Posts Tagged With: parks

157 – Backpacking the Enchantments – Snow Lakes Trail to Nada Lake

Right up until the moment that we put on our backpacks in the parking lot by the trailhead, we felt fortunate to be able to go on this particular backpacking trip, yet not quite sure that we could do it.  First off, the Enchantments area of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is a very unique and fragile environment. To protect it, the U.S. Forest Service limits the number of backpackers allowed into the area at any given time by holding an annual lottery for permits. In order to obtain our permit, we submitted our application last February indicating the dates we desired, and did not find out until March if our permit was accepted. Also, at just over 4,000′ elevation gain over the six miles from the trailhead to where our permit allowed us to camp our first night out, this was the steepest and longest backpacking trip we had ever done. Our backpacks were heavier than usual as it had snowed the night before and weather forecasts predicted the temperature to drop to 27 degrees our first night out. We carried extra layers of warm clothes and more food than we usually packed for a week in the backcountry. We left the parking lot prepared for the snow that had already fallen and the low temperatures, planning on a tough day of hiking. Because the trailhead is about a four-hour drive from our home, the night before we headed to son Brian’s home as he lives just under an hour’s drive from the trail so we could begin our hike as early as possible. Here Maybee, Brian’s trusty dog, bids us her good-bye as we head out the door.

Kent Doughty saying goodbye to Maybee the Dog

Kent Doughty saying goodbye to Maybee the Dog

Then, it just so happened that the 2013 Government shutdown began the day before the date of our permitted trip, and with all National Parks closed, we didn’t even know for sure if we would be allowed on the trail. It wasn’t like we could simply call the parks office and ask them because, after all, their offices were closed and all unessential employees had been furloughed. We had stopped at the parks office in Leavenworth on our way to Brian’s the night before, and discovered a note taped to their window indicating that if people had printed out their permits, they should leave them on the dashboard of their vehicles and go on their trip. The Government websites had all been taken off-line a few days before, so if you had not printed your permit before the Government shutdown, it sounded like it was just too bad. Fortunately, we had printed our permit the weekend before we left home!

Foggy at the trailhead parking lot

Foggy at the trailhead parking lot

It had snowed the day before at the higher elevations, and because of the Government shutdown, getting accurate weather information and current snow levels and trail conditions was impossible, unless you ran into someone in the parking lot or something that had just come out of the area. We were lucky, and found a guy that had spent the night in his van because some of the campgrounds were also closed due to the Government shutdown when we arrived at the trailhead early that morning. He told us that he had been on a different trail near the area that was at about the same elevation and that in some places he had found himself plowing through shoulder high snow. He had also heard that Aasgard Pass was closed due to there being three-foot drifts of snow. Aasgard Pass is another, even steeper but shorter, way of entering the Enchantments – but seriously, if you know me at all, you would pretty much figure that any pass with a name that sounds even remotely like “Aasgard” (regardless of how it might be spelled!) is a route that I would avoid, and we had planned our route along the Snow Lakes Trail and planned to camp at Nada Lake the first night. We headed out from the trailhead expecting to run into snow at higher elevations near Nada Lake, and set off ready for a long, steep day of hiking.

With Kent Doughty at the trailhead

With Kent Doughty at the trailhead

First off, we crossed Icicle Creek.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose crossing Icicle Creek

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose crossing Icicle Creek

Then the trail started to climb. One switchback after another, up, up, up we hiked. By then, the fog had cleared and it was a beautiful blue-sky kind of day.

It's a steep trail with lots of switchbacks

It’s a steep trail with lots of switchbacks

We had lots of talus slopes to cross. Long, steep talus slopes, so were forever glad that they were not covered with ice and snow.

There were plenty of talus slope trails

There were plenty of talus slope trails

Four thousand feet of elevation gain over six miles of trail makes for a long hike – especially considering that for this trip, my pack weighed in at somewhere over forty pounds. Whew, I needed a little break here before continuing on.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Taking a break on the climb up

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Taking a break on the climb up

The views were beautiful along the trail. Great views always seem to make it a little easier for me – especially on long, steep trails. I think this is a view of the famous Aasgard Pass. Just look at all that fresh snow! I couldn’t imagine my climbing that one with this pack!

