Washington

August 28, 2011

Sections: /

Patches of snow remain on trail, Stevens Pass to Pear Lake. Minor occasional blowdown, especially South of Lake Janus. (8/20).

Snow patches more persistant North of Pear Lake, thicker where trail is along Northeast facing slopes. Occasional blowdown. Saddle Gap and Cady Pass, clear. Lake Sally Ann is 50% iced over, camping area is bare and dry (8/21).

Indian pass, Clear. Occasional snow patches on way to Red Pass, bare and dry where trail is on Southwest facing sidehill. White Pass, clear. Red Pass, Clear. Upper basin of White Chuck River below Red Pass still holds conciderable snow. Trail begins to peek through in spots after first 1/2 to 3/4 mile. Snow is soft in mild temps. Snow patches decreasing on way to footbridge over White Chuck R. Occasional snow around West side of Glacier Peak to Fire Creek. Water is high, some crossings without footbridges may be wet for some hikers. Bridge at Sitkum Cr, good. Broken bridge at Kennedy Cr, still there and useable. Camps at Baekos Cr, bare and dry. Thicker, harder snow on slope south of Fire Creek camp, but tenting area at camp is bare and dry. (8/22 – 8/23)

Abundant snow on approach to Fire Creek Pass. Pass is clear. From top to Mica Lake is abundant snow with trail peeking out on steeper slopes. Mica Lake is 95% iced over, but some tent areas near outlet are clear. Snow patches persist below Mica Lake giving way to clear trail, but brushy as approaching Milk Creek. Note that Milk Creek now has a footbridge crossing about .3 mile downstream from the old destroyed bridge. Most (all?) of the maps and guides do not show the approach trail to this newer bridge. On northbound approach to Milk Creek, follow the well used path, proceeding downstream to the bridge and continue downstream after crossing to join the Milk Creek Trail. There, signage will point you back uphill and up stream to join the old PCT track. Switchbacks to gain the ridge above Milk Creek are choked in heavy brush, but bare. Minor snow sidehill along ampitheater of E Fork Milk Creek, with Dolly Vista camp clear and dry. (8/24).

Trail down into Vista Cr , v. minor snow, occasional blowdown and some brush near Vista Cr crossing. Crossing here is on low log that other hikers observed was awash in higher water. Before crossing, note also the newly cut(but not connected) approach trail to new Suiattle R Bridge,in woods 50 yards away. No signage to indicate if this route is now available, but hiker info says some have taken this new route. New approach trail goes downstream a few miles to just past Dolly Cr, finding the new bridge, where the trail then backs up river on existing track to rejoin the old PCT near the site of the old footbridge. Most hikers, however crossed Vista Cr and headed on the old PCT track to log cross the Suiattle River, punching through the brush and piled driftwood, where the trail gets to the flat sand bars. The two crossing logs located near the old bridge area still exist. Follow tracks and cairns upstream ( 200-300 yards?) to find the flater , shorter (easier ?) log to cross. Walk back downstream on user trail to find the old PCT track heading off and up, downstream into woods. Only minor blowdown on way up Miners Cr, trail improves up to Suiattle Pass which is bare and dry. Snow fields are in both amphitheaters north from Suiattle Pass, all marked camps are bare and dry. (8/25)

Trail down Agnes Cr, bare and dry to High Bridge. Hiker info is that High Bridge to Rainy Pass is clear and dry. (8/26)

Sections: /

8/28/11 Just completed Stevens Pass to High Bridge at Stehekin. Lots of blowdown on parts of trail. Some snowfields, avalanche chutes, fordings. All doable – I used ice axe for comfort level – some thru-hikers completed in running shoes and hiking pole. Some route finding due to snow covering switchbacks at Red Pass and especially Fire Creek pass – map and/or GPS will get you through. Milk creek bridge relocation and trail reroute will not show up on gps.

Heard from section hikers that the new stock bridge is up at Suiattle river (but adds on considerable length to follow trail reroute), or follow old, unmaintained pct trail and go upstream to shimmy across high log, or go a little further upstream to walk across lower log, then follow cairns back to original pct.

Challenging stretch, but doable with warmer temps making snow crossings slushy and less icy by mid-morning.

August 22, 2011

Sections: /

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 13, 2011

Sections: /

Notes; 12 person (8 boys, 4 adults) Boy Scout troop out of Issaquah. GPS & gaiters highly advised as there are long sections under snow, most north slope/shadowed areas have snow, in some areas the snow was 10’+ ft deep. Plan on snow at elevations above 5000′. Lots of downed trees to scramble under/over from Stevens to almost Waptus Lk.

