Forum Index > Trail Talk > Hi-Laker Meeting
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
Dave Weyrick
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 305 | TRs
Location: Poulsbo, WA
Dave Weyrick
  Top

Member
PostMon Feb 18, 2002 4:29 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
The February meeting of the Hi-Lakers is at 7:30 on Wednesday, February 20th at Mercer View Community Center on Mercer Island.  This month's program is a slide show of a trip made last summer by NWHiker's very own Brian Curtis and clan and is open to all interested in the high country.  I've read about his trip and can hardly wait to see the pictures.  Directions can be found below.  http://www.ci.mercer-island.wa.us/Page.asp?NavID=391

--------------
If I'd known ya was gonna use bait I wouldn't a brought ya!
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 22988 | TRs
Location: Cle Elum
Backpacker Joe
  Top

NWH Joe-Bob
PostTue Feb 19, 2002 12:46 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I am going to make this meeting if it kills me!  Ok, so I may be attending the meeting as a corpse, but I'll be there!

HA!

TB

--------------
"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian Curtis
Trail Blazer/HiLaker



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1473 | TRs
Location: Silverdale, WA
Brian Curtis
  Top

Trail Blazer/HiLaker
PostTue Feb 19, 2002 12:51 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Well, I guess since Dave went and announced my slide show, I may as well put up the trip report about the slides I'll be showing. Warning, it is a long trip report.

Great Bear Wilderness, Montana
August 17-25, 2001

It was a bull elk, complete with rack, that lay dead next to our intended camp site. The neighboring pile of scat stood as mute testimony to the owner of this kill. Our plans had to change. This was grizzly country.

The Great Bear Wilderness sits directly between the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park in northern Montana. Most of our trips are centered around areas with large concentrations of lakes but this one was exciting because we would have lots of streams and rivers to fish instead.

We had chosen to enter via the Spotted Bear River trail. The approach road was a twisty 70 miles long with the great majority surfaced in gravel so even though we had breakfasted in Kalispell in the early morning we weren't hiking until it was nearly afternoon. The highlight of the drive was spotting a large black bear. There were 4 in the party spanning 3 generations. Walt Curtis was the grandfather, Brian Curtis (that's me) the son, Jeffrey Early was the grandson. Sandy McKean rounded out the party. Barely two weeks before going on this trip I had gone on a long day hike with Sandy. He had forgotten the insoles to his boots so I had to lend him the ones out of the shoes I wore to the trail head. This time he did a bit better. He had one of his insoles. Back out came the insoles out of my shoes. Unfortunately the insoles in my shoes are no substitute for Sandy's custom fitted footbeds but there was no alternative at this point so in the boots they went.

Our first day was ambitious. About 9 miles and over 3000 feet of elevation gain up a dry south facing ridge. A couple years before we had been stopped short of our destination because the trail we thought we would have had been abandoned and our time had slowed to a crawl. At least that wouldn't happen again. Or so we thought. We felt good as we ate lunch next to Dean Creek near our trail junction. We had made good time down the river. We had no problem finding where the trail took off but there was no sign indicating it was a trail junction. The only sign was a Bob Marshall wilderness boundary sign. The boundary follows the top of the ridge that the trail was supposed to follow. The trail didn't look like it had been used very often.

The trail did climb the ridge. Relentlessly up with no chance for water anywhere. Downfalls were an irritant but not too frequent. At times the trail would dissappear in a braid of game trails. As we approached the top of the ridge the lack of sleep, heavy first day packs, elevation, late start, and heat began to really take their toll. To save time Jeffrey and I went on ahead until the first time the trail significantly dropped as it followed the ups and downs of the ridge, dropped our packs, and ran back to where Sandy and Walt were still struggling up the hill. We took their packs and we all hiked together to where our packs were dropped. Considering that Walt is 70 and Sandy is just 5 months removed from heart surgery they deserved to slow down a bit at the end of the day. We repeated this process a couple more times and arrived at Shadow Lake and the first water on the ridge, just as darkness fell. We were a tired bunch that night.

Shadow Lake was a small, shallow, but very productive lake. It was surrounded by sedges. I figured that if it could hold fish our gear wouldn't be adequate to catch the monsters that lake could grow. But we saw no sign of fish at this very high (7300') lake.

