Sunday, May 12, 2024

Hikes: Covel Creek Falls & Burley Mountain, Randle, WA

The "Mayor" of Cispus Learning Center

Getting There

From Randle, WA, take WA-131 south toward Lewis Street. At about 1 mile, take the left onto Cispus Road and continue for about 8 miles. Continue NF-23 until the fork and turn right to stay on Cispus Road. There's a sign that says the road to Trout Lake is closed for snow. After crossing over the bridge for Yellowjacket Creek turn right to stay on Cispus Road (and Tower Rock Campgrounds). Don't continue onto NF-28. Follow the signs for Cispus Learning Center.

I'd stopped at Fischer's Market to get some groceries but in true fashion, I didn't get everything I needed. I forgot to get sandwich fixings. It was late in the day and I was hungry, so I popped into the Blue Stone Cafe for a burger and skimpy side of coleslaw. I knew the plan for dinner was to come back to Randle, so I figured I'd stock up then.

Since my last visit to Cispus, I'd wanted to check out Layser Cave so I took the opportunity for a detour. It was further up than I'd expected but I was on a mission. There's a short trail to a viewpoint and then to the cave entrance. Most of the cave was filled in to prevent vandals and ne'er-do-wells.

View of Mt Adams and Dark Divide peaks

"Layser Cave is one of the most significant archaeological sites in western Washington. Animal bones and stone tools found on the floor of the cave and buried in the soil layers enabled experts to piece together a history of more than 7,000 years."

I ended up getting to the Alder bunkhouse at Cispus just as folks were rallying to go to dinner. I made a poor decision to stay and get settled, knowing I didn't have enough supplies. (For lunch on Friday, I made a sandwich with only condiments and spinach.)

The Hikes

Saturday Crew

May 10, 2024

Covel Creek Falls

Distance: 1.73 miles
Elevation Gain: 277 feet
Maximum Elevation: 1,499 feet






In the morning, we were split into small teams to tackle different parts of the Covel Creek trail. Since I'm not certified to run the chainsaw, my duties were safety, cleanup, brushing, and tread work. I was with two other guys that still included me in the OHLEC plan (OHLEC – Objective-Hazzards-Leans-Escape Route-Cut).

We completed all of our objectives in our section of the trail. It was hot, humid, and there were lots of mosquitoes.




May 11, 2024

Burley Mountain

Distance: 3.27 miles
Elevation Gain: 75 feet
Maximum Elevation: 3,908 feet


The Saturday group included four new people that were just working one day. I helped carpool folks to the top of the trail on the road to Burley Mountain Lookout. The teams leapfrogged each other as we cleared obstacles (trees) from the trail. 

It was also meant to be a learning process for "A" sawyers on trickier obstacles: multiple logs, hazards, etc. The biggest challenge was the "jackstraw", a jumbled heap of logs with the difficulty of trying to remove them one at a time without moving any of the others. The "B" and "C" sawyers were assigned to this one.

When this one was cleared, we started our descent back to Cispus. We passed through steep switchbacks and under Curtain Falls. We followed Covel Creek down and there were several more waterfalls.

One of the crew wasn't feeling well. When we reached them, they were dehydrated and a bit woozy. When someone asked me to carry their chainsaw, I didn't hesitate for a second: I was happy to help.

Back at camp, we still had to retrieve our vehicles from Burley Mountain. I got a ride with one person. When we got to the top, I knew it was a narrow forest road and that another vehicle was on the way up, so I waited. I considered driving up to the lookout but I also didn't want to miss going to dinner. I waited for James and Karin, then followed them down.

May 12, 2024

Covel Creek Falls, Part II

Distance: 1.53 miles
Elevation Gain: 255 feet
Maximum Elevation: 1,507 feet


The last day of the 3-day work party was short. We'd completed most of the tasks. A couple new people were there but there wasn't much to do. A small crew left early to go back up to Burley Mountain while the rest of us walked back over to the Covel Creek Trail to complete tread work and brushing.

Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis

As we were sitting outside on Friday night, I looked up and noticed what looked like clouds but they were streaked. With the naked eye we could see some faint colors but the camera (with 3-second exposure). 

Holy shit! It was epic. We hesitated whether to wake up the rest of the crew but opted not to. James set up a shot with the four of us.

James, Matt, Oliver, me