Day 1; Started at Stevens pass on 7 Aug, trail through far side of ski resort good, (down trees in resort) , lost trail in snow just beyond power lines, found trail intermittently on traverse to Lk Susan Jane, on climb up to junction with trail 1551 more patches snow. Spent night at Josephine Lk, mosquitoes bad, toilet needs maintenance (still usable), lake water temp cool

Day 2; Josephine Lk to Glacier Lk, left Josephine @ 0845, and back on PCT at 0930, was in snow with in 200yds, using GPS, found very short (1 – 100 yds) sections of trail exposed. At pass above Swimming Deer Lk caught up with British ROTC group that was turning back due to trail conditions and inadequate equipment. Snow on trail until Mig Lk. Trail stayed clear except a few spots above Trap Lk, those spots were really bad as they were in avalanche chutes that were hundreds of feet down and stopped in boulder fields. Arrived at 1800hrs, all were really tired, Glacier Lk still had ice floating in it, tent locations were small/scarce due to snow on all flat areas. Mosquitoes bad, very damp location… No toilet

Day 3; Glacier Lk to Hyas Lk (Bypassed Deception Pass to Cathedral Rock section due to resupply stop at Tucquala Meadows trailhead) Started on trail @ 0900, lots of snow once out of boulder fields and at base of Pieper pass climb, trail is spotty than just disappears part way up, had to scramble/bushwack for 2/3’s of the way up due to steep snow. Once on Pieper pass summit and down to Hyas Lk just patches to cross. Arrived Hyas Lk at 1600hrs. Used camp sites in mid lake, Mosquitoes OK, toilet in good condition

Day 4; Hyas Lk to resupply at Tucquala Meadows trailhead, than to Peggys Pond. Left Hyas at 0900, did resupply, started on Tr 1345 at 1100. Passed FS maintenance crew clearing downed trees part way up switch backs, they mentioned that most trails around Waptus Lk were cleared but the PCT into Snoqualmie still had lots of downed trees and snow crossings that needed ice axes and crampons. Did lunch at Squaw Lk, than continued on to Peggys Pond. The trail (Tr 1375) to Peggys Pond is really a Mt goat trail… If you follow the well-used trail you will most likely miss where you should start a uphill route going directly to Peggys. If you missed the “Y” and continue you’ll find yourself at a small pond. From the looks of the trail, most people think this is Peggys and turn around and head back, if you head uphill from this pond you will find Peggys Pond (really an sm lake), area was mostly covered in snow from lower pond to Peggys. Later in the night the wind really blew through and was clouded/cold/damp in in the morning. Figured out that as soon as we got out from between Mt Daniel and Cathedral Rock the clouds cleared… Mosquitoes OK, south toilet has been disassembled(?), found where it had been (holes filled in), a few boards now lean against nearby tree, north toilet usable

Day 5; Peggys Pond to Waptus Lk. Once back on PCT it was a now normal hike with some downed trees to cross. Had a stream fording near Deep Lk that went well, thought the mosquitoes were going to carry off our smallest scout… really bad… Turned off the PCT at Tr 1310.1, had a pleasant night at the south end of Waptus Lk, few mosquitoes, some flies that bite, toilet in good condition.

August 10, 2011

Sections: /

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.

Sections: /

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 9, 2011

Sections: /

We attempted to go trhough Goat Rocks from Walupt lake to white pass. Starting at the lake, we took Walupt lake trail that goes east and then meets with PCT across from the Nannie peak. Start looked good and free of snow and major obstacles. Mosquitos, however, were a problem.

First snow was encountered near PCT, once we got little higher, and it was not a huge issue. Trail was always visible, or easy to spot when occasionally it was covered with a foot or so of snow. Blow downs were not that bad either. It stayed this way much of the way when we went north on PCT. On approach to Walupt creek, though, snow became more of a problem. ~5 feet of snow was not uncommon. The creek itself had snow banks on both sides, which made it quite dangerous to cross: we basically had to walk on a little patch of snow over the creek that formed a bridge. And this piece will be gone soon, which is going to be even more problematic to cross.

After that, snow became almost constant companion. 5-10 or more feet of snow, often on the trail. Steep side slopes, and constant up-and-downs make a hike quite a challenge. Many blowdowns, and lots of places where you can’t see where snow cover ends and trail continues. We had to use GPS quite often.

We made it all the way to the approach to Cispus pass. Eastern exposure ensured that the whole stretch is covered with snow, and it’s quite a steep side slope. Since we did not have ice axes or crampons – we decided to turn around, and hike back.

In contrast to the other reviewer, we found plenty of water. There hasn’t been a mile of trail where we wouldn’t see a creek of some sorts.

August 6, 2011

Sections: /

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.