooms, and I was ecstatic with my longest hike to date since my knee surgery including 2,000′ elevation gain.

The next day was filled with waterfalls and lakes as I traveled north on FR-23. First up was Big Spring Creek Falls.

Council Lake“Council Lake is a drive up mountain lake on the north west flank of Mt. Adams.  It has a U.S. Forest Service campground.  It is stocked annually with catchable rainbow trout, but also contains eastern brook, brown trout, and cutthroat trout.”

Takhlakh Lake “A very popular campground close to the shore of Takhlakh Lake. The Campground includes ten walk-in sites. The views across the lake of Mt. Adams are outstanding. The northern trails of the Mt. Adams Wilderness are nearby. Takhlakh Loop Trail # 134 originates in the campground and encircles the lake. It’s a 1.1 mile flat hike around the lake. You can also connect to the Takh Takh Meadows trail #136 that leads you to an old lava flow.” Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Pika

Olallie Lake“This campground, on the shores of Ollalie Lake, offers 5 small sites and one larger area with room for RVs. The sites offer scenic views of Mt. Adams from the lake. It’s located in a high elevation stand of lodgepole and subalpine pine.” The trail around the lake wasn’t in as good of shape as that around Takhlakh Lake, the lake was shallower, more buggy and views of Mt Adams not as wow.

Chain of Lakes – This was the least desirable of the lakes I visited. There is free dispersed camping with picnic tables and fire rings but no restrooms. It was very buggy but maybe a fishermen’s paradise although no one was around the morning of my visit. You can access High Lakes Trail from there.

Horseshoe Lake – This was by far my favorite lake as it offered great swimming. It’s a first come first serve no reservation campground and was packed with a large father/kid group. Bugs weren’t too bad and there were views of Mt Adams. “The campground is a rustic site situated on a 24 acre lake, and offers most campers a view of the water. The campground is small with only 11 campsites. Fishing, boating (electric motors only), and hiking are available.”

At White Pass, I hiked north on the PCT to Deer Lake. This was a very somber day as I thought about Kris “Sherpa” Fowler (link) who went missing in 2016. I’ve been very involved behind-the-scenes with the search.

Old signs bring smiles, with another to add to my collection.

Good morning from a new-to-me wilderness.

I was excited to find blooming elephant head orchids.

Deer Lake

Leech Lake – at the PCT Trailhead in Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.

Joan’s last stretch was in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. This is a favorite area of mine and I’ve hiked the Knife’s Edge portion three times.

Once off trail we had a J&J day where we explored Skate Creek, a Washington State Park.

Joan’s last section of the PCT to complete is from Rainy Pass north. We attempted this in 2016 (link) but I got shin tendonitis and we had to reverse direction. This time there were fires, and although the trail was open, access was a problem. The good news is that now we had time for more J&J adventures.

Dates: July 18-22, 2021

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 7-8)

I picked up Joan at Williams Mine Trailhead (link to previous post) and after showers, eats, drinks and WiFi in Trout Lake we headed out for some J&J time.

Basket Tree or Peeled Cedar Interpretive Site, Trail #15“This is a culturally historic site in Gifford Pinchot National Forest located in a peaceful stand of old growth forest. The site includes cedar trees that Native Americans peeled to access the under bark.” We found out there are four other somewhat nearby sites of Culturally Modified Trees with the largest consisting of 267 trees with peel dates of 1804-1944 AD. We picked up a brochure at the Ranger Station in Trout Lake which details the locations.

Langfield Falls – Gifford Pinchot Forest Trail #8 is a special interest trail, built as a memorial to an old-time District Ranger, K.C. Langfield.

Day 8 – Sleeping Beauty Trail #37, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

“This 1.4 mile very steep trail starts climbing right away through a dense second-growth forest. The second-growth setting changes to old-growth Douglas fir and mountain hemlock. After 1 mile of continuous grade, the trail levels out near the ridge top. The trail then zigzags over bare rock to the old fire lookout site, affording excellent views of Trout Lake valley and the surrounding peaks. The trail ends at the base of the rock outcrop known as Sleeping Beauty. The formation was named because the profile somewhat resembles that of a sleeping woman. The formation is actually andesitic magma that intruded up into older volcanic rocks more than 25 million years ago. The andesite was exposed as the rocks eroded away. The trail zigzags over bare rock to the old fire lookout site. Rock work in the walls along this section was done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. The crest is around 750 feet long, but is only 15 to 30 feet in places, with sheer drop-offs on all sides. You can still see the eye bolts that once served as anchor points for the lookout.”

