Monday, September 18, 2017

Ben & Kevin’s Excellent Pasayten Adventure

On Sat Aug 19 2017 I completed the UPWC route B & K in 20 hours and 10 min. The route was 55 miles long.

I drove up to Iron gate in the Pasayten in north east Washington on Fri night after work. I got up to the trail head late as it is a 6+ hour drive from Seattle with Friday evening rush hour.  The last bit of road is a bit rough, but with slow careful driving I was able to make it in my Subaru Impreza. Setting the alarm for to early I am up and on the trail by 4am. It was unusually warm I thought for this hour , elevation and time of year. Off I moving on trail 533 taking my first left on trail 343. This trail takes me to a right turn on trail 342. It is still dark at this point. Last year I had run all these trails on another UPWC route in the light. Today I was out for the completion of this route.

It is starting to get light as I approach Windy peak. I summit this last year, so today I will move on to see what else there is in store for me. As I pass the left on trail 360 Basin creek I realized something it wrong. I have to add a extra quarter mile here back tracking to where trail 360 leaves this trail. There is no sign to tell you are on Basin creek trail. It is cross country travel for a bit till a faint trail appears. I would for the next 6 miles be on the trail, loose the trail, consult GPS and find the trail, then repeat this process till I got low enough in elevation to be able to stay on the trail. I would step over, under and go around what felt like 1,000 trees on this section.

This is a photo of one of the better parts of this section.

Once I got to the Chewuch river trail # 550 taking a right here life got a lot better. I saw horse hoof prints and knew this would be a easy cruse. I was gaining elevation, but had a good trail. If it is designed for horses, it would be easy travel for me. One of the highlights of this section was following the Chewuch river. I would get views on and off of the river for the miles I traveled along it. Below are some photos of my time along the river.

My next turn was right on the Boundary trail. I would be on this trails for a while leading me past Cathedral lake.

This was my favorite part of this trip. I loved this open country to roam through. I would like to backpack this area some day going slow through here. It is quite remote and would take two day to get to at walking pace. 

This was my favorite spot on the trip. Cathedral lake is wow!!! These are larch trees that turn golden in the fall. The ideal time to be here would be when they all turn. You can see the pass I am headed toward in the center of the photo. 

Here is the lake looking down from the pass in the last photo. 

I a headed to the mtns on the left center in this photo. Again, this is very nice running country to cruise through. 

An old relic of days past on the trail. 

I took a right on trail 533 on my way to Sunny pass. As you can see I am almost out of sunlight. I am chasing the shadow line on my way back to my car. From Sunny pass it is 5.2 mostly downhill miles to my car at Iron gate. The trail is easy going for which I am grateful as moving at night is a bit slower than day. 

The end of a great trip. Thanks Ras for posting to Ultra Prescription Wilderness Challenge. Thank you to everyone that reads and follows along with my adventures. I hope this inspires you to go out and see new places and experience new things. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Owyhigh Lakes loop

On Sat July 29 I ran/hiked the Owyhigh lake loop on Mt Rainier. This loop is 33 miles long with 9493 ft of elevation gain. It took me 11 hours to complete the loop.

Mt Rainier is a beautiful park with well maintained trails. It is a joy to travel along these as I work my way up to summerland. 

This next photo is of panhandle gap where I am headed. 

Once at panhandle gap you will look out toward indian bar in the distance traveling over easy snow fields. 

One of the local residents in this area,  your marmot neighbor. 

In this area I caught up with a fellow hiker/runner asking directions as all the snow had got him confused on where the trail was. I pulled up my route on my smartphone and gps watch and showed him where the trail lead. He was going my way and out for a day trip. He decided to join me for a few miles until we got to the grove of the patriarchs. Next up for us was indian bar in photo below. 

Once we climb out of indian bar I get a nice view of Rainier.

Grove of the patriarchs is a very nice trail for people that want a nice place to hike with relatively flat trail a couple miles long. I travel along this for a little while before turning left up the eastside trail. 

Here is a welcome sign. 8.2 mile till the road. I will pass by the Owyhigh lake above on my way there. This is quite a climb that goes on for awhile. Luckily for me it was mostly in the trees providing some nice shade. 

This was the toughest part of the journey for me. Walk/running along this road with no shoulder was a bit unnerving. I am glad the cars were for the most part generous with the distance they gave me. 

Northern Mother mt loop

On July 29, I ran the Northern Mother my loops in 23 hours. This route had 16,837 ft of elevation gain over 47 miles.

I started the route at 6pm from the sunrise parking lot after completing the Owyhigh route. The area around sunrise was quite crowded as I ventured out onto the trail. After spending so much time alone on the Owyhigh route, I put my headphones on to isolate myself for the crowd. After a few miles I was on the Northern trail. The scenery is amazing on Rainier. The Northern trail upheld the standard.

 My first highlight was this meadow that appears to stretch on forever.