The next morning didn't start out well when Walt discovered he had left his heart medicine back in the car. We decided to go on with the trip so we saddled up and prepared to keep following Elk Ridge. The trail climbed steadily up Pot Mountain. At the top we were surprised to see the skeleton of a fire lookout. It had been a tower model and only the uprights and one part of one side of the walkway remained standing. One of the concrete footings was dated 1934. According to Ray Kresek's "Fire Lookouts of the Northwest" the Pot Mtn LO opened in 1937 and was abandoned in 1949. The view, dominated by Pentagon Peak, was outstanding.

The view for the entire day was outstanding. We had actually been a bit concerned about the views for this trip. Photos showed rounded hills with an occasional large cliff best illustrated by the famous Chinese Wall just to the SE of the area we were traipsing. We needn't have worried. Sure, the tops of the hills were rounded, but the sides sure weren't . Spectacular cliffs and huge valleys dominated the scene. We scrambled off Pot Mtn and on to the top of the next peak where we could see our first lake of the day: Pot Lake. There we found few signs of people and no fish.

We climbed from Pot Lake back to the top of the ridge and stayed there for most of the rest of  the day. It was getting to be late afternoon when we made a navigation error and wandered about a mile to a dead end side ridge. It was worth the trip as the ridge ended abruptly and we felt like we could practically jump into Dolly Varden Creek thousands of feet below. On the way back to the main ridge we spotted a beautiful big bull elk.

As with the first day the ups and downs on the bone dry ridge took their toll. It was getting late by the time we started the steep descent into the Unnamed Lake we dubbed Argosy Lake for the creek into which it drains. This was where Sandy's lack of decent foot beds really started to show. He was in great pain going down the steep hillside.

We found no campsites or signs of fish at the lake. But on the way out the next morning we did find snatches of a blazed route. It hadn't been maintained in many years and we couldn't follow it all the way down to the maintained trail running by Argosy Creek. The rest of the day was spent going down hill on trail back to the elevation we started from but this time we ended up on the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. Despite covering about nine miles the day had been easy compared to the previous two days. We set up camp near the river and I put up my fly rod to give it a try. I was eventually able to land a 13" cutthroat but couldn't get anything out of a couple other excellent looking holes.

When the wilderness was formed in 1978 they grandfathered in a grass airstrip and ranger station at Schafer Meadows. It was a bit strange to be camped right under the approach to the airstrip which was used several times before darkness finally descended. The next morning it wasn't long before we had waded across the river and found our way to the air strip. There were several planes and tents parked on the runway and we were just in time to get some photos of one plane taking off. We moseyed over to the ranger station where the ranger invited us in to chat. They have quite a complex in there. Built in the 1920's it is completely unrelated to the airstrip which the Forest Service only uses in emergencies. The cabin was filled with memorabilia collected in the area over the decades and it was fun to just look around. They have a large crew of people and horses stationed there. The guy we talked to had drawn in camp duty because a mule had broken his foot and he wasn't allowed to go out and clear trails. He told us stories about people who come in and use the air strip. One party came in just to reserve their campsite. They had to go fly to Kalispell to buy their camping gear. One large party was flown in and put on a waiting pack train of horses. The horses carried them roughly one quarter mile down to the river where the people were dropped off to go fishing on their own.

After putting a few miles between ourselves and this little outpost of civilization we decided to drop down to the river and fish down it for the rest of the afternoon. We didn't find an overabundance of really outstanding holes in the particular stretch we chose and fishing turned out to be mediocre for mostly 9"-10" cutthroat. That night we camped where the trail crossed Morrison Creek. Sandy said the side creeks wouldn't support any decent fish so I set out determined to prove him wrong and supply the party with a fish dinner. So I fought my way up the creek and found a nice little hole that housed a 12 incher to prove Sandy wrong. That and a few smaller fish had us eating in style that night. But before cooking dinner we had to settle in and have our traditional drink and nuts. Right as we were sitting down Jeffrey asked if anyone wanted a cold beer. Before we could recover from our initial shock at the question Jeffrey was up and bounding away. He returned with a can of MGD. I've never had a can of industrial piss brew taste so good. Jeffrey had found it along the river earlier in the day. Judging from the can it had bounced around in high water for a while.