I don’t know why I didn’t take photos with my camera because my phone photos just don’t show the detail. Anyway the trail work was incredible. That’s Mt Adams in the background.

You can see the lookout wires at the top of the boulder. Joan said no thanks.

Joan enjoyed this view of Mount Hood while I scrambled up to the old lookout.

My view of Mount Hood from Sleeping Beauty lookout tower. Link to more information on history of the lookout: http://willhiteweb.com/washington_fire_lookouts/sleeping_beauty_lookout/gifford_pinchot_260.htm

Mount Saint Helens.

Mount Rainier

Team J&J Summit Success. “We conquered that peak. It was #epic.”

Hardest hike since my knee surgery.

Back in Trout Lake it was time to reward ourselves with huckleberry pancakes. I can’t say enough positives about this town. It was very hiker and traveler friendly. It gets an A+ from me.

This is Sleeping Beauty from the town of Trout Lake. Doesn’t look like a sleeping lady to me, at least not from here. There is however quite the legend about the mountain. We got a handout at the ranger station which starts out “Squaw Mountain came into the mountains and fell in love with Wy’East (Mt Hood). To get WyEast’s attention she flirted with his brother Pah-toe (Mt Adams) to the north.”

Back at camp, it was time for Joan to pack up for her next section which included Mt Adams and Goat Rocks Wilderness areas. We’d be camping independently for the next three nights.

My “healthy” dinner after a town stop.

Dates: July 16-17, 2021

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 5-7)

As a recap, I’m Joan’s sidekick as she works toward completion of this section. We are camping together when convenient and I’m enjoying a bit more variety than PCT standard fare. The previous post covered Bridge of Gods to Panther Creek (link).

Day 5 – Crest Camp on FR-60 (2198.9) to Panther Creek Camp on FR-65 (Mile 2183.0)

Both Joan and I hiked south through Big Lava Bed Unusual Interest Area although I turned around at the end and she continued north. According to Wikipedia, “The Big Lava Bed, located in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in the southwestern area of the State of Washington, originated from a 500-foot-deep crater in the northern center of the bed. The Big Lava Bed is the youngest feature of the Indian Heaven volcanic field. The 0.9-cubic kilometer lava flow erupted from the cinder cone about 8200 years ago. The lava flow traveled 13 km from the source crater. Lodgepole pine, alder, and other pioneer plants struggle to grow, seen sparsely growing between and amid towering rock piles, caves, and strange lava formations. Access into the interior of the lava bed is difficult, since there are no roads or trails crossing the lava field.”

Although I saw a few lava caves and features, it was the penstemon that grabbed my attention.

After my hike I took a detour to swim at Goose Lake.

Next was a short hike to see Panther Creek Falls. There were a lot of warning signs and relatively new fencing. I later learned a person died somewhat recently.

The best part of the day is when Team J&J are back together again.

Days 6 and 7 – Crest Camp on FR-60 (Mile 2198.9) to Williams Mine Trailhead on FR-23 (Mile 2229.9)

As Joan heads north into Indian Heaven Wilderness, this would be our first night to spend independently. We both hiked north on the PCT, but I made a loop to visit Red Mountain Lookout.

From the lookout I had incredible views of the cascade peaks including Adams, Hood, Saint Helens and Rainier.

Mount Adams
Mount Hood
Mount Saint Helens
Mount Rainier

I was really excited to hike nearly 9 miles with 1,400′ elevation gain. My knee felt great and I only had a little complaining by the rest of my body. Bouncing back after about 9-months of little activity isn’t so easy.

I also found some happy blooms to keep me company.

Columbine
Mariposa Lily
Leopard Lily

One of the cool old signs.

I was thrilled to feel chilled. How wonderful to wrap in down in July. Funny it was only 67 but when you are use to 110 and 75-80 degree lows, it takes the body a bit to acclimate.

Dates: July 15-16, 2021

WA – PCT Section H . . . as in Hike your own Hike, J&J Style (Stevenson to White Pass) (Days 1-4)

Jan and Joan were back together again for another section of the PCT. However, things were a bit different as I was still recovering from my knee surgery. So this post will mostly be about what I did while Joan was hiking the PCT. Someone needs to write a book about the best road access points and side-trip options for those providing support. I met Tim Olsen’s support crew as he was working on his FKT. They spent plenty of time researching then driving many roads so they’d be excellent candidates to share these details.