View from the trail

View from the trail

After awhile, we had gained enough elevation that we started hitting snow and ice on those talus slopes. Fortunately, I had brought my trekking pole and had ice trekkers handy in my pack if the going got slippery.

Snow and ice on the talus trail

Snow and ice on the talus trail

Yep, before long, the trail was completely covered with snow, and it was cold. Time to pull out the neck gator, hat and warm gloves.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow at higher elevations along the trail

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Snow at higher elevations along the trail

Finally! We reached Nada Lake and found a spot that was relatively snow free in which to set up camp.

Setting up camp at Nada Lake

Setting up camp at Nada Lake

Not a bad view of Nada Lake from camp as we sipped hot chocolate and ate a vegetable soup for dinner.

Nada Lake from Camp

Nada Lake from Camp

For more information on obtaining a permit to hike into the Enchantments and the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, go here –   http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/okawen/passes-permits/recreation/?cid=fsbdev3_053607 . Stay tuned, we were here for a week, and had some great day hikes – and more!

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Categories: Chelan County, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

153 – Backpacking Goat Rocks Wilderness – Rain, Hail, Floods – The Packwood Dryout

Checking the weather forecast as we gathered our camping gear and filled our backpacks before leaving home, we knew rain was inevitable. We embraced the first snow of the season last year when we backpacked the Heather-Maple Pass Loop – Hike #76 – Heather Pass – Setting Up Camp. We did not let a day of steady rain dampen our spirits earlier this year as we backpacked along the Chelan Lakeshore Trail on our way to Stehekin – Hike #44 – Moore Point to Flick Creek. We’ve hiked and camped in adverse conditions before . . . many times – check it out!

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We have good rain gear. Kent’s a cyclist and bikes over twenty miles every morning to work – rain or shine. We live in the Pacific Northwest. We are accustomed to fast changing weather conditions. We are rarely scared off by bad weather. Of course we decided not to cancel this trip just because a storm was on its way. But then it started to rain. It rained hard. Followed by near constant thunder. Ricoching pellets of hail the size of moth balls pounded us from every direction. Not even under our rainfly were we safe from those stinging pellets of hail – they bounced everywhere.

Moth ball sized hail

Moth ball sized hail

Eventually the hail stopped, but the rain continued. The area where we had set up our tent soon became a river of rain. Kent picked up a log and dug trenches around our tent in hopes of keeping the water from flowing under the tent so the floor (and sleeping bags!) would stay dry.

Trenching the flooding camp

Trenching the flooding camp

As the evening progressed, our camp continued to flood. We debated about packing up the bare essentials (sleeping bags, food for breakfast & morning coffee, and our emergency medical kit), donning our headlamps and hiking down to the trailhead to sleep in the car. Discovering that what had been a trail was now a rapidly running stream and what had been a mere creek was now a raging flash flood, we scouted around Snowgrass Flats to survey the conditions. It became very apparent that it would not be safe to hike out that night. Our only option that night was to wait the storm out, and then see what conditions we would be faced with in the morning.

Flooding . . .

Flooding . . .

We had spotted one lone tent set up in the middle of a field on the other side of Snowgrass Flats when we had originally hiked in, and, hoping their camp was fairing better than ours, we sloshed over and introduced ourselves. Turned out, our neighboring camper was nature, wilderness, landscape photographer Dick Balnicky, and his loveable golden retriever. His tent sat in the middle of a meadow, and It seemed, he was not fairing any better than us. He had hiked out to resupply in the nearby town of Packwood just the day before, and told us that this storm was expected to dump at least four to six inches of precipitation. Since hiking out that evening was no longer an option, we discussed moving our tent to a more protected location. Dick made the slog with us through the storm to our camp, and helped Kent pick our tent up. Together they moved it from where it sat with a stream of water running under it to a nearby location on dryer ground between a couple of small trees.

