Thursday, March 31, 2016

Granite Lakes Trail 2016-03-30

7.17 miles and 1,370 feet of elevation gain.

I had been planning a snowshoe trip up to Granite Lakes but trip reports indicated an impassible blowdown area just after crossing Granite Creek.  One trip report called it "Blowdown Town".  I decided to wait awhile.  I haven't seen any recent trip reports so off we went.

The trailhead is located at the beginning of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River Road, about a quarter mile from the end of the paved road.  Usually the potholes aren't too bad on this section of the road.  Today they were incredibly bad, I assume from all the heavy equipment used to upgrade the road.   The road is scheduled to be paved this year starting in late April.

New steel beam bridges were installed recently at the first creek crossing, where a culvert was remove a few years ago, and at Granite Creek.  The Granite Creek bridge replaced the temporary log bridge that was installed when the old logging road was 'landscaped' into a trail and the original log bridge was removed.

Once past Granite Creek, many of the blowdowns have been cut and cleared from the trail.  A good sign, I was hopeful the trail would be cleared.  Farther up the trail, trees were cut just enough to make a hole to get through.  At about a half mile from the bridge all chainsaw work had stopped.  You can get a few more feet up the trail before hitting the next wall of trees. 

Counting the trees not blocking the trail, there are probably several hundred downed trees.  Looking on the north side of the trail you can see large areas where well over half the trees are down.

Google Maps link

The first bridge (Mine Creek?)

The Granite Creek bridge.

The remains of the temporary log bridge.

One of the blowdown areas north of the trail.

One of the holes cut in the trees.

Looking back on the last of the chainsaw work.

This is where we turned around.  The trees are so dense that getting through would be next to impossible. Blue made a valiant effort, can you see him?  I could see much farther up the trail than what is visible in this picture and it looked the same.

pub 4/9/2016

Mount Persis 2013-03-09

This is a previously unpublished trip and one of the last hikes we enjoyed with Joy.

6.12 miles and 3,827 feet of elevation gain.

Joy had contacted a person from that knew the way to Mount Persis and the route up the mountain.  We met at a Chevron in Monroe and headed out.  We didn't make it all the way to the what is called the trailhead because of snow on the road.  I thought this was going to be a quiet out of the way hike, turns out that that was not the case.  Several people from NWHikers were already there getting ready to start.

Not long after starting up the road we took a shortcut up a steep gully to get to the trailhead and when added to the elevation on the first part of the trail, we did 2,100 feet of elevation in 1.14 miles!

Once we were on the trail we caught up to a large very slow moving group blocking the trail through the young fir thicket at the beginning of the trail from the trailhead.  It took awhile before the terrain opened up enough so we could pass.  We never saw them again.

All that aside, the views from the summit area were awesome.

While we were loading up the car after the hike, I happened to glance into the trees on the downhill side of the road.  I couldn't believe my eyes, it looked like someone had emptied out an office and threw everything off the side of the road, chair, desk, filing cabinet, bookcase and bags of garbage.

The road to the trailhead goes through Wayerhaeuser land and is closed as of  2-15-2016 because of shooting, vandalism and garbage dumping.  Apparently this is a recurring problem and the road is repeatedly opened and closed.

Here's a link to the WTA trail description for Mount Persis, it has a great picture of the shear cliff you are standing on at the summit.

Google Maps link

Another straight up climb.

Great views at the summit.

On the way back we looped through a small basin with a snow covered tarn and the best views of Mount Index.
Mount Index in the background.

Sly was ready to play not pose.

The boys had fun chasing snowballs.

pub 3/31/2016

Little Bandera 2013-02-17

6.05 miles and 3,089 feet of elevation gain.

A hike from 2013 that was not posted.

A winter hike up to Little Bandera.  We hiked up the old trail and then at 3,250 feet of elevation, we found a good spot to leave the trail and started up the hill.  Once on the ridge, we followed it to Little Bandera.  The route over to Bandera looked too dangerous to continue our trip and we had been on the trail for three and half hours.  Time to head back. 

Google Maps link

A few inches of snow at the Ira Springs trailhead.

The ridge up to Little Bandera.

Just a few more feet to the top.  By the look of the trees it must get quite windy, fortunately it was a calm day.

Looking back down the ridge.

Looking down on Mason Lake and a little sliver of Lake Kulla Kulla.

I-90 far below

Bandera Mountain from Little Bandera

Something of interest to Blue.

