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cascadetraverser
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PostThu May 14, 2020 8:46 pm 
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The Cross Cascade Route, July 1995

I had always wanted to do a complete traverse (as much as possible) of the Cascades and in my frequent studies of Crowder and Tabor`s R and R classic, I had come across a suggestion of a series of traverses linked by some trail sections that fit the bill for a full cross cascade trip  (see Page 5 and page 230 for their description).  My friend Patrick and I had done a section of the Sierra High Route and had hiked the Olympic coast from Oil City to Shi Shi beach together. He was great company, pretty tireless and was excited for this trip.  We allotted 11 days total to do it.

Day one:  We set off from Ice Lakes Trailhead on a very warm day after getting the long ride to the Entiat trailhead from my girlfriend at the time, (wife now).  The plan was to hike as far as possible that day end- route to Ice Lakes, our packs were heavy though.  We made it about 10 miles and stopped.  I hadn`t really paid much attention to Patrick`s food prep for the trip, as he had done trips with me before and I thought he could likely figure it out just fine on his own.  Bad idea…. He plunked down a medium sized bag of rice side by side with a medium sized bag of dried beans (maybe enough for two meager days of dinner!) We would need about 10 dinners for the trip, half his responsibility, ouch!.  I grumbled; to make matters worse his stove was the one we had brought for the trip and instead of producing a steady flame, it rumbled and pouted its way to very poor intermittent puffs of fire, an impossible way to cook anything. After troubleshooting failed, cooking over a fire was what it would have to be. So we got to work. I was sure nice to be out.


Day Two:  Fire boiled coffee and oatmeal and off without too much trouble for the Ice lakes.  Ran into 2 guys en route with rifles in hand “livin off the land for a week” they said; apparently, they shot anything that moved.  Friendly though, thankfully.  We arrived at the Ice lakes; so pretty and camped at the lower one, green and less stark than the higher lake. We fished them both successfully happily as we were gonna need to supplement those meager rice and bean rations.


Day Three:  Dropped over the minor saddle west into the Phelps Creek drainage and once down off the steeps headed northwest first on trail and then below Seven Fingered Jack, visited a snowy lake and then set up camp in a rarely visited basin in a larch dotted forest.


Day Four: We continued travelling cross country northwest under the shadow of Seven finger Jack until we hit a steep shoulder and as our next destination was Phelps creek below, eventually dropped down several thousand feet through easy forest and took a right at the trail. We hiked up to the beautiful campsite at the head of the valley.  It was a cool cloudy night; the weather was about to change. Another fire and dinner.  Fortunately, my rations were much more generous!


Day Five:  Awoke to cool thick clouds.  We followed the cross-country route as per T and C which headed southwest over the ridge, fortunately not hard to navigate in the poor weather; and dropped us steeply into the Chiwawa basin.  The clouds were streaming over the ridge to our north and dissipated as they hit the east side but then thickened and before long rain set in.


Day Five:   Decided to take a break in cloudy conditions (with increasing breaks) and made a pretty easy climb of Chiwawa with improving weather.  The environs of Chiwawa basin are special; numerous creeks empty into rock gardens and the valley view down is really nice.  The weather was improving, and the basin was warming and brightening.


Day Six:  Woke to  sunny skies and made our way below Formidable on our right and to the saddle north of Massie Peak without much trouble we then dropped to a well-worn path which took left went to Massie Lake but we went right and hiked by trail again to Buck Creek Pass, always an pleasant place. We then followed the path at the time (a full on trail now) that took in great views all around and headed south west eventually to the big butte east of Triad lake; pining for a cool cleansing dip we headed down and camped at the North end of the lake. The swim was refreshing indeed but no rises could be seen.  The lake was sterile and no fishing that night.


Day Seven:  Gorgeous day and we had little difficulty cruising over High Pass and down the tremendously beautiful Valley that eventually drops one into the Napeequa valley (Happy to find the nice trail down through the Alder finish as it is a lot harder to find from the bottom end).  We then headed right, down the brushy Napeequa trail for a spell eventually intersecting with the Boulder Basin trail.  The Napeequa river in the hot July weather was running very high. It didn`t look crossable with poles or an ice axe, so what to do? Hike out Little Giant Pass? No way!  I had a brought a long belay rope, so we set up a belay that allowed Patrick and then me to pendulum supported by belay, across the high thigh deep water.  I doubt we could have gotten across if not for that. I can`t say I have used that technique before or since.  But it worked.  Fortunately, the current was uniform and no big rocks en route so all went well.  We then hiked the trail up to Boulder Basin and made camp.