Moved Tent Under Trees

Moved Tent Under Trees

Though relatively dry underneath, all night long, the tent rattled from the thunder and was pounded by heavy rains. Surprisingly though, it was only a little damp around the edges by morning, and as the day progressed to noon, we continued to wait out the storm.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Wet at camp

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Wet at camp

After lunch, we decided to take another walk around the area to survey the damage from the storm, and everything was flooded, flooding, wet, soaked, soggy, saturated, very wet – and the rain continued.

Flooding

Flooding

Some of the logs in that makeshift bridge that we had used to cross the stream coming into Snowgrass Flats had washed away. The water level had risen so high in that creek and it was flowing so fast, we knew it would not be safe to wade across.

Log bridge washed out

Log bridge washed out

We recalled having spied a fallen tree further up stream when we hiked in. It looked to be a bigger log than those that made up the make-shift bridge that we had crossed coming in. Protected by larger brush, we hoped it was still in place as we worked our way in that direction to check it out. Although the water level had risen and was now much closer to that tree, it appeared stable. And just like that, we declared it to be our new bridge!

The new stream crosing

The new stream crosing

We decided to pack up our soggy camp, hike back down to the trailhead and head to Packwood to wait the storm out. As it turned out, our neighboring camper, the photographer, had made that same decision – as had a few others. These elk hunters caught up with us along the trail on their way out. They had been hunting on the other side of Cispus Pass when they came to a huge washout along the trail. Adding many miles to their route, their only option was to hike out in the same direction as us. Having hiked to Cispus Pass (see Hike #57 – Pacific Crest Trail – Cispus Basin to Cispus Pass) the day before the rain had started, I couldn’t imagine what it must have been like for them to get their pack horses around the narrow trail through Cispus Basin – especially along the stretch where a waterfall flowed over the trail. They said the water was shooting over them so profusely that it was all they could do to lead each horse – one at a time – to the other side. It was a long, narrow stretch of trail, cut along a steep slope, one wrong step would have been all it would haven taken, and down they would have fallen – down, down, down. With many more miles to go, they’d had quite a day already by the time they reached us.

Elk Hunters with pack horses retreating

Elk Hunters with pack horses retreating

It was a wet few hours of hiking for us, no doubt about that.

A wet day of hiking

A wet day of hiking

Remember this bridge? It appeared such a gentle little stream when we hiked in two days before. In the storm, the water had risen to such a level that the vegetation along its shore was pounded and ragged. As we hiked out, we discovered many other areas where the trail had been in very good repair as we hiked in, but now were completely washed out. Often we found ourselves wading through water much deeper that our boots were high, and there was nothing we could do to keep our feet dry. That’s Balnicky’s dog in this photo by that fast flowing creek, wet as all get out. The dog didn’t mind the rain at all, and often ran ahead of its master to give us encouragement as we continued through the pouring rain.

The photographer's dog loves us

The photographer’s dog loves us

By the time we reached the trailhead, we had learned from other hikers along our soggy way that the gravel logging road we had driven in on had also been washed out by the storm. We ended up having to take a 35 (plus) mile detour in order to get to the town of Packwood. Through the constant drizzle, that extra hour or so of driving time seemed to last forever. We finally reached Packwood, changed into dry clothing and set up camp in a hotel. Dick invited us to join him for dinner at his favorite local restaurant later that evening. His photography is amazing – and inspiring to an amateur like myself (go here – Dick Balnicky, Photo.net Photos –  to see a sampling of his images). He is a nice man and I like that we made a new friend during the storm. He checked in with us as we were having breakfast the next morning. The rains had finally let up and our gear was about dry, and we told him that we would be hiking back into the Goat Rocks Wilderness later that morning. He was heading on to Yakima. I hope our paths cross again some day.

