Section I Washington

July 30, 2012

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White pass to chinook pass: much more snow than we expected! Snow on all north facing slopes and in all lake basins. No visable trail for many miles, map and or GPS required. The sun was melting away any footprints within hours. Dangerous steep snow chutes the last mile into chinook pass; microspikes and poles were helpful and saved us from nasty falls twice! Lots of water in this area. There is some melted out camping on Dewey lake at the far north end, but most lake areas are snow or mud covered. Mosquitos were vicious through here and didn’t respond to deet. Lastly, when you get to the shelter (which has 6-12″ of water in it) you should continue to the right around the lake! There is yellow ribbon marking the WRONG trail off the left through the snow! It’ll save you a lot of time if you don’t go the wrong way:)

Chinook pass to Stampede Pass: snow free! Even above 6500ft! Watch your water supply, there is no water from saddle gap for about 11 miles and in other stetches in this area. We were caught off guard since the water had been so plentiful before Chinook. The off trail water sources indicated on our gps, postholer maps, and halfmiles app were all well marked and running stong. We did run into some bright orange arrows along the trail an some junctions, we’re not sure what they were for but didnt follow them as our maps said it wasn’t the PCT!

The outhouse under the powerlines is still there but VERY full and splashing is possible! Also the toilet seat is not attached, don’t fall in!!

We were passed by 4 Southbound and 5 northbound thru hikers, including Mouse, Dwayne, and Alex

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Hiked solo from White Pass to Chinnok Pass to Interstate 90 July 23rd to 28th. Snow up to 8 feet deep on trail from White Pass to Chinnok Pass in sections up to 1/4 mile long. Could see human and elk tracks heading north and some southbound.

Several thru hikers passed me heading north to Canada. North of Chinnok Pass trail is essentially bare . Some trees on trail and a 300 feet long avalanche has covered trail about 5 miles south of I-90. Met several southbound hikers that had started at Canadian Border.

July 20, 2012

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Partial Report – Stampede Pass thru Snoqualmie Pass:

Trail 100% clear from Stampede Pass to Mirror Lake. From Mirror lake on, snow makes trail difficult to find in many places and there are some dangerous zones which necessitate alternate routes for safety. Easy to lose the trail if you don’t know the route. Recommend waiting a couple more weeks or so.

August 22, 2011

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August 21st, we day hiked south from Green Pass, to Urich Cabin. There were over one hundred trees down, particularly around Pyramid Peak. Most we could crawl over or go around, but some required belly crawling under them.

PCTA Update:
BCH and PCTA / North 350 Blades crews cleared most of the logs in this area (Green Pass to Ulrich Cabin / Govt Meadows) around the weekend of September 10-11. A few difficult to remove logs remain, however, which will require USFS / Pro crews due to complexity. They are passable with minor to moderate difficulty to hikers. Still very difficult to impassable to stock due to large tree size and steep terrain.
End update.

Background:
Our crew cleared 20 logs on Saturday the 10th and another 49-50 on Sunday the 11th. On the 10th, we started at Green Pass and worked south for ~2 trail miles. E-mails traded with the BCH folks indicate they cleared the area from Ulrich Cabin / Government Meadows north past Pyramid Peak, to where we started on Sunday the 11th (and worked north toward Green Pass). We started in at the last cut log they did and worked north through the 1988 burn area.

August 10, 2011

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There’s a good chance we won’t get the PCT fully logged out on the Cle Elum Ranger District this year. Every time the rangers check on a stretch of the trail as it comes out from under snow, there seem to be a ton of down logs.

In the last week they’ve found a second log jumble about 4 miles north of Snoqualmie Pass that will probably require more blasting, as well as about 40 down logs between Waptus Lake and Deep Lake. Plus there’s about 40 miles of the trail they haven’t even seen yet (out of the 72 in the district). PCTA crew North 350 Blades have been working hard on the section south of Snoqualmie Pass, but there is a lot more to go. Hikers should expect to be climbing over some logs, and horsemen, frankly, should not even try it this year.

August 3, 2011

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July 29th to August 2nd hiked White Pass to Chinook Pass. Hit snow at Sand Lk. and lost trail found it off and on until Cramer Pass. No markers, no tags but lots of cut logs. Blow downs cut only a few miles in but no huge blow downs to speak of that caused big problems. Camped at Pipe Lake and ate with the bugs.

Next day made hard 10+ miles over snow choked wilderness. We had only map, compass and altimeter. Got to Panther Creek/Red Rx pass tired. No need for crampons, but ax is comforting. Snow mostly soft except in morning, of course and under trees (lots of trees!) Recommend getting Cougar Lake topo. White out conditions morning of July 30th clearing somewhat in late morning. I recommend using the Nat’l Park/Nat’l Forest boundary markers to track as the trail runs alongside or crosses at points.
We spent a lot of time trying to find the trail when going overland heading for known points worked best. No problem with water. One creek crossing was tricky, but Bumping River had a great log just upstream from the trail.

Lucky enough to find dry camps each night, but no other humans except on the first day. Maybe one bear scat, lots of elk and deer. Very few little critters. We did a lot of traversing some steep slopes, but we’ve seen worse. The last mile or so from Chinook was the most dangerous as the run out was very bad on the northeast slope leading to the road and the now destroyed bridge over 410. We did have tracks from Dewey Lk. which was very wet.

The whole NW is like some huge ice cube melting very slowly, snow very compact and nights are colder than usual. Experienced off trail backcountry navigation skills a must. Not sure how much more time gained by a GPS as moving on snow is slow going and the trail can lead you to some pretty hairy exposed spots. Ice ax, poles, gaiters and visual. Remember too that there is some discrepancies on elevations given on the various maps and quides available. Compass work a must. Actually if you weren’t worried about being on the trail and the tiredness factor it is a great exercise in backcountry work and did I mention it was beautiful, serene quiet splendor the whole way!!