We started to see a few other packing parties the next day. A couple were camped along the river. It was about seven miles down to where the trail to Castle Lake took off. We had to ford the river back to the other side, but the river had gotten much larger this far down. right where the Castle lake trail crosses is a beautiful hole. We had to decide whether to cross before or after lunch. A couple rises convinced us to lunch before crossing. i quickly set up and put on an elk hair caddis. Nothing. Sandy wasn't too far behind me. He put on an Adams and it didn't take too long before he had a beauty on. It was a fat 15.5" westslope cutthroat that fought like the dickens. I ran down to the next hole down. It produced an 11" cutthroat, but even better, I found an old lure box that had obviously been in the river for some time sitting on a rock. I stuck it in my pocket and went back up so we could all see what was inside. I felt like Geraldo opening Al Capone's vault. Afterward I felt even more that way. All that remained inside were two cheesy spinners and a snap swivel.

Unable to catch any more fish we headed up to the lake. On the shore a guy was standing with a rifle at the ready. We kept approaching him but he didn't see us. Then he raised the gun to his shoulder and fired. His concentration broken he finall noticed us and started walking away. We followed but he stole off to the anonymity  of his camp in the trees. There was another group camped across the lake. We wouldn't be alone on this night. We found a third horse camp that had all the associated smells but the well used campsite was well located. The lake itself was quite unusual. The trail came up the outlet, but the outlet had not seen water in many years. The lake level was way down like a reservoir and it was evident the basin leaked underground. Fishing was good. I landed 7 westslope cutthroat from 15 to 16 inches in a couple hours of fishing. But the fish were lethargic and kind of skinny. None weighed nearly as much as Sandy's from the main river.

Cold from being out in the boat we decided to have a fire that night. As we were sitting around eating our nuts a couple guys from one of the horse parties (not the shooter) came sauntering over for a chat. He informed us that a stage one fire ban had just been instituted a few days before and our fire was illegal. My dad put a couple more sticks of wood on the fire (no fire danger in this denuded campsite) and we kept chatting. He found out we were from Seattle and said that was a good place to be from but not to be. "You have a lot of Greenies out there, don't you?" He said there had been 30 horses at the lake the previous weekend. They had passed them as they were coming in. When we got back to the trailhead we discovered that the fire restriction had indeed been made, but it hadn't gone in to effect until the day we came out so our fire had been perfectly legal.

This portion of the trip featured several large lakes. Castle was the northernmost and we were going to take them in a leisurely fashion one at a time so we'd have time to fish the large lakes. We hadn't counted on Cascades style brush and unforeseen cliffs to get in the way. The brush started immediately. The hidden nettles mixed in were probably the worst part. From below we had seen one cliff band that looked like it would be tough. We were heartened to find a solid game trail going up the chute we needed to navigate. The trail finally left the chute and climbed onto the little ridge were it promptly turned into the niftiest little route you'll ever find. The trail was plastered against a cliff with a band of alders serving as the other side of a tunnel and guardrails that made the route perfectly safe and fun. As we crested the hill into a hanging valley the brush became clogged with logs from old slides and the going involved a lot of ups and downs. Finally, we crested to top of the pass and fell into a heap of sweat to eat a well deserved lunch. But we still had another valley to negotiate before we could drop into Bradley Lake.

Our target pass looked iffy from a distance. Since they almost always look iffy from a distance we contoured around the valley with as much confidence as we could muster. The side hill kept getting steeper and steeper as we approached the pass saying right under the cliff band. It looked like game were headed up the first available steep scree chute. I followed the game path into the chute and then onto a steep rib that, fortunately had lots of small trees to hang on to. So in the end we made it up through the cliffs to the pass. Much relieved, we looked down the valley at Bradley Lake which wasn't there. The lake bed was there, but it had almost all completely drained out leaving only a small puddle at the outlet end.

The lake bed  turned out to be quite fascinating. We followed animal tracks and noticed where the lake level was when the stone flies hatched. Walt headed up the inlet to see if there was a stream flowing that went underground. He found one and we decided to camp at that end. While we were off filling a bag of nice fresh water Sandy  made the trek down the lake bed for his nightly bath. We knew something weird was up when he returned without his pants on. he said it was the worst bath he had ever had. The lake was crammed full of leeches and small bugs. He couldn't wash of without getting covered with creatures and mud.

The next day's trip over to Flotilla turned out easier then expected due to finding an unexpected trail. We crashed the brush for about an hour when we stumbled onto a bootleg trail someone had cleared. It took us right over the pass and down to Flotilla Lake. Flotilla suffered from the same lack of outlet as Bradley and Castle, but even though it was down 20 to 30 feet there was still plenty of water for fish. Winds were gusting over 20 mph so we elected not to go out in boats. Fishing from shore was slow but steady. We caught Yellowstone cutthroat up to 15".