Drying out in Packwood

Drying out in Packwood

I found Packwood to be a charmingly vibrant little town. If you ever find yourself in the vacinity of Packwood, (even if you don’t need a place to dry out!), I highly recommend stopping in. For information on the town, go here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Packwood,_Washington.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

152 – Pacific Crest Trail – Cispus Basin to Cispus Pass

I feel a sense of admiration for thru hikers each time we intersect with and/or follow a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) when we are out hiking. They travel the entire length of the PCT, all the way from the California-Mexico border, head north through the states of California and Oregon, and on through Washington until they reach the Canadian border. The PCT is well over 2,600 miles in length and takes about five months for the hikers to complete. Plus, I am sure, months of planning before they even get started. It must feel like such a huge accomplishment when they finish. At times I find myself even dreaming of a day when we might make that same journey. While thru hiking the PCT has not yet become a real goal, I do thoroughly enjoy each and every time our hikes take us along any intersecting snippets of the PCT.

Pacific Crest Trail . . .

Pacific Crest Trail . . .

Our backpacking trip into the Goat Rocks Wilderness in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest (go here – https://60before60.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/56-backpacking-goat-rocks-wilderness-snowgrass-flats/ – to read more about that backpacking trip) turned out to be one of those wonderful opportunities for us to follow a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Having set up camp at Snowgrass Flats the day before, we followed a short trail that connected us with the PCT, and we had a beautiful hike around the Cispus Basin and on up to Cispus Pass.

PCT . . . heading to Cispus Basin

PCT . . . heading to Cispus Basin

Here I am, along the PCT trail as it enters the Cispus Basin.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose along PCT through Cispus Basin

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose along PCT through Cispus Basin

And here I am taking a break on a boulder at the headwaters of the Cispus River.

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose at headwaters of Cispus River in Cispus Basin

(pic by Kenton Doughty) Rose at headwaters of Cispus River in Cispus Basin

We stopped for a picnic lunch in a meadow filled with wildflowers at the headwaters of the Cispus River, then continued our trek around the Cispus Basin and on up to Cispus Pass.

Cispus Pass

Cispus Pass

At 6,473′ elevation, we had to climb a fair number of switchbacks in order to reach the pass. But once there, oh what a view! You can see the PCT from the pass as it continues on to Nanni Ridge.

PCT Cispus Pass to Nanni Ridge

PCT Cispus Pass to Nanni Ridge

Once we reached the pass, we turned around and followed the trail back around the Cispus Basin, a lovely display of clouds were rolling throughout the valley below. Was this the beginning of the predicted storm? Yes! With nearly twenty-four hours of heavy precipitation, including hours of moth-ball sized hail and flash flooding, stay tuned – expect to read more about that later!

PCT Cispus Pass to Cispus Basin

PCT Cispus Pass to Cispus Basin

We saw mountain goats on the other side of the Cispus basin as we worked our way back to camp.

A Goat . . . in Goat Rocks Wilderness

A Goat . . . in Goat Rocks Wilderness

For information on the Pacifit Crest Trail, go here – http://www.pcta.org/. Information about the hike through Cispus Basin and on to Cispus Pass can be found here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cispus-basin-cispus-pass. Happy trails to you!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

151 – Backpacking Goat Rocks Wilderness – Snowgrass Flats

It seemed that we had been looking forward to our Goat Rocks Wilderness trip all summer long, and finally (finally!) our September vacation time was upon us. Limited only to what we could carry in our backpacks, packing for a week long trip deep into the wilderness takes a little more planning than for a one or two night trip. Weighing in at 70 and 35 pounds a piece, it’s pretty obvious here that the bigger one is Kent’s. He carries all the gear – the tent, tarps, ropes, stove, fuel, food (lots of food for a week long trip I might add!) cook pans and so much more. Me, well, there is just no way that I could carry a pack with all that in it, but I do manage to carry all my own personal gear – like two to three liters of water in my hydration unit and my clothes, sleeping bag, air mattress, camera gear and such.

Loaded and Ready to Roll

Loaded and Ready to Roll

The drive from home to the Snowgrass Flats trailhead in the Goat Rocks Wilderness took about 4-1/2 hours, and we ate lunch at the car before booting up. Having recently upgraded the old Volvo wagon for this higher clearance Subaru Forester, it did seem easier to make the drive up the gravel logging road in order to reach our trail.

