Thursday, September 22, 2016

Arch Rock 2016-09-22

16.83 miles and 3,060 feet of elevation gain

Started again at Windy Gap and headed south.  I had thought this section of the Pacific Crest Trail may be the end of my contiguous sections of the PCT south of Snoqualmie Pass.  However, after a lot of map reviewing I found a trailhead that gets us within about 3.5 miles of the PCT.  Probably next year.

I picked Arch Rock as my turnaround point as it was close to my distance limit.  I was hoping to see the face of the rock, all I saw was trees.  I took the short Arch Spring trail that lead to a small camp area in hopes of catching a glimpse, but just trees.  There was a boot path heading toward the rock but I figured it was time to head back.    

Not as many PCT hikers as last time.  I did get a couple of good quotes.  "Almost there, only 300 miles to go" and "Getting tired, ready to be done".  One was from a young woman and the other from an old man.  

Google Maps link

The hits the end of a road and has a great view of Mt Rainier.  Several PCT hikers were taking pictures when we arrived.   The white on the ground is hail not early snow.  The hikers told me that a large thunderstorm passed through yesterday.

 On my GPS map it showed that the PCT was on a road for a short portion this is not correct.  I wasn't paying attention and missed the trail just a few feet down from the view point.  Fortunately this wasn't a big deal and I spotted an entrance to the trail not too far down the road.  
  On the way back we followed the trail instead of the road.  On this portion of the the trail there was a lot more hail, four inches deep in some places and the hail was over a quarter inch in diameter.  Not Texas size hail but I would not have wanted to be on the trail when it came down.

Sign at Government Meadow commemorating the first wagon train over Naches Pass.  Wikipedia link on the Naches Pass trail.

The meadow looking toward Naches Pass about 3/4 of a mile away.

 Mike Urich cabin at Government Meadow.  Built by a snowmobile club.

 Also used by PCT hikers and sometimes has an unofficial host.  On my return trip I met a couple who were going to haul out the trash.  They were trying to determine if they could park their van closer.  Currently they were parked about two miles away. 

 Really nice trail south of the cabin.

Just before Arch Rock, the trail passes at the top of a large bare area that looks compacted crushed rock.  

 Stopping for a drink at the creek by Government Meadow on the way back.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Blowout Mt 2016-09-12

16.28 miles and 2,794 feet of elevation gain

Gorgeous day for a hike.  This was our next section of the Pacific Crest Trail south of Stampede Pass.  My research on Google Maps showed a gravel road close the PCT at a point called Windy Gap.  After a two hour drive out hwy 410 and a forest service road, we parked and headed down the short connector trail to the PCT.  As typical for these sections of the PCT there wasn't a sole in sight.  However, after a few miles we did catch up to a couple of people hiking the PCT and then three hunters with bows.  On the way back from Blowout Mt we continually ran into PCT hikers.  I lost count but I think about twenty.  I was told everyone was making a big push because of the nice weather.  

Google Maps link

On the way to Windy Gap the GPS said to take the road on the right, I opted not to follow that direction.  A quick look at the Green Trails map showed the good road looped around this hill and hit the other end of this road which was in much better shape.

 Forest fire from 1988 according the plaque on the other side of the burn area.  Doesn't look like it was replanted until a few years ago and mostly on the lower part of the ridge.  A lot of huckleberry bushes for the bears.

 Looking back at Windy Gap and Mt Rainier.

 About two miles down the PCT is a spring with several campsites.

 It has been many months since Blue found something wonderful to rub in, I guess he was overdue.

Fired up huckleberry bushes in one of the clear cut areas.  This is logging country.

Almost to Blowout Mt

Mt Rainier from the large flat slope area just before the top.

At the top of Blowout Mt. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Bandera Mt 2016-08-29

8.28 miles and 3,559 feet of elevation gain.

A new peak for Blue to bag.  We made an attempt for Bandera Mt in the middle of winter a few years ago but only made it to Little Bandera.  I did not see any safe way over to Bandera.  See the Little Bandera 2013-02-17 post.

This time it was sunny and hot.  We turned off at the trail sign for Bandera and headed straight up the hill.  This trail is steep and a bit of a scramble to get over the rocks.  Once on the ridge it is not too bad.  Finding the trail from Little Bandera to Bandera proved to be a challenge.  You head across the rocks and then work your way down between a couple of big boulders.  I had to help Blue and Sly down and then up on the return.  A good trail until the boulder fields just before Bandera.  This section of the trail had the best huckleberries I've had this year.

Going down steep trails that required scrambling to go up is not my ideal trail experience.  I knew a trail existed that followed the ridge all the way from the Ira Spring Overlook but I must have missed the intersection when we were going up.  So, on the way down when the trail took a turn away from the ridge I just kept to the top of the ridge and pushed through the tree branches.  Fortunately it didn't take too long before I spotted the trail.  This is a very nice shaded trail with soft tread.  On the next trip to Bandera, we will go up this trail.

We continued on to Mason Lake for doggy drinks and then headed down the old trail.

Google Maps link

Heading up the Mason Lake trail, the turn off for Bandera Mt is just around the corner.

Almost up to Little Bandera.  Putrid Pete's Peak and Mt Defiance in the background.

 Mason Lake
The top of Little Bandera.

The trail continues to the left of Blue then...

across these rocks and down a rock "chute" to the trail on the south side of the ridge.

 The final ascent is across boulders with a couple of little patches of actual trail through the trees.  A few cairns along the way.

The very top of Bandera Mt.  Just a pile of big rocks.

Little Bandera to the right of Blue.

Looking down on Island Lake with Pratt Mt in the foreground.

 The unofficial ridge trail to Bandera Mt starts at the Ira Spring Overlook before the trail starts the descent to Mason Lake.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mt Baldy 2016-08-10

7.69 miles and 3,316 feet of elevation gain.

A nice summer day for a hike and a good workout.  This hike has two steep sections.  The first is 1,017 feet of elevation gain in 1.2 miles to get you warmed up for the next section of 1,306 feet in 0.9 miles.  You do get a little break between them.  After Para Point it is a fairly easy hike.

Google Maps link

A little past the turn off for Easton Ridge is a sport with views of Little Kachess Lake and Kachess Ridge.

On top of Mt Baldy.

Just below Para Point on the way down.

Looking up towards Para Point.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kent's Court 2016-07-31

7.88 miles and 2,017 feet of elevation gain.

We cheated a bit on this one.  We drove up the forest service road, that crosses the McClellan Butte trail, and parked at the barricade.  This cut out about 4 miles from the hike if we had started at the McClellan Butte trailhead.

I intended to see how far we could get up the end of the north ridge of Mt Kent, turns out, not far.  Starting about a half a mile after Alice Creek and ending at the 'court' area, the old logging road has been decommissioned.  This was done by creating mounds across the road of dirt, rocks, tree stumps and logs.  A boot path winds its way around and over these obstacles.  Once past the 'court' area, scrub alder has invaded the road in several places.  No problem for the dogs, but for anyone over two feet off the ground it is a real pain.  We turned around shortly past the upper flat area when we hit another patch of scrub alder.

When we returned to Alice Creek, we headed down NF-9020 to add some miles to the hike and to see if there was anything interesting, there isn't. 

Google Maps link

The barrier at the end of the road.

The culvert a Alice Creek to starting to go.

Nothing says fun like guns, beer and an old serving plate.

Start of the decommissioned logging road.

McClellan Butte from the 'court'.

Scrub alder

Mt Kent
The Duke of Kent?

In the winter, when show covers the alder, you get some nice view from the upper flat spot (high court?) not so much in the summer.