 I would see people camping and hiking here and there. Next I had this great downhill run to the valley bottom.

The sun was filtering through the trees making this one of those special times to run. Once at the river, I would have the biggest challenge of this route. I found ribbons and cairns to follow leading me across logs to where I would need to ford. There was a hand line but the river was waist deep there. After some other attempts, I found a spot 100 feet downstream only knee deep. More flagging and cairns lead me to the trail as the light was fading in the trees.It was headlamp time now as I climbed toward spray park.

At some point I stop by a stream to filter water and have a snack. I noticed moth fluttering about my headlamp. I would then notice a shadow pass by and no moth. I think I had a bat near by I was providing  a feeding station. I took off after a bit. In a while later, I was quite tired and took a 45 min nap.

One of the things I love about night moving is watching the darkness fade to light.

I was in the beginning of Spray Park at this time. It was a joy to climb up through this terrain alone in the morning light. There tranquile to me about this.

The spell was not broken until I came across a early hiker taking photos of the sunrise. I was on my way down at this point toward Mowich lake. As time and miles passed I passed many more people on their way to Spray Park.

At Mowich lake I took a short break to eat and redo gear as it was starting to get warm with the morning coming on. I short while later I was at Ipsut pass traveling down a freshly brushed path. Life was good. I pass 5 groups of hikers in the bottom of the valley working their way up toward Ipsut pass. A easy river crossing lead me to the trail that parallels the carbon river and glacier.

This is a big climb up past Mystic lake and onto the ridge top  that is my high point of this trip. It feels good to look down and know I have easy miles to my car. I start to meet a lot of people as I approached Frozen lake above Sunrise. I am back in the busy parking lot, change and start driving looking forward to that mug of chai tea at the store in Greenwater just down the road.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Spider on Steroids (SOS)

Sat July 15 I ran a route called Spider on Steroids in 20 hours. The route is ~50 miles long and has ~12,500 feet of elevation gain traveling over six mountain passes. Info for the route can be found here

I used topo map I used was Green trails Holden was no 113

River crossing at Little Giant trailhead.

This photo is just downriver from where I crossed. From the trailhead walked down to the river and bushwacked up stream to a gravel bar crossing there. The water was knee deep until one part where it came up to private parts for 10 ft until it went back to knee deep. I then bushwacked back downstream to the trail.

River to Little Giant pass.

Staying on the trail took careful looking in the beginning until I started up the hill. There was some blowdown  on the trail. I as able to work around everything. I think I am the first person to travel up this trail this season. I saw and will continue to follow animal track for quite awhile.

View as I travel up the hill.

Trail leads to snow patch in center of photo. I was able to work around it and was at Little Giant pass.

Warning post from last year's fire at Little Giant pass.

Little Giant pass to head of Napeequa valley. 

I keep a sharp eye on the gps track as following the trail off the pass was questionable at times. I think this is more animal track than people trail.

Valley I am traveling up.

The trail will vary between this and decent trail. For sections like this, your feet are on trail and the brush is brushing against your chest. My lower legs took a beating in places like this.

Nice waterfall in the valley.

Head of valley to High Pass

The climb up from the valley has a trail but is takes contraction to stay on it. It fades in and out at times. I think more animals travel on it than people. It is quite steep. Once you reach the top of the trail you will be in a hanging valley.

This is the view you will have looking up the valley you will be traveling. I was on snow for most of this. There were small patches of bare ground that I would see evidence of people travel.

Lake below point just before I reach High pass.

High pass in distance on left. Yes I am traveling across more snow. I am glad I had my ice axe.

High pass to Suiattle pass.

I am glad I had my ice axe for the small patches of snow I had to cross in the photo. Once I was done with the snow I had great trail to run on. It was nice to start making good time on good trails.

A left at Buck creek pass and more nice cruising to the PCT.

Buck mtn I think.

The PCT was a dream. It was so nice to travel on this well groomed trail.

Suiattle pass to Spider gap. 

This photo shows Cloudy pass in distance. I am glad for my ice axe crossing these little snow patches.

Nice valley to somewhere.

I am excited to see this view. Lyman lake and Spider gap in the distance. I have enough light to make it over the gap. Trail down to lake, around and to base of gap is a easy go. I saw many people camping and hiking around here.

Looking back on Lyman lakes to where I had come from.

Spider gap closer view now as I am almost there. I was able to travel on some rock and snow as I passed over the gap.

Spider gap to Little Giant trailhead. 

I was on snow half sliding my way down the snow field to dry ground.

View down valley I am traveling. The trail down this section was a little rough until I got  the valley floor. Once there I was on very good trail I could make good time on. I crossed through many streams on my way to Phelps creek trailhead. The road section was a bit long but I was glad that I did it at night as there was no vehicle traffic. 

This was a great trip and would recommend people with a sense of adventure to give it a go. Thank you Ras for posting it to UPWC. Thank you Heather for your slide show on it to entice me into running it.