Arriving at Trail

Arriving at Trail

Here we are at the Snowgrass Trailhead, well fed, booted up, packs on – and ready to head into the wilderness.

Snowgrass Flats Trailhead

Snowgrass Flats Trailhead

All along our hike from the trailhead to Snowgrass Flats, the trail was in very good repair. A close look at this photo shows how the trail over this stream has been previously washed out and built back up again. As it turned out, unfortunately, two days later, flash floods wiped out all that solid-looking construction and we found ourselves wading through a very fast flowing stream with water well over the tops of our boots in order to make the hike out. Stay tuned, you can read more about that in a future post!

Stream Crossing

Stream Crossing

Even with the clouds of a coming storm sometimes looming above us as we hiked, we had a wonderful view of Mount Adams from the trail.

Mount Adams . . . from the trail

Mount Adams . . . from the trail

Here’s Kent, making the final stream crossing into Snowgrass Flats. Since the logs of this make-shift bridge were wobbly, he first took his pack over, came back for mine, and then gave me a hand as I crossed. This bridge was wiped out too in the flash flood a couple of days after we made this crossing, but more about that later!

Stream crossing to Snowgrass Flats

Stream crossing to Snowgrass Flats

After a few hours on the trail with our heavy backpacks, it always feels good to be setting up camp.

Setting up Camp

Setting up Camp

Go here – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goat_Rocks_Wilderness – for more information about the Goat Rocks Wilderness.

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140 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – On to Stehekin

This was the final day of our Lake Chelan backpacking trip, the day we finally reached the remote town of Stehekin. We were scheduled to catch the ferry back to the original starting point of this journey. To read more about this entire backpacking trip, see –Hike #44 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – Moore Point to Flick Creek , Hike #43 – Chelan Lakeshore Trail – Day Hike South from Moore Point , and Hike #42 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – Chelan to Moore Point, Old Orchard Camp. Having spent the majority of the day before hiking in the rain and unsure of what the day’s weather would deliver, even though it was not raining as we packed up and headed out, we started out in our rain gear – just in case. It’s much easier to shed layers once on the trail than it is to get caught in a down pour and have to stop to dig out the rain gear once the clouds seem to burst. If you have never hiked in the rain, you might be surprised how wet you can get in just a few minutes!

On to Stehekin . . .

On to Stehekin . . .

Vegetation along the trail was still wet from all the rain the day before, and the streams were running high. Stream crossings for the day turned out to be quite easy and with proper bridges though. This make-shift bridge of small logs that we encountered not long after we started out was not even much of a challenge.

Stream crossing . . .

Stream crossing . . .

The trail, often took us high above the shore of Lake Chelan and then dipped down right to the waters edge as we continued on to Stehekin. There really barely a couple feet in elevation difference between the beginning and ending of this hike, but there were certainly many, many ups and downs along the way.

Lake Chelan from the trail to Stehekin

Lake Chelan from the trail to Stehekin

The views were great the entire day.

Along the trail to Stehekin

Along the trail to Stehekin

And then we reached Stehekin!

Arriving at Stehekin . . .

Arriving at Stehekin . . .

Stehekin is quite a remarkable little town. Really just an “unincorporated” community, there are only about 75 full-time residents. There is no road access to Stehekin. The only way in and out of Stehekin is to take a boat, a float plane or hike in – or some combination or those options like we did (boat and hike).

The resort in Stehekin . . .

The resort in Stehekin . . .

Downtown Stehekin, now we’ve been there – done that.

In Stehekin . . .

In Stehekin . . .

We arrived in plenty of time to check out the town, eat our lunch, have tea and coffee and rest and relax before it was time for us to catch the ferry back to the town of Chelan.

R & R at the resort in Stehekin

R & R at the resort in Stehekin

The boat, the Lady of the Lake II, arrived and we dug our tickets out of our packs so we could complete our trip.

At the Stehekin dock

At the Stehekin dock

It was a four and a half boat ride from the Stehekin at the northern most end of Lake Chelan to the town of Chelan at the southern most end of the lake, and oh so beautiful. As we headed south, the clouds (which, by the way, never did rain on us as during our final hike to Stehekin), lifted to expose beautiful snow-capped peaks. By the time we reached Chelan, the sky was clear.

