Section J Washington

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 6, 2011

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On July 31, no trouble finding trailhead at parking lot and then hiked PCT to top of Stevens’ ski area with some snow at top. Beyond ski area the trail is mostly clear to the powerlines, but look for Alpine Lakes Wilderness boundary sign to locate PCT. There are several steep, patchy snow fields leading to Lake Susan Jane.

Solid snow south from Icicle Creek/PCT trail junction. Estimate 5-15 feet in places, tread difficult and time-consuming to follow. After a mile or so, trail reappeared as it loses elevation dropping into Tunnel Creek drainage.

Because of snow and uncertainty, retraced route back; then camped at Josephine Lake (which is off the PCT and down Icicle Creek) and abandoned my attempt to hike any further to the south; hiked back out to trailhead August 1. In my opinion it will be at least a month and maybe next year before this trail segment is free of snow.

August 3, 2011

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On August 1st I was going to check to see if the trail was clear of snow. From I-90 to the Kendall Katwalk, about 6 miles, I saw 26 downed trees that the Forest Service had recently cleared in the first two miles of the Trail. It looked like they blasted two of them.

After entering the Alpine Lakes Wilderness I counted 43 downed trees blocking the trail and almost all of them I could either step over or crawl under. Not these big guys. There were two large clusters or log jams of downed trees blocking the trail about 6 miles in on the trail in the Wilderness area.

I ran into occasional snow patches on my way to the Kendall Katwalk but nothing that needed my ice axe to traverse.

After reaching the Kendall Katwalk, the trail was buried under 2 to 5 feet of snow. I could see the impressions of where Gravel Lake and Ridge Lakes were, but they were also buried in snow. I used my ice axe in the steeper areas on my way to these buried lakes, but trekking poles would be OK if you stayed in the step impressions.

Looking across at the traverse toward Needle Sight Gap, I could see that the trail was free of snow except for a couple of small snowfields. I returned to the I-90 after hiking about 9 miles in.

July 31, 2011

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On 7/30/2011, I attempted to hike from Steven’s Pass to Snoqualmie Pass. I spent the first hour of the trip looking for the trail head. Found the registration booth on the North side of the highway when the trail I wanted was on the South side. Once on trail, crested the first major ridge and headed down the backside still in the ski area. Snow was minimal.

Part way down the back side and heading east, I checked my map, I then double checked my GPS. Both my map and GPS had the trail almost half a mile to the South of me. Neither showed the trail I was on to exist. I then hiked back up to the ridge and headed South only to not find the trail (there is something there that has rocks that make a path, but it isn’t the trail), just dirt roads under the power lines which weren’t on the maps. I spent 2.5 hours searching for the trail under the power lines. Once I found it, again my map and my GPS had the trail some 200 feet away from my location.

I followed the trail through the woods and it turned into a snow field. All snow and trees. It would have been perfect for snow shoeing. So, I chose to turn around.

Following the trail out, I found it on the North side of the power lines. It had the first sign on trail that I’d seen that day. Following it up to the top of the ridge (where the chair lifts are at for Steven’s) I discovered this was the first trail I was on earlier when my map and my GPS told me the trail was half a mile to the South of me.

My GPS is very accurate in telling me my location, just the map on the GPS was incorrect. My paper map I was using, I’d downloaded and printed that day from the PCTA website. [Editors note: The PCTA website does not have maps to download and print. Not sure what is being referred to here.]

General opinion about hiking the trail right now, wait 2-3 weeks. Trail isn’t well marked, my maps were incorrect, but the biggest issue is there is too much snow. So, much that it is a guessing game when hiking out there.

Within the first mile of the trip I’d passed ~12 hikers in different groups coming down. They’d all said they’d gone to Lake Josephine, none of them had heard of Lake Susan Jane. My guess is, they all wen’t to Susan Jane thinking it was Josephine. Any case, they all stated the same, past the lake was all snow and boulders.

July 22, 2011

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On July 18 2011, I did an overnight on a trail that links up with the PCT about ten miles south of Stevens Pass. I was heading south on the Surpirse Creek Trail which intersectes with the PCT at Surprise Lake. At Surprise and Glacier Lakes there is still 5-6 ft of snow and possible even more at Piepers Pass. Looks like another 2 weeks untill this section will be melted out enough to find patchy sections of trail. I thought the PCTers coming from the south could use an update considering they may have a challenging summer coming upon them as they make their way north. Good luck to you all.

July 19, 2011

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The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail will be closed at the I-90 North Trailhead to all users Monday July 25 through Thursday July 28 to allow trail crew members to remove a large

July 12, 2011

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There is a big jumble of logs about one mile north of Snoqualmie pass which is very difficult for hikers to get through and completely impossible for stock.. There are signs up at the trailhead telling people of the problem and advising them not to go through. Some people are going up anyway and clambering their way around the logs, while others are using the old Commonwealth Creek trail as an alternative. Several experienced sawyers have looked at this situation and deemed several of the logs too dangerous to saw, even with a chainsaw. The USFS is looking at all options for removing these logs, but will probably end up needing to blast them, which would entail closing the trail entirely for 3-4 days. They are evaluating the situation, and will keep us updated as plans materialize.

August 14, 2010

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We just came out from the PCT Detour A after starting at Stevens Pass (hiway 2) and going South. The trail is in great condition except for a tricky crossing at Deception Creek just North of Cathedral Pass. Crews are cleaning up the trail from the Closure Section North and it is beautiful when the pass through.

Some folks were disregarding the closure notice and were threatened with a fine. Please respect the Ranger’s decisions. It was obvious in talking to several that their main concern was to make the PCT passable and safe. They have done a great job with their young work crews.

There are still some brushy sections, but all-in all it was a great trail to hike. Watch out for Whidbey Island NAS fighter jets screaming up the valleys. They are loud, low, and a daily event.