Friday, August 28, 2020

Hike: Silver Star Mountain via Grouse Vista Trail, Yacolt, WA

Getting There

I took L-1200 out of Washougal to get there. It's 7 miles up a gravel road from the end of the pavement on Skamania Mines Road and it's 18 miles from Washougal. You can also reach the trailhead from the north via Yacolt.

The Hike

Holy molé! Difficult hike but spectacular views. Mts: Rainier, St Helens, Adams, Hood, Jefferson

Length: 6.3 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,096 feet
Grade: 12.6%
Type: Out & Back
Duration: 4.5 hours 

Narrow path in the trees, shade

Out in the sun, a bit rougher trail

L to R: Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, Mt Adams

L to R: Mt Hood, a hiker on the ridge, a faint Mt Jefferson in the right corner

Looking towards the west, vague outline of the Columbia River

Haggard but still smiling

Trail Review

It deserves the Difficult rating. :) I’d estimate that 75% is on a decent incline and rough going (rocky path). You can pick some good lines through some of the wider sections. The other 25% is more or less flat or slightly declining. There’s a well marked right turn near the summit. You go passed a campsite and up another rocky section to the top. The payoff is delayed until the last turn. You can see Rainier, St Helens, Adams, Hood, Jefferson, and even the Columbia. Spectacular views! Unfortunately the views from the trail include clear cuts, big swaths of missing forest and the access roads."

My trail review on AllTrails:

Saturday, August 8, 2020

Hike: Larch Mountain Crater Loop Trail, Corbett, OR

Distance: 6.3 miles
Type: Loop

Elevation Gain: 1310 feet

High Point: 4055 feet

Duration: 2 hrs


The Hike

Nice little hike this morning at Larch Mountain. It's actually 3 different trails.

If you start at the parking lot and go clockwise, you'll start on the Larch Mountain Trail #441. Then, you'll take a right on the Multnomah Creek Trail #444. About a mile from end of the loop, you'll reach the intersection with the Oneonta Trail #424. You'll have to hike on the road about a 1/2 mile back to the parking lot.


The Map


Monday, August 3, 2020

Hike: Diablo Lake Trail, Marblemount, WA

Distance: 7.6 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft.
Highest Point: 1950 ft.
Duration: ~4 hr

Getting There

Located in the North Cascades -- North Cascades Highway - Hwy 20

I left Chelan Lake, WA about 8am and traveled westbound on Hwy 20 along the North Cascades Scenic Byway.

After experiencing Washington Pass and the awesome views of the surrounding peaks like Liberty Bell Mountain and the lime green glacial waters of Ross and Diablo Lakes.

While at the lookout I felt like I was soon to be out of the steep mountain part of the highway and didn't want it to end. I noticed a small road on the north side of Diablo Lake, near the ferry dock for the Ross Lake Resort.

It's a single lane road across the Diablo Lake dam. I drove to the end of the short road and parked near the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center which is currently closed due to the pandemic.

I'd just planned to put my feet in the cool waters and just relax. I saw the Diablo Lake Trailhead across the parking lot but didn't think much; I'd just did that awesome hike to Crater Lake, WA the day before and wasn't sure if my legs and feet were ready for another long hike.

I checked out the map on the sign in the parking lot and assumed the trail was just a short one around the Learning Center. I looked down at my Keens and decided I'd better throw on my hiking boots and properly gear up (backpack with clothes, food, first aid, water & hiking poles).

The Hike

I hopped on the trail and felt glad to have make the choice to hike. After a just 20 mins it was clear the trail wasn't a quickie but was steadily gain altitude. My quads and calves seemed up to the challenge.

After climbing out the the somewhat dense forest the trail reaches the power lines and clearing. There's a side trail going down, down down this ridge to the lake. There were no signs that this was part of the Diablo Trail so I waited while a hiker that had been a few hundred yards ahead of me made his descent.

Another hiker arrived at the clearing and looked as well. I asked if this was part of a loop and she said she didn't know. We concurred that staying in the trees and heading toward Ross Lake. Before heading out she complimented my straw hat and made a remark about the sun & sunscreen. I commented that it was preferable to lathering sunscreen. She said she couldn't avoid that because she was fair skinned. I meant to point out that my shirt offered UV protection because of my tattoos but I think I might have offended her. Not my intention. 

I made sure to walk slowly at first to give this hiker a cushion and maintain the feeling of solitude with nature. The trail reaches some amazing catwalks which feature views of the mountains, Hwy 20, and Diablo Lake below. 


Once you're able to see Ross Dam in the distance through a clearing in the trees, the trail starts to steadily drop down. I immediately started thinking about the return trip. The two recent hikes I'd done on my trip were virtually all trails that went up and up and up. This one appeared to be a bell curve.