Day Eight:  The Clark Mountain High route was next.  Got an early start and the promising path faded to nothing quickly.  A bunch of cliff bands made slow and tired going but once past that we moved quicker.  There was little shade to be had and the hot sun made the endless side hilling tiresome; our goal of getting to Thunder basin was not gonna happen.  The whole high route traverses a series of basins and the last big one had a nice camp and pretty hot and tired we crashed.  After dinner over a fire of course, a chorus of coyotes serenaded us to sleep.


Day Nine:  We continued traversing though pretty thick but passable brush and without too much trouble landed in lovely Thunder Basin.  We had hoped to spend the night there but had a lot of trip still left and only another two days on the docket so a lunch break was all Thunder basin would get from us.  we dropped down the climber’s path, first through thick alder and dropped several thousand feet to the fading White River Trail (I think it is very faint to nonexistent today) which was very followable back then but had loads of downfall to negotiate.  A long jaunt took us to White Pass and then onto proper maintained trail to Red Pass and eventually we camped in the upper White Chuck Basin. I should add, we ran into the first people we had seen since the 2 hunters on day 2. Times have changed….  Our original plan had been to finish with the Painted Traverse, but timing would not allow.


Day ten:  A long drop on the White Chuck river trail eventually landed us at the Kennedy Hot Springs, still alive and well and the perfect finish for our tired bones.  Our ride met us there and we all relaxed for a long soak.


Day eleven:  The last day was a quick 6 miles to the car at the White Chuck River Trailhead. Finish….

All in all, a nice combo of trail and traverse. As crowded as things can be these days, it’s nice to look back and realize we only ran into one party for our first 10 days.  It would have been nice to have an additional 2 days to finish the trip with the Painted Traverse, but it was still very cool.  I think this same trip could be done and the White River slog could be avoided by staying high out of Thunder basin into White Pass.

Approximate route:
http://www.hillmap.com/m/ag1zfmhpbGxtYXAtaGRychULEghTYXZlZE1hcBiAgICu58SjCgw
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Stefan
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PostFri May 15, 2020 8:59 am 
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Nice!

I like on Day 6 how you went from Chiwawa to FORMIDABLE to Massie in one day.  You kicked ass!  : )

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glenoid
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PostFri May 15, 2020 9:19 am 
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Nice Marc! Great to see some pictures of the tales and trails you tell me about. Who took the pictures? And how did you digitalize them to put in a TR?? (You must have too much Covid induced free time!)
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cascadetraverser
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PostFri May 15, 2020 11:43 am 
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Stefan:  Don’t give me too much credit. I climbed Chiwawa and passed next to Formidable and Massie....I am sure that is what you would have done though!

Glenn, I got my old photo albums out and took pictures of them with my iphone (the kids said scanning is way better but I found that too complicated)  then transferred  them to Flickr and posted. You can see some table background on a few of them that scanning likely would have avoided, oh well....
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cascadetraverser
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PostFri May 15, 2020 2:25 pm 
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I passed next to Fortress, not Formidable! Opps...
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FiresideChats
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PostSat May 16, 2020 9:24 am 
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Fun one. What a trip. Thanks for sharing.
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RichP
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PostSat May 16, 2020 10:48 am 
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After 25 years, are you still hiking with Patrick?
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cascadetraverser
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PostSun May 17, 2020 8:10 am 
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Rich:  Patrick did a couple more big trips (I made sure to pack my stove and enough food!).  with me and then headed off to Physician Assistant School and we haven’t seen much of each other since. I don’t do Facebook but someone I know does and follows him so I’ll have to figure out a way to send this TR His way.
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timberghost
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PostMon May 18, 2020 5:25 am 
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Thanks for sharing
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cascadeclimber
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PostTue May 19, 2020 6:47 pm 
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Day eleven:  The last day was a quick 6 miles to the car at the White Chuck River Trailhead. Finish….

Ahh, the good old days of the White Chuck TH and Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight tents. I used both more than a few times.

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Hiking Tuque
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PostSun May 24, 2020 7:42 am 
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Thanks for sharing although I might add that those pictures - clearly taken with this thing called "film" - were an unfair reminder of lost youth.  Being twenty something in the mid-90s was awesome (not to mention the fact that the crowds in the Cascades were a fraction of what they are today).
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