On the ferry from Stehekin to Chelan

On the ferry from Stehekin to Chelan

We tossed our heavy backpacks in the back of the car once we got off the boat at Chelan and made the one-hour drive back to son Brian’s to spend the night, then hit the road in the morning to complete the five and a half hour drive back home. What an exceptional adventure this was!

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Categories: Chelan County, Douglas County, Hiking, Nature, Okanogan County, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

139 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – Moore Point to Flick Creek

The best description for this day of hiking is, quite simply, WET. It rained all day. In spite of good rain gear – rain pants, gortex coats, rain hats, rain covers for our backpacks, extra waterproofing added to our boots, it rained almost all day, and we got soaked. Our tent got wet. Our sleeping bags got wet. Our feet got soaked. It was raining. This was the day we needed to hike north from Moore Point (see Hike #42 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – Chelan to Moore Point, Old Orchard Camp) to a camp at Flick Creek in order to continue on our backpacking trip to the remote village of Stehekin at the northern most end of Lake Chelan. Here we are all packed up and tucked into our rain gear, big smiles on our faces as we were determined to make it a grand day of hiking in spite of the rain.

Moore Point to Flick Creek . . . in the rain

Moore Point to Flick Creek . . . in the rain

What started out as a slight mist in the early morning hours, turned into a steady rain as we continued along the trail.

Rain . . . along the trail

(photo by Kent Doughty) Rain . . . along the trail

We hiked on, past more trees charred from the fires of previous years as the view of Lake Chelan teased us through the never ending mist.

Misty views along the soggy trail

Misty views along the soggy trail

It was soggy. The foliage was heavy, weighted down by the rain and drooped over the trail, dripping wet on us even as the rain clouds began to lift. I’m pretty much as wet as this dogwood tree.

Soggy . . . along the trail

(photo by Kent Doughty) Soggy . . . along the trail

Finally, the Flick Creek Camp came into view, and we could see that it had a covered shelter. This being the only official camp site at the Flick Creek Camp, as we approached, we hoped that we would be the first backpackers to arrive. If other campers were already hunkered down in that shelter, we would be faced with having to keep on hiking north – all the way to Stehekin – as this was the only campgrounds between Moore Point and Stehekin. It looked even more inviting as we got closer. We were hopeful. We were wet!

Shelter . . . at Flick Creek Camp

Shelter . . . at Flick Creek Camp

Yes! No one was there! We could get out of the rain, hang our wet stuff up and hope that it would be dry enough to get a good nights sleep before hiking on to Stehekin.

Flick Creek Camp shelter . . .

Flick Creek Camp shelter . . .

By the time we had changed into dry clothing and hung all our wet gear up on the odd assortment of nails in the shelter, the clouds started to lift again. And, just like that, the rain stopped.

View north . . . to Stehekin

View north . . . to Stehekin

Kent always brings plenty of rope along on our backpacking trips, and good thing, because in no time we had a line stretched between two trees and had hung out our wet sleeping bags and other gear. We had a couple of hours remaining before dark, and with the gentle breeze that was blowing, by the end of the day, our gear was dry.

Blowing in the Breeze . . . at Flick Creek Camp

Blowing in the Breeze . . . at Flick Creek Camp

Just look at some of the beautiful mountain views we enjoyed from our camp once the sky cleared. Absolutely stunning!

Mountain views . . . after the rain cleared

Mountain views . . . after the rain cleared

Sitting at the end of the dock at the Flick Creek Camp, what a wonderful way to end the day!

Evening at Flick Creek Camp

Evening at Flick Creek Camp

Near dark, a family of backpackers came hiking in. Three teenage girls, a boy not much older and their mom, hungry, soaked and loaded down with their packs. They asked if we could please share our space. While the Flick Creek was really only for “one”, how could we possibly have sent them on down the trail? There was plenty of room for them! Since we had our tent set up under the shelter and it had stopped raining, we helped them identify a couple of areas that were fairly level where they could put up their tents. In no time, they were set up and cooking their dinner. They, too, were on their way to Stehekin. What a wonderful backpacking trip this was!