There was a maintained trail out of the lake. We had some trouble picking it up, but eventually found our way. We spent a lot of time wondering with surprise about how little used the trail was. About two thirds of the way down we discovered that we had been following the old trail and a new one had been built that, naturally, carries most of the traffic to the lake.

We camped that night at Scott Lake. It was another large lake, but didn't suffer from the drainage problems the higher lakes had exhibited. Despite the strong winds still gusting we blew up the boats and headed out because it was almost impossible to fish from shore. The trouble was it was almost impossible to fish from boats. Most of the lake was under two feet deep and full of weeds. Finally, as we struggled back in against the wind I spotted a couple fish rising in a narrow channel that headed toward the outlet. I landed a beautiful 15.5" cutthroat but couldn't catch any more because it was time to go in. I got up early the next morning and tried the channel again. It took me a few minutes to find the spot, but a couple rises by some huge slabs gave the spot away. Every time I cast my fly over one particular whole I earned a rise. My first one was 16" and each subsequent fish seemed to get larger and in the end I had landed a couple 18 inchers and several 17 inchers. All were strong, scrappy fighters. It turned out that there was one small deep hole there and it was chock full of fish one on top of the other. Almost literally like shooting fish in a barrel.

Sadly, we had to leave because we had a long day ahead. We made great time up the trail and we were at Gunsight Lake before we expected. The lake sits in a beautiful setting. Gunsight rock is right above and is really a pair of large squared off rocks that are well named. The interesting Whitcomb Mountain sits off the other direction and completes the scene. We were following a social trail around to what appeared to be the only campsite at the lake when we discovered the dead elk with its neighboring pile of bear scat. All of a sudden this camp spot didn't seem very inviting and we decided a high camp was in order. We emptied most of the weight out of Jeffrey's pack and distributed it amongst our selves. We then filled our Curtis Designs water bag and loaded it into Jeffrey's pack. We tied the top string up over the top of his pack so it wouldn't fall over. It was 600' up to the pass and somehow Jeffrey made it up without stopping. But we didn't like all the trees around and kept going up the mountain. We finally settled on a camp on the summit of Gunsight Mountain with a view that seemed to encompass the rest of the world. A wonderful and perfect night on which to end our trip.

We did manage to make one navigation error on the way out. The cowboy at Castle Lake had told us the Gunsight trail hadn't been maintained and was closed to stock. He also told us they had almost completely reopened the Dean Creek trail. What we hadn't done was put those two places together. So when we found the Gunsight trail had been relatively recently cleared we figured his information was old. But when it started heading in a funny direction we finally got out the map and realized where the Dean Creek trail must connect. We had only gone out of our way a short distance, but we were really embarrassed when we found a sign at the trail junction that we had overlooked. And we found that the Gunsight trail did indeed need to be cleared. Fortunately, that wasn't true all the way back to the car. The lower portion had been recently cleared and it was only a couple miles where it traversed the ridge that needed further maintenance.

So we hobbled out to the car to find the parking lot full of horse trailers. The one parked next to our camper had two bumper stickers in its back window: "Tread lightly, use an environmentalist for traction" and "I wouldn't be radical if you weren't so stupid." I was sitting on a stump when for guys came up on horses. The first guy stops and looks at the truck for a long time then turns to his buddy and says "Good bumper stickers."

The drive out seemed even longer then it had on the way in. In Kalispell we were treated to more bumper stickers. The best one said "Honk if you've bitch-slapped an environmentalist today."

--------------
that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
McPilchuck
Wild Bagger



Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 859 | TRs
Location: near Snohomish, Wa.
McPilchuck
  Top

Wild Bagger
PostTue Feb 19, 2002 10:03 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I will say this:  I have given 14 slide shows myself (none at the Hi-Lakers though, mostly at the Snohomish Sportsmens Club, Steelhead Trout Club and the Trail Blazers Club over the years) however, nobody does it better than Brian Curtis and his dad Walt. All the ones I have ever seen Brian do, are very well done and laid out, to include some "great photography!" If I could I would attend...recollecting that the last time I attended a Hi-Laker meeting, Brain was giving a slide show of an Alaska hiking trip I think...that was a few years back.

--------------
in the granite high-wild alpine land . . .
www.alpinequest.com
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 22988 | TRs
Location: Cle Elum
Backpacker Joe
  Top

NWH Joe-Bob
PostWed Feb 20, 2002 3:13 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Wonderful report Brain, (again) and I appologize IN advance..... I have to work late tonight!

RATS!

TB

--------------
"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Tom
Admin



Joined: 15 Dec 2001
Posts: 15618 | TRs

Tom
  Top

Admin
PostWed Feb 20, 2002 4:03 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I will definitely be there for this one.  Who else is planning to show?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
salish
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 2280 | TRs
Location: Seattle
salish
  Top

Member
PostWed Feb 20, 2002 5:15 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
I'll be there, too.

--------------
My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be.
Also, my short-term memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
salish
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 2280 | TRs
Location: Seattle
salish
  Top

Member
PostThu Feb 21, 2002 10:16 am 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Great slide show, Brian! It was great following you and your dad, nephew, and Sandy through the wilds on Montana. I had to leave at the break, but I sure enjoyed the show. Thank you.
Cliff

--------------
My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be.
Also, my short-term memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
Tom
Admin



Joined: 15 Dec 2001
Posts: 15618 | TRs

Tom
  Top

Admin
PostThu Feb 21, 2002 12:06 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Yep, great slide show.  Great to finally meet Brian.  Just wondering who else from the board showed up?  I recall seeing Dave Weyrick, Jonathan, Benjamin, Salish, Polarbear, Beave, Randy, Slide Alder Slayer, Sandy, did I leave anyone out?

Brian brought one of his famed rafts which garnered several oohs and aahs during the break.  The trusty digital scale uncovered yet another 1.6 oz of mfr. fibbing wink.gif which to be fair was nowhere near the 1 lb 4 oz of fibbing found in the Sevylor Trail Boat eek.gif.

Actual Weights:
Curtis Designs Raft:  1 lb 14.6 oz  (incl. paddles & inflatabag)
Sevylor HF 160 Trail Boat:  4 lb 12.5 oz (incl. oars & inflatabag)
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Brian Curtis
Trail Blazer/HiLaker



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 1473 | TRs
Location: Silverdale, WA
Brian Curtis
  Top

Trail Blazer/HiLaker
PostThu Feb 21, 2002 12:39 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Old Timer was there, too.

We hadn't actually weighed any boats for 20 years when we had to use a spring scale to get the weight. I just weighed a couple boats on a digital scale to see how much variability there was. Just weighing the boat itself, an older model weighed 20.7 oz. But a newer model weighed 23.7 oz. Yikes! It looks like the current batch of fabric is heavier then the older batches. The demo you weighed was using old fabric.

--------------
that elitist from silverdale wanted to tell me that all carnes are bad--Studebaker Hoch
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 22988 | TRs
Location: Cle Elum
Backpacker Joe
  Top

NWH Joe-Bob
PostThu Feb 21, 2002 12:43 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Work work and more work.  Sorry I missed it AGAIN!  Mr. HONEST Brian.  I have four of the older boats!  Light is right!

TB

--------------
"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide."

— Abraham Lincoln
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
polarbear
Member
Member


Joined: 16 Dec 2001
Posts: 3683 | TRs
Location: Snow Lake hide-away
polarbear
  Top

Member
PostThu Feb 21, 2002 7:09 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Nice slide show.  It's always great seeing remote places like that which I'll probably never get to.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Tom
Admin



Joined: 15 Dec 2001
Posts: 15618 | TRs

Tom
  Top

Admin
PostThu Feb 21, 2002 7:44 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Ahh, Old Timer, where were you sitting?
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
Oldtimer
Member
Member


Joined: 18 Dec 2001
Posts: 63 | TRs

Oldtimer
  Top

Member
PostFri Feb 22, 2002 7:52 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Next to last row, right behind Walt Curtis (Brian's father), next to Jeffrey Early (Brian's nephew), on his right. I have a grey crewcut and 4 ears (two behind-the-ear hearing aids, souvenirs of WWII).
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Reply to topic Reply with quote
salish
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Dec 2001
Posts: 2280 | TRs
Location: Seattle
salish
  Top

Member
PostFri Feb 22, 2002 10:45 pm 
Reply to topic Reply with quote
Oldtimer, wish I could have met you. How's that Cho-Pat knee strap working out?
Cliff

--------------
My short-term memory is not as sharp as it used to be.
Also, my short-term memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Reply to topic Reply with quote
  Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours
Forum Index > Trail Talk > Hi-Laker Meeting
  Happy Birthday RobfromFLA!
Jump to:   
Search this topic:

You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum
   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB Privacy Policy