The "end" of the trail was a small cul de sac with a decent view of the dam. I didn't take the switchbacks down to the dam. After reviewing the map, the trail continues down to the dam, the up and over to Ross Lake. It was already 3 or 3:30p and I had about an hour hike back.

I passed a family of 6 or 7 who asked "how much further?". I advised that the "viewpoint" was a good turn around spot.

Weird observation as I was on the return route: I encountered a kid by himself and heard a parent scolding him for getting too far ahead (and out of their view). She warned him that a mountain lion was going to attack him and they'd never know what happened to him. WTF? Horrible thing to tell to a kid to squash any interest in the outdoors. Another woman and small child were with them. I couldn't tell for sure but it looked like the other parent was a bit horrified by this woman's claim. Clearly projecting her own (irrational) fears.

The Map


Sunday, August 2, 2020

Hike: Crater Lakes Trail, Carlton, WA

Distance: 8.6 miles
Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 2220 ft.
Highest Point: 6980 ft.
Duration: 4 hr 30 min

Getting There

Location: North Cascades -- Methow/Sawtooth

I opted to bail on the Lade of the Lake boat trip to Stehekin. It was kind of a shit show with boats, bathers, most not wearing masks, etc. So I scouted a hike. I'd originally been searching for trails in the forest above the southwest side of Lake Chelan.

I noticed several routes on the northeast side of the lake. I noticed one had a long approach by forest road and had a destination to a lake with lots of green and white on the map (trees and snow). Three birds, one stone: some gravel forest roads for the Jeep, an awesome hike, and a short preview of the Scenic Byway. (Actually you're on Hwy 153 until Twisp when it intersects with Hwy 20).

I was smiling ear to ear as I left the brown, dry region and climbed into the forest. It was still only about 9am and I passed a couple of vehicles coming down. It was a well-maintained road but I threw it in 4WD anyway; gotta exercise that part of the transmission and drive train and it seemed like the Jeep was a little bit more stable on the loose surface with rocks and potholes.

I was a little surprised to find the parking lot nearly full, including a couple of trucks & horse trailers. I found one parking spot in the shade off the main parking area. I had to back down the road as it was a tight squeeze.


The Hike

I geared up and started on the trail. The first mile was just silt and fine dust, probably from the horses and dry weather. I soon reached the junction and started my ascent. I'd was behind a guy on a mountain bike who stopped suddenly and went back down; apparently having taken a wrong turn at the junction.

I only saw a few hikers on their descent. Again, one group was a family of four, mom and dad and two boys about 9 or 10 y.o. "If they could make the hike, so could it" I thought.

The trail was a bit overgrown in spots and I did my best to whack some of the branches out of the way but it really required a machete.

Towards the top of the route, you get to a series of steep switchback through big boulders. Once you get passed that there are some amazing views of the valley below. It wasn't long before I reached the first lake. I saw the fire ring and stone seat someone had made. I still didn't realize I was at the lake because the water was still and blended with the color of the sky.

I didn't bring any insect repellent but threw on a mosquito net over my head. The flies and other bitey insects would not leave me alone. I found a small trail to the water's edge to take some photos. I tried to find a path around the lake but there were a lot of fallen trees. I did go for a little bit but was getting bitten on my hands and where the net was close to my forehead. I'd planned to have my lunch at the lake but figured it'd be more pleasant at the rocky overlook.

I found a big boulder to kick it at. I took off my top layers to dry. While I was far from the lake, the bitey critters were still infatuated with me. I quickly wolfed my sammich and put on a dry shirt from my bag, the other one hadn't had time to dry.

Just after I had descended the rocky switchbacks I passed a woman and her two young daughters. These encounters were a bit of a reality check. I had my badass Jeep and all the hiking gear, thinking I'm such a rugged adventurer. Meanwhile, these three had done the same hike with a sweatshirt and running shoes. Color me impressed. I also knew they were going to be eaten alive at the lake and warned them. I estimated they had 45 mins left to the first lake.

I didn't see anyone else until near the bottom; a mountain biker who I let go by so I could assume my leisurely, tired pace.

“Crater Creek Trail # 416 is popular for hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bike trail users. The trail stays close to the creek as it climbs up through a series of Ice Age basins to Crater Lake, surrounded by subalpine forest and wet meadows. Last 0.75 mile is mostly level with good views. Horse camp is 0.25 mile from lake. Trail is open to hikers, horses and mountain bikes (closed to motorcycles). Bicyclers, and hikers yeild to horses when meeting on the trail.”



The Map