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gb
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 1:25 pm 
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This was a really cool trip, better than my expectations. It was about half on trail and about half off trail. I chose the Goat Rocks over other destinations because of a lesser 30% chance of Isolated thunderstorms in the South Cascades as opposed to much higher probabilities further north - that didn’t work out as well as planned. Having chosen the Goat Rocks, and wanting to climb Curtis Gilbert, this trip just kind of worked itself out in the planning stages. I looked at photos and descriptions in 101 hikes, Beckey’s Guide, and looked at photos on a couple of trip reports as well.

Based on the fact that there was probably still a good deal of this year’s firn left and little old firn or exposed ice I went with my expensive but invaluable Camp aluminum axe. I opted not to carry even aluminum crampons, justifying this decision by saying that I could travel moraine, miserable as it might be