Day 1 – Panther Creek Camp on FR-65 (Mile 2183.0) to Trout Creek at FR-43 (Mile 2177.6)

While Joan hiked south, I sat in Trout Creek recovering from my long drive. I met a couple of hikers, one out for a day hike and another who’d recently began their northbound attempt from Cascade Locks.

We camped together along Panther Creek where I got to try out my new lighter weight tent. It’s a Zpacks Plexamid.

Day 2 – Trout Creek at Forest Road 43 (Mile 2177.6) to Forest Road 2000 (Mile 2166.6)

Joan headed south on the PCT, while Jan . . .

Whistle Punk Trail #59 – This 1.4 mile trail in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is an accessible interpretive trail that tells the story of forest management from a historical perspective. I enjoyed the beautiful forest path with signage explaining how the local dams and waterways were used in the logging process, and yes I found out the definition of a Whistle Punk.

Hemlock Picnic Area Interpretive Site – What once was a lake controlled by a dam for logging purposes is now a living example of a steelhead recovery site on the historic Wind River Nursery and Hemlock CCC Camp.

Wind River Arboretum – There is a trail that wanders among the mostly dead trees with interesting signage such as when the seed was planted and from where it was sourced.

Port of Skamania, Stevenson Landing, Interpretive Trail – I spent many hours wandering the paved path along the shoreline, watching the wind-driven water sports, as well visiting the local shops and eateries.

Day 3 – Forest Road 2000 (Mile 2166.6) to Bridge of Gods (Mile 2148.1)

Joan continued south on the PCT and it was my day for swimming, waterfalls, interpretive walks and our one and only night in a hotel.

Heaven & Hell Falls – With my 7am arrival I had the place to myself and couldn’t resist a swim in this beautiful pool. “Heaven and Hell Falls is the uppermost waterfall along Rock Creek which can be accessed with notable ease. The falls occur where the creek squeezes through a small cleft then bounces 26 feet over a rounded ledge and runs into what appears to be an ever-sliding canyon wall. Depending on the volume of water in Rock Creek, the falls may stretch to 50 feet or more wide, but due to the shape of the gorge below the falls, viewing the falls at higher flows may not be possible. The falls were named by kayakers who first ran Rock Creek as a descriptive of the fun factor of the drop. The small flume drop at the top of the falls certainly would be the “hell” part of the pairing.”

Steep Creek Falls – this one was a roadside stop. “The drainage of Rock Creek near Stevenson contains many waterfalls, distributed about evenly between Rock Creek itself and its tributaries. Steep Creek creates the most pronounced and easily accessible waterfall in the watershed as it veils 52 feet directly into Rock Creek, smashing on a ledge and creating a striking concave arch of water halfway down the falls. The road passes the falls such that side views as well as head on views are both possible. When Rock Creek runs lower in the summer, it may even be possible to walk behind the plume of water at Steep Creek.”

Columbia Gorge Interpretive Center, Rock Cove Interpretative Walk, Ashes Lake and Stevenson Waterfront – I didn’t have any trouble getting in my miles this day.

Crossing Bridge of Gods, even with a promised soft serve ice cream was a big fat NO.

Day 4 – It was a J&J day!

Dog Creek Falls – this is a 25-ft cascading waterfall is a very short walk in the Columbia River Gorge Recreation Area.

Guler Ice Cave and Natural Bridges Trail – Caving might not have been on my list of approved knee rehab activities. “The Guler Ice Cave is a 650 foot long cave that has a beautiful display of ice stalactites and ice stalagmites.”

I was super excited to finally see a sugarstick (Allotropa virgata), I was only wishing I had my camera instead of phone.

What a great reunion and first four days in Washington! Stay tuned for the next segment.

Dates: July 10-13, 2021

WA – Goat Rocks Wilderness, Goat Ridge / Snowgrass Flats Loop (Part 2 of 2)

After a phenomenal day of reversing the regret of not visiting Goat Lake during my 2013 jaunt, I was excited to reunite with my old friend the Knife’s Edge (Continued from Part 1)

Not a bad morning view, well except for the fact I was a bit worried about the weather given the day I had planned.

Good morning Mt Adams.

Goat Lake and Mt Rainier.

First light on Goat Lake.

Knife’s Edge on the PCT

This section lives high on my list of favorite memories. I was looking forward to hiking it as an out and back, double-dose happiness.

Memory is a funny thing. I don’t remember this rock field.

Ah, there’s that beautiful ridge, but I seemed to have forgotten all the up and down and up and down and various trail surfaces.