Looking back up the ridge to Little Bandera.

pub 3/31/2016

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Mason Lake 2016-02-25

7.28 Miles and 2,931 feet of elevation gain.

Started from I-90 at exit 42 so we would get our exercise in even if the hike was cut short.  I wasn't sure if we would be able to cross Mason Creek, where they took out the culvert, because of high water level from melting snow.  To my surprise they finally put in the bridge!  The trail was snow covered starting at about 3,100 feet.  The lake looked like it was melting by the outlet.

Google Maps link

The new Mason Creek bridge.

The bridge provides a great view of the falls.  

Is this supposed to hold the bridge if it is hit by debris coming down the creek?

 Mason Lake



pub 3/31/2016

Monday, February 8, 2016

Kent's Court 2016-02-08

8.31 miles and 1,931 feet of elevation gain.

There were several inches of snow at the McClellan Butte trailhead but the trail was mostly snow free until we were almost to the upper road (Nf-9020).  Shortly after crossing Alice Creek, the trail became less traveled and my snowshoes starting sinking 4-6 inches with every step.  It was a good workout, used muscles I had forgotten about.  Even the boys were a little stiff the next morning.  Gorgeous sunny day.

Google Maps link

A couple of pictures on the way up. 
McClellan Butte

Mount Kent

I believe this is Kent's Court.  It is a flat spot below the east ridge of Mt Kent.  You get a little bit of a "surrounded" feeling from the ridge above you.  On the lower portion of the map above, you can see how the ridge curves.  Another flat spot a little farther up the trail also has nice views but is closer to the end of the ridge but doesn't have that surrounded feeling.  Maybe it is Kent's Court.

Looking at McClellan Butte from Kent's Court.  When I took this picture I thought is was just of Blue, later I noticed the two shadows, Sly is directly in back of Blue.

Looking towards the ridge.  The Sun was just above the ridge so I couldn't take any pictures of Mt Kent or the ridge.

pub 3/31/2016

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tacoma Pass PCT North 2015-10-23

11.53 miles and 2,638 feet of elevation gain

Another gravel road ride out to Tacoma Pass, this time to hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail.  We have now hiked all of the PCT between Stampede and Tacoma Passes.

Time permitting, we were going to attempt to reach the top of Snowshoe Butte.  I planned a short bushwhack from the trail to an old logging road but lost track of where we were so we just followed the road from where it crossed the trail.  At the end of the road there appears to be a faint boot path that continues up the hill at least for a short distance.   On the way back we bushwhacked downhill for about 100 feet.  It was pretty easy and saved over a mile and 200 feet of elevation.  

Google Maps link

Taking a break at the base of Bearpaw Butte with Mt Rainier in the distance

Looking back on Bearpaw Butte.

All the 'boys' enjoying the view.

The Stewart Range in the far distance.

pub 3/29/2016

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Blowout Mt 2015-10-15

13.78 miles and 2,676 feet of elevation gain

Continuing our quest of hiking as much as we can of the southern portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, we drove out to Tacoma Pass and headed south.  Tacoma Pass is 13 miles from I-90 on gravel roads with only a couple of signs and many forks in the road.

A couple of things were unusual about this hike.  First, when we started up the hill from the pass I noticed how quite and calm it was.  When we stopped and just stood still there wasn't any sound.  Absolute dead silence and not the slightest hint of a breeze.  This continued until we were almost to the top of the hill.  The second was having a fighter jet pass almost directly overhead at a fairly low altitude.  Not tree top level but lower than what I would expect.  We were walking in trees along the top of ridge when it passed overhead, I couldn't see the jet so they couldn't have seen me.  A practice run with thermal imagery or is it time to put the tinfoil helmet back on?

Google Maps link

Tacoma Pass, drove right past it.  Earlier there was a sign indicating Tacoma Pass in one mile.  Nothing at the pass and no visible signs for the PCT.  On the right, you can barely see the PCT heading north.

The parking area.

The super quiet part of the trail.

I'm sure this is a PCT hiker made sign.  There isn't any water for many miles on either side of Tacoma Pass.

Sly enjoying the cool water.

 Gravel roads cross the PCT in several places and some have a campsite.  This was the biggest by far.

Some views along the last leg to Blowout.

The 'ascent' to Blowout Mountain.  Okay, it is more of a high spot on the PCT, but does have clear views on the north side. 

Views from the top

And a view south to Mt Rainier.

pub 3/28/2016