Friday, April 14, 2023

Hike: Bunker Hill + Whistle Punk Loop, Carson, WA


Top of Bunker Hill

Getting There

In Washington, take Hwy 14 to the Wind River Hwy through Carson. Take the highway north for 10.7 miles to Stabler. Take Hemlock Road west and go about 1.2 miles to the Wind River Work Center. The Google Maps directions are wrong and try to route you through private property! Go a little further past the Work Center to NF-417. Keep a lookout for the a right turn for Old Bunker Hill Road. It's just a little more to the Trailhead parking lot.

The Hike

AllTrails map

Length: 5.62 mi (Bunker Hill: 3.91; Whistle Punk: 1.71)
Elev. gain: 1,322 ft (BH: 1266; WP: 56)
Moving time: 2:11:39
Total time: 2:31:49
Avg pace: 23:26
Calories: 1,325 

Bunker Hill

Note: The Bunker Hill trail crosses a large field before you get to the tree line. The trailhead signage marks the Whistle Punk Loop trail.

The first part of the trail is a bit swampy but there are some logs to help you get through. Eventually, you reach a wider trail which is most of the route.

It's a beautiful hike with very little undergrowth. It climbs at a moderate rate via switchbacks. While it's airy in the trees you can't really see the surrounding hills in the valley. It's not until you reach the ridge that you can see daylight and hints at views.

The trail makes the final climb to the top on the backside of the actual ridge. The photos below start from the top. 

"A fire lookout once perched on the 2,383-foot-elevation summit, offering views of the Wind River Valley and the former Wind River Nursery. Bunker Hill is an igneous volcanic plug that was pushed up through layers of lava flows and volcanic debris 25 to 20 million years ago. The igneous plug is less resistant to erosion than the surrounding rock. Several places along the trail furnish superb views of the Wind River Valley, and the Ranger District/Nursery complex."

Footings from old fire lookout before the canopy grew up

A tribute to an old friend

View looking southeast of the Wind River Valley

Ridge trail

Another view of the Wind River Valley

Glimpse at the PCT

Swampy crossing

Pano of approach to trail (Bunker Hill is on the left)

Whistle Punk Loop

After my Bunker Hill hike, I took a spin around the Whistle Punk Loop. Just a few relics of the lumber industry is left, i.e. several rusted spark arresters.

"This trail is a barrier-free interpretive trail that tells the story of forest management from a historical perspective. Signs and a brochure guide visitors along the trail, which runs along an old railroad grade (dating back to 1913) and past features associated with railroad logging by the Wind River Logging Company."

"In logging's heyday, whistle punks were men tasked with operating the signal that let other loggers know a log had been hooked up and was ready to be moved. Using interpretive signage, this trail illustrates what was like to be on a logging show, from the crew, to the cook, to camp. There are even some relics from the past, including a "sled", which is now quite hard to see, as well as some other metal artifacts."

Wind River Research Natural Area

"This old-growth Douglas fir and hemlock forest is
designated for scientific and educational use. Research
is conducted on all aspects of this import forest type,
including plants, animals, soil and climate; this research
is used to improve our understanding and management of
similar forests.

If you enter this area, please leave plants, animals and
research installations undisturbed because continuing
ecological studies depend on unaltered natural conditions."

The Smoke Stack's Connected to the Spark Arrester

"The smoke from the fire makes hot sparks.
The hot sparks rise up the smokestack.
The smokestack is connected to the spark arrester.
The spark arrester is layered with wire mesh.
And the wire mesh stops the sparks."

As the Donkey Puncher pulls on the controls, smoke pours out of
the stack. He thinks about how steam generates power needed
for moving the cables that move logs. He hums.
"Dem Bones, dem bones, dem dry bones..."

"That steam, that steam, that powerful steam,
so hear the sound of the steam donkey..."

The water tank pipes to the boiler.
The wood tender throws in the wood chunks.
The fire box heats up the water.
And the steam goes into the steam box.

The steam box is connected to the pistons.
The pistons push the rods that turn the gears.
The gears are connected to the cabin drum.
And the donkey puncher feeds out the cable.

The cable goes out to the big woods.
The choker setter connects the cable to a big log.
The log is yarded to the landing.
And the steam donkey powers the cables.

That steam, that steam, that powerful steam,
so hear the sounds of the steam engine.

A continual menace to logging operations -- FIRE!
Despite protection from the spark arrester, firey sparks
flew from cables rubbing cables, cables rubbing logs, and
from screeching brakes on railroad cars."

"... and cables swing the 6,000-pound log overhead. As it
swings over the railroad car, he signals to the Donkey Engineer
to drop it quick. He scurries to remove the tongs, ignoring the
Head Loader's mouth over on the log pile.

He dreams of becoming a High Climber, He knows he has
enough nerve to climb and rig 200-foot spars with 2,000-pound
blocks. He'd be his own boss and earn $5 more a day - a big
jump from the $2-day wage he received when starting out as
as Whistle Punk."

A Portable Workshop of Ingenuity
"Ha! You call dis ah verkshop?" mocks the Swede. "It's just a railroad
car with sides and a roof. Da crew just rolled it off da railroad on
'dare way to pick up another trainful of logs. Ha! A verkshop! Ha!"

"by Tunder, Svede!" shouts back the Irishman. "If we didn't have
dis workshop, the logging show wouldn't operate. If it weren't for
our smarts, the railroad wouldn't run, the blocks wouldn't move smoothly,
and we wouldn't have handles on our saws."

"Oh yah, Red. Yah. So where's da Marlin spike to splice da cable?
Da boss vants me to work on dis one. Fast! It's holdin' up one side
of da show! Da main line cable broke, and dat boss!... Dat boss, he
don't want 'dose 50 men hangin' round in da woods."