Monday, January 23, 2017

Granite Lakes 2016-01-13

10.7 miles and 2,340 feet of elevation gain.

The Middle Fork road has been paved.  With the snow and freezing temperatures the tire tracks where two strips of black ice.  Fortunately we only had to travel a short distance to the trailhead.  Started with microspikes and took the snowshoes along for a ride.  There was a good track in the snow and we never used snowshoes.  The hike in March of 2016 was cut short because of the scores of downed trees that blocked the trail.  The trail is now clear all the way to the lakes.  At the area between the lakes the track vanished and snowshoes would have been useful but it was getting time to turn around anyway.

Google Maps link

The bridge over Granite Creek.

 On the trail

The back side of Dirty Harry's Peak.  It is hard to see in the picture but there are several large areas of ice that have a blue tings.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Mid-Mountain Mountain 2016-11-04

13.04 miles and 3,920 feet of elevation gain.

Nice day for a hike.  We parked at Hall Creek then hiked up to the trestle and crossed over Hall Creek to the start of the Change Creek trail. The old road heading up from the pond has been converted to a trail.  It is a welcome change and much easier to walk on.   

Google Maps link

Heading up the Change Creek trail.

The J's Landing sign has been replaced with a MMM Ridge trail sign.

The shortcut sign has been removed but the tree still bares the mark so it is easy to spot.

The old road, from the Pond trail up to the Great Wall trail, has been converted to a trail with a few 'rest stops' along the way.  Stumps have been placed in the center with carved out seats.

This used to be a gully across the road.  Now it's a great dog drink.

This is what the intersection with the Great Wall trail used to look like.  To the left is Change Creek and to the right the Great Wall.  Note the sign on the tree as a reference in the after picture below.

After the conversion it looks like they tried to hide the way to the Great Wall.

Once you pick your way through some tree branches and rubble, there is a converted trail for a short distance before hitting the road.  The road was used to bring in the equipment for the conversion and is now smooth and clear of fallen rocks.

Log + chainsaw = stool

Mt Washington from the Great Wall

Top of the of the little peak on the south end of the Great Wall.

Looking down Mid-Mountain Mountain ridge.  I spotted an orange speck on the ridge that turned out to be a hiker coming up the ridge.  I was going to talk to him about the trail conditions but after he disappeared behind the last rock outcropping he reappeared and then sat down and took a break.  Could it be too difficult to get around?

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.