 

Looking back at where I’d come and where I’ll get to go again. Hello Old Snowy, I’ll skip the summit but shall never forget witnessing a proposal during my last visit. 

The views were as incredible as I remembered.

And then I found the goats.

It was great to experience the views with snow as my previous visit was in September.

This rock was my favorite to walk on. It sounds like wind chimes or broken china. I took a video during my first hike. Of course in my mind the whole section was made of this material and it was just a flat ridge. Oh memory oh memory, you are not my strength.

There is always a question of taking the high or low route. The low, or official PCT and stock rock across Packwood Glacier, comes with it’s own challenges. The high, Old Snowy route, provides views but is exposed and can be sketchy in bad weather. Of course on my way out I took the high route for the views. On the way back I really wanted to take the shorter low route but had heard mixed opinions with the majority saying they thought they might die and don’t recommend. So I elected to put forth more energy by climbing back up and over. The low route takes you across three snowfields and through several scree fields. If you look closely at the photo you can see where the path’s diverge.

My evening was spent watching fog envelop Goat Lake. It was a constantly moving ghostly figure covering and exposing only to change shape once again.

The clouds surrounding Mt Adams were putting on quite a different show.

Hello Mt Adams, where did you go? Will it rain? Nope! Just free entertainment, so much better than television.

I decided I best check the weather forecast on my InReach, such a great feature. Thankfully the precipitation/snow prediction did not come true. Temperature dropped to 34 in my tent, quite a contrast to 49 the previous night.

But this was my 6:30am view.

Would it burn off? How long might that take? I didn’t wait around to find out. It was time to get off this ridge.

The low visibility really made the flowers pop.

The Dr. Seuss-ish flowers looked like mop heads.

Soon enough it was time to descend on the Snowgrass Trail. It is touted as wildflower heaven. Will it surpass what I’d already experienced?

Meh

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 22-24, 2019

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • Mt Adams Cafe in Randall had great food, customer service and WiFi. Showers and laundry were available at Packwood RV Park.
  • I highly recommend treating your outerwear including hat, shoes, pack and tent screen with Sawyer Permethrin, and then using Sawyer Picaridin as needed. The combination really keeps the mosquitoes and biting flies at bay.
  • I got another mouse in my house at the trailhead. I recommend setting traps with peanut butter.

Resources:

Links:

 

WA – Goat Rocks Wilderness, Goat Ridge / Snowgrass Flats Loop (Part 1 of 2)

In 2013 I hiked through Goat Rocks as part of my first solo PCT jaunt (link). I left with the regret of not taking time to visit Goat Lake. I was excited to find myself in the vicinity to make this wrong right. This trip started at the Berry Patch trailhead.

I hiked the loop clockwise starting with the Goat Ridge Trail.

The first stretch wasn’t photo worthy except for these frogs. I love frogs, so no complaints from me.

As I climbed higher, I found some blooms.

Dr. Seuss flowers gone wild.

And then I found the reason I returned.

Hawkeye Point

I decided to add in a little extra credit climb. The bonus was getting to see how Goat Rocks use to be one mountain. Hard to imagine it as an extinct volcano, once part of the Cascade chain.

Goat Peak and Mt Adams

Mt Rainier was visible also.

I turned around at the saddle, not wanting to descend just to ascend for a tiny bit better view. Regret? Nope!

Loved these tiny belly flowers I found at the saddle.

Goat Lake

The namesake goats were high above the lake.

The melt was just beginning and oh that glacial blue.

The outlet of the lake creates a beautiful waterfall.

Pacific Crest Trail

The next section was transitioning from Goat Lake to the PCT. 

And then I made it to the PCT and got to camp at nirvana, the spot I’d wished for on my previous trek but my timing wasn’t right as I’d spent the previous night at Cispus Pass. On this night, I could say goodnight to Goat Lake and Mt Rainier.

Evening alpenglow.

Goodnight Mt Adams.

Far in the distance is Mount St Helens I’d visited just a week previous (link).

With the Knife’s Edge on the agenda for the next day, it warranted a separate post (Part 2). Here’s a teaser photo.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 22-24, 2019

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • Mt Adams Cafe in Randall had great food, customer service and WiFi. Showers and laundry were available at Packwood RV Park.
  • I highly recommend treating your outerwear including hat, shoes, pack and tent screen with Sawyer Permethrin, and then using Sawyer Picaridin as needed. The combination really keeps the mosquitoes and biting flies at bay.
  • I got another mouse in my house at the trailhead. I recommend setting traps with peanut butter.

Resources:

Links: