Moon over Mount Hood, April 2002.
Photo by Doug Adair
Pacific Northwest Trip Reports!
Reports of personal experience of hikes and climbs in the backcountry of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and the surrounding area.
Commonwealth Basin is such a beautiful area anytime of the year. I especially like it when it is alive with melting snow and flowing water. It is about a mile up the creek before the turn to the Guye-Snoqulamie Saddle. From Cave Ridge we climbed the South Shoulder, kicking steps. The snow was very soft and was starting to slide. The cornice along the east side of South Shoulder was beautiful, and everyone stayed well away from the edge.
While coming down Cave Ridge the snow was like sugar and a small avalanche came down on Mike Tanner, knocking him over, and causing him to tumble a few times before it stopped. We didnt expect this, and should have paid closer attention.
We were back at the cabin at 4 pm. We had a leisurely 8-hour day. 3,100 elevation gain, and about 7 miles.
Mailbox Peak 4,841 May 04, 2002
The trailhead, 791, is on the Middle Fork Road, off I90 exit 34. It is unmarked, but the first parking area after going through the sub-division, about 3 miles from I90.
Scott, Doerte, and I started up the steep trail about 8:30 am. Once it starts there is no break from the relentless uphill. The trail is related more to a climbers route than a trail. We encountered new snow at about 3,000 but the snowpack didnt start until 3,800. We put on crampons and continued to climb the ridge to the summit. The snow was hard pack with an inch or two of new on top. Two parties turned around in the cold fog and started back down.
There were some nice cornices off the North side of the ridge. We had no views, only a cold breeze and light snow. It was very much winterlike conditions. On the descent we practiced self-arrests. Many people hiked with big packs and plastic boots training for bigger mountains and harder days to come.
At seven miles and 4,050 elevation gain, Mailbox Peak is an excellent training trip. It can be done year-round.
Ingalls Creek, 1000', April 28, 2002
Beginning 12.5 miles North of old Swauk Pass, off of Highway 97, the Ingalls Creek Trailhead, 1,953, is already snowfree. There are a couple of nice walk-in campsites and an outhouse at the very pretty trailhead. Spring comes early on the East side of the Cascade Crest. The first spring flowers were blooming, Avalanche Lilies, appearing as soon as the snow melted. We watched hummingbirds gathering nectar. Huge old-growth Ponderosa Pines were seemingly as high as the ridgetops, widely spaced, and showing scars on their bark of forest fires past.
The trail is in excellent condition for the first three miles and then the occasional blowdown is encountered. Ingalls Creek is running fast and furious, full with the spring snowmelt. Last October, after a day in the clouds on Mount Stuart, it was barely a trickle. The trail ascends slowly, alternating between forest and views of the growing Stuart Range, higher and higher above. There are many fine campsites along the entire length of Ingalls Creek.
We turned around at 4.5 miles when the trail became all snow. Falls Creek is at 6 miles and makes a good dayhike destination. Ingalls Creek is 16 miles of fine wilderness and a real prize for anyone who hikes its entire length. One way trips can be made over Stuart Pass, descending Jack Creek to Icicle Creek, or exiting to the Teanaway via Ingalls Pass or Longs Pass. The Teanaway is the closest access from Seattle and very popular once the trailhead is snowfree.
Many of the Peaks in the Stuart range can be climbed via Ingalls Creek. Only 7.5 miles from the Trailhead is Enchantment Pass which gives access to McClellan Peak, 8,364, Enchantment Peak, 8,520, and Little Annapurna, 8,440. At 9.3 miles Porcupine Creek, 4,100, will lead strong climbers to Colchuck Col and access to Colchuck Peak, 8,705, and Dragontail Peak, 8,840. The next gully, .5 miles farther on, leads climbers to the tough summit of Argonaut, 8,453. Finally, at 12 miles there is access to majestic Mount Stuart, 9,415. Mount Stuart is the crowning peak of the Central Cascades and its summit is much sought after.
Oil City to near Mosquito Creek, Olympic Coast 500 April 6, 2002
Doerte and I left Oil City in the rain and the mud. The trail is in good shape, but like all trails on the Olympic Coast that are not a boardwalk, they get really muddy. We had Gortex boots and gaiters.
It is only a mile to where the Hoh River empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Hoh Delta is wide and shows evidence of past floods. We looked at the campsites and then at low tide went around the Diamond Rock to Jefferson Cove. Diamond Rock is impassable at high tides. Weaving in and out, and over the slippery rocks, we took our time.
Jefferson Cove is a beautiful low tide beach about a mile long. At the North end is the first ladder and the route over the big Hoh Head. Hoh Head can never be rounded even at an extreme low tide. It is 1.5 miles to the low tide beach at the North side of Hoh Head, and 3.5 miles by trail to Mosquito Creek.
The route down to the low tide beach is steep and slick. Downed trees make it even more interesting. We had lunch at the low tide beach as a Bald Eagle soared overhead. The sun camp out and we enjoyed a beautiful day. The low tide beach will go to Mosquito Creek, two miles to the North. It is easy walking on the firm sand.
The only campsites are above in the woods. There were two little flowing creeks for water. We were back at Oil City in 3 hours. The total for the day was 10 miles and 500 elevation gain.
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