Day 1 - Sunday, July 18, 2021
Late start, around 11am, drive I-5 N to Hwy 12 E.
Stopped in Morton for some groceries
Arrived at Iron Creek campground around 3pm
Set up tent and rearranged gear, edible stuff
Walked around the camp loop for a while, ended up going to the day camp. I just walked back to the campground on the road (NF-25).
Day 2 - Monday, July 19, 2021
Woke up earlier but finally got out of the tent around 7am. Spent the next hour or so breaking down the tent and packing everything but the coffee making stuff.
When I reached the road I really didn't know what I was going to do. I considered my options around Packwood and Mt Rainier. I reviewed my plans for the following day and the trails around Reflection Lake and the Paradise Lodge. I also thought about doing a run up to High Rock Lookout. In the end, I'd planned my trip so I could be close to the north side of MSH. I wanted to complete the loop I'd started last weekend, and continue scouting the Ape Canyon-Smith Creek-Lava Canyon Loop.
I'm really happy with my choice to stick with the plan. I turned left on NF-25 and headed south. I remember driving this road after a long trek from Concrete. It was my goal the entire trip to avoid the interstate*. (*besides the part between home and Woodland).
As expected there was almost no traffic being that it was Monday morning. Once I turned onto NF-99 to Windy Ridge, I remember seeing a couple taking photos when the first big panoramas came into view from the road. I really want to explore the Mount Margaret Backcountry! Craggy peaks, surreal landscape of blast zone, a slowly returning ecosystem.
The views just got better and better. I remember visiting Windy Ridge last year or maybe it was in 2019, I don't remember. Just incredible to see across Spirit Lake toward Johnston Ridge, Harry's Ridge & Coldwater Peak where I was just hiking 11 days before. I want to see it all, even if it's, by necessity, in stages.
I parked near the trailhead and that couple I saw early pulled up to; it sounded like they were going for a picnic.
I geared up and set out on the Spirit Lake-Iron Creek Road (Truman Trail).
See ____ for the hike details.
I was stoked on a great hike and cheerfully changed out of my hiking boots. I was glad to have started my first full day of this trip with this particular hike. I could continue north to my next stop without reservation.
Since Norway Pass was my second option, I wanted to at least see the trailhead and get a peak at the terrain. I hesitated and passed the turn but went back around and made the turn. Why take the same road back to Randle that I came out there on. (I'd done this road a few years ago so I knew it linked back to the main road.)
This area that NF-26 takes you through is amazing in it's own right. Deep valleys, lush forest, and steep craggy peaks and ridges, outside of the blast zone. This road is the same distance as the main one, 26mi, but there are a lot of potholes and such, so it slow going. No matter, I'm there for the scenery. I would highly recommend this route if you have the time. In fact, I didn't realize where I was on the route but a guy stopped me and asked it it went to Windy Ridge. I said "yeah, more or less, it's definitely the more 'scenic' route to other road."
I emerged from the forest road and to the openness near Randle. I hopped on Hwy 12 and head to Packwood. The Mountain View Lodge just outside of town. I stayed there last summer but for just one night. (I'm recreating part of that trip but taking more time in each. Plus, there are fires and road closures up in the Methow area/North Cascades Scenic Byway.)
Side note: I didn't plan to go into town but I had sudden hankering for pizza. The place I went last time was open for another hour. On the way back into town, a huge herd of Elk or deer were grazing across from the gas station. (The pizza joint was a bust, 30-40 min wait for orders). On the way back, 1/2 the herd had crossed the road, so I carefully passed through.Day 3 - Tuesday, July 20, 2021
???Day 4 - Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Day 5 - Thursday, July 22, 2021
Day 6 - Friday, July 23, 2021