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Categories: Chelan County, Douglas County, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

138 – Chelan Lakeshore Trail – Day Hike South from Moore Point

On a backpacking trip to the remote village of Stehekin at the far north end of Lake Chelan, once we were set up at the Old Orchard Camp, we wanted to explore the area a bit more before packing up and heading on. Up until a few years ago, one could hike the entire distance from the town of Chelan to Stehekin, but floods had wiped out portions of the trail and a major bridge between Chelan and Moore Point, making it impossible to hike now. Hikers currently must rely on the ferry to drop them off somewhere north of the washed out area, and that was what we had done (see Hike #42 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – Chelan to Moore Point, Old Orchard Camp). We decided to hike along the Lakeshore Trail south toward the washed out area through a forest that had also been ravaged by wild fires a few years before (oh the power of Nature!). We had peek-a-boo views of the beautiful lake where we had just traveled by ferry as we looked through the tall, charred stumps.

Charred forest

Charred forest

The underbrush is growing back thick and lush since the fires, so there was an abundance of beautiful wild flowers in bloom.

Wildflowers along the trail

Wildflowers along the trail

After several miles of hiking along this trail, we were met by several groups of AmeriCorps workers, no doubt hiking back to their base camp at Moore Point. After a long, hot day of pulling noxious weeds from along the trail and property borders, you could tell they were glad to be heading back to camp. They looked tired. We hiked for several miles before turning around and hiking the distance back to camp ourselves.

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Categories: Chelan County, Douglas County, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

137 – Backpacking Lake Chelan – Chelan to Moore Point, Old Orchard Camp

We had been wanting to visit the little town of Stehekin (population less than 75!) for a long time, so even the planning of this trip was fun. Stehekin is located on the northwest end of one of the deepest fjords in North America, Lake Chelan, and is quite remote. There are only a couple of ways to get to Stehekin. One, a four and a half hour ferry ride on the Lady of the Lake from the town of Chelan, and the other – a very long hike. We opted for a combination of the two, but first, because the drive from our home to the town of Chelan was over five hours, we first drove to son Brian’s in Rock Island (about a four hour drive from home), spent the night and then continued on to Chelan to catch the ferry the next morning.

Son cooking up burgers

Son Brian grilling us some dinner

Here I am, aboard the Lady of the Lake II.

(pic by Kent Doughty) me - on the Lady of the Lake

(pic by Kent Doughty) me – on the Lady of the Lake

The Lady of the Lake is a foot-passenger only ferry, not to be confused with the type of ferries that might sail through the San Juan Islands or on up to Alaska. This is a much smaller boat, and it makes stops at several beaches along the way between Chelan and Stehekin. It gets as close to the rocky beach as it safely can, and passengers that want off wait as a crewmember lowers a walkway.

Our Stop - Moore Point

Our Stop – Moore Point

Moore Point was our stop, and it felt rather like walking the plank as we got off. We were the only passengers to get off at that stop, and once safely ashore, we watched as the crewmember pulled up the ramp and the boat backed away to continue on to Stehekin.

Waving good-bye to Lady of the Lake

Waving good-bye to Lady of the Lake

Once at Moore Point, we quickly discovered that a group of AmeriCorp workers had pretty much taken over the camp there, so we hit the trail in search of a place to set up our camp.

AmeriCorps work camp at Moore Point

AmeriCorps work camp at Moore Point

We hiked on to the Old Orchard Camp.

Hiking on to Old Orchard Camp

Hiking on to Old Orchard Camp

At the remains of an old homestead by the Old Orchard Camp, several lilac bushes remained, and there were many swallow tail butterflies flitting about the flowers.

Swallow tail butterfly on lilacs

Swallow tail butterfly on lilacs

Later on the beach, there were swarms of them.

Swarms of swallow tail butterflys on the beach

Swarms of “puddling” swallow tail butterflies on the beach

There were lots of bugs, so by dinner time, our bug nets came out.

Camp cook - with bug net

Camp cook – with bug net

Because we were going to be on the trail for several days, we had dehydrated our own shrimp and vegetables to lighten the load in our backpacks. Cooked up with some brown rice, garlic and olive oil, turned out, this was one of the best backpacking dinners we’ve ever had.

Backpacker dinner - shrimp and pasta

Backpacker dinner – shrimp and pasta

More photos of our adventure on the Lady of the Lake from Chelan to Moore Point, Old Orchard Camp.

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Categories: Chelan County, Douglas County, Hiking, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

136 – Thunder Creek Trail

We accessed to the trailhead for Thunder Creek Trail from the parking lot of the Colonial Creek Campground along Highway 20 about 24 miles east of the town of Marblemount. Unable to drive all the way into the campground and to the trailhead until the Memorial Day weekend, we parked in a lot just outside of the main camping area and walked maybe a half mile or so through the campgrounds until we reached the trail.

At the Thunder Creek Trailhead

At the Thunder Creek Trailhead

Once on the trail, the sound of Thunder Creek lived up to its name as we passed through the wild and scenic forest.

In an old-growth tree

In an old-growth tree

There were lots of different wildflowers to enjoy along the way.

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

More Wildflowers

It’s an easy, well maintained trail with sturdy bridges over all stream crossings with barely more than 650 foot elevation gain over the entire twelve miles roundtrip hike. For more information on this trail and current trip reports, visit the Washington Trails Association website at http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/thunder-creek-1?b_start:int=0.

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County, Whatcom County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

135 – Guemes Mountain Trail

What an awesome hike this was! What hike starts with a ferry ride and takes you all the way to the highest point on one of the San Juan Islands? The Guemes Mountain Trail! Go here – http://www.skagitcounty.net/common/asp/?d=publicworksferry&c=general&p=ferry.htm – for information on the Guemes Island Ferry. Here, Dena and I enjoy the sunshine on the deck of the ferry as we travel from the town of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island to Guemes Island.

Dena and I . . . on the Guemes Island ferry

Dena and I . . . on the Guemes Island ferry

It’s only a short drive from the ferry landing once on Guemes Island to the Guemes Mountain Trail. If you prefer, park your car in downtown Anacortes and go as a walk-on passenger on the ferry. Bring your bicycle and ride to the trailhead. Or, if you don’t have a bike, the Anderson’s General Store might have a bicycle available for you to borrow. Go here – http://www.guemesislandstore.com/ – for information about the store and their contact information.

Guemes Mountain trailhead

Guemes Mountain trailhead

Four vehicle parking spaces are available at the trailhead, and a bike rack that will probably accommodate six or more bikes on a busy day. Early Spring and not a busy time of year for the island, we had the entire trail to ourselves; but I suspect it might be quite a popular hiking destination during the summer vacation season.

Along the trail

Along the trail

You should go now! Why? Because of the wildflowers. We saw fawn lily, chocolate lily, camas, pear, apple and wild plum trees in bloom, red flowering currant, Oregon grape, and more. All absolutely beautiful in the afternoon sunshine!

Wildflowers along the trail

Wildflowers along the trail

Do you like mountain views? This trail has them too – Mount Baker, Twin Sisters, Mount Rainier, Canadian Cascades and the Olympics, all visible from the summit. And island views. From the summit you can see Lummi, Samish, Cypress, Lopez, Orcas, Fidalgo, Portage, Vendovi, Sinclair.

Samish Island, Oyster Dome, Mount Baker . . . from Guemes Mountain

Samish Island, Oyster Dome, Mount Baker . . . from Guemes Mountain

The trail gains approximately 500′ in elevation as it climbs through a lovely forest to the top of Guemes Mountain. It is in very good condition and easy to travel so is a great hike for the entire family – regardless of their age or hiking experience.

Along the trail

Along the trail

For more information on the Guemes Mountain Trail, visit the Washington Trails Association website, here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/guemes-mountain. Go, and enjoy!

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Categories: Hiking, Nature, Photography, Skagit County | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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