Sunday, June 29, 2014

Snow Lake via Middle Fork Snoqualmie River, Rock Creek

Move completed on Saturday, a morning without boxes was needed.

Kevin, Dave and I headed out to the Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River for a little run, taking the Middle Fork trail up to the junction with Rock Creek and then up to Snow Lake. While many people take the shorter approach from Alpental on the south, this route includes a lot of old growth on a nice valley river trail and the awesome Rock Creek basin with the impressive falls.

The Middle Fork trail is in good shape with a few muddy patches, a couple of creek crossings and a work crew using two weed whackers and a machete to clear brush (three or four miles in from the trailhead). Rock Creek has a couple of blowdowns (nothing too onerous), moderate brush through the upper rock slides and patches of snow over the last third of a mile to Snow Lake, which still is completely snowbound.

Early creek crossing
Middle Fork of the Snoqualmie River

Rock Creek trail junction, ~8 miles in
Getting out of the trees toward Snow Lake
Rock Creek Falls
Decently brushy through the middle-upper portions
Looking back down the Rock Creek valley toward the Middle Fork

Still some snowy sections before the lake
Dave, me and Kevin at Snow Lake
Cool colors from the melt
Old growth back on the Middle Fork
Heading back to the car
My GPS cut out for a large chunk, but Kevin's worked just fine: 24.1 miles, 5500'.

Thanks guys!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

On the move

It's been nine and a half years since I've lived in my home country: just under five years each in Mongolia and Canada. Next week marks the end of our time in Canada.

I'm profoundly grateful on many levels for the time I've spent here. Thank you; you know who you are.

Won't be out of the Pacific Northwest though...just a few hours south of here outside of Seattle, where I grew up.

This morning worked out to be a beautiful last shuffle around the North Shore: very few people on the trails, great weather and a few hours to quietly reflect by myself.
From the top of The Cut this morning

Expect more Cascade and Olympic runs on here in the near future!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pasayten Wilderness

Over warm cups of tea, on a cold December day, Sir Hikes and I spread out a table-full of maps and went through a greatest hits of routes in the North Cascades and Olympics. After a failed Pasayten trip with my brother in 2002, I've always wanted to go back, and he had just the trip to suggest: a ~60 mile lollipop up the Chewuch River to the Boundary Trail, east to Horseshoe Basin, then south over Windy Peak and back down to the Chewuch River.

I'd been maniacally monitoring snotel, weather forecasts and trip reports from the Pasayten and North Cascades. We expected some rough conditions (generally the normal in this area) and definitely were not disappointed. We didn't get to complete exactly what we set out to, but we had a great day in the backcountry without seeing a single person.

Thanks to Graham and Paul for coming along! I hope we'll be back there again this summer...

Graham's photo album here!

(trail conditions report at bottom)

Starting off on the Chewuch River trail
Horseshoe Creek ford
Tungsten Creek
Small cougar tracks (also many cougar scat throughout the day)
Patchy snow starting around 6,600'...
...quickly turned into much deeper stuff; above Remmel Lake
Lots of great granite keeping Graham happy on our way to Cathedral Pass
Upper Cathedral Lake and Cathedral Pass
Happy at Cathedral Pass because...
...the east side looks better! Boundary Trail seen contouring on the left
Boundary Trail with Cathedral Pass and Peak to the west
Looking back toward Amphitheater Mountain in the clouds, left, and Cathedral Peak
Lost, near Scheelite Pass
Teapot Dome, Haig Mountain, Horseshoe Basin and Windy Peak
Horseshoe Basin
Back at the Chewuch River; six miles to the car (yeah, I look craziest of the bunch...)
Because of the conditions, and our (mostly my) pace, we had to skip Windy Peak this time and just take the quickest way back to the car. We were out for a few hours longer than expected, but I think we all escaped largely unscathed.

  • Chewuch River: majority of the blowdowns are in the first six miles, with a handful of climb-overs. Mostly clear past Tungsten Creek junction. Consistent snow from Remmel Lake north, up to four feet; we often postholed up to our thighs in the deep areas. 
  • Boundary Trail: significant snow around Cathedral Peak/lakes, and at most shaded areas all the way through Horseshoe Basin. Very few blowdowns and overall in good shape, though hard to follow through snowy areas.
  • Basin Creek: snow at the junction with Windy Peak/Creek trail. We got lost and decided going cross country down Basin Creek to rejoin the trail below the SW ridge of Topaz Mountain was the best option. It actually worked out very well, and we hit the trail with a couple of miles of descending left to rejoin the Chewuch River trail. Given the recent fire, the upper part of the trail over Topaz probably is worse than the actual basin we followed. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Plans for summer 2014 (so far...)

Martin finishing in 2013; I'm playing Where's Waldo

And hopefully many other mountain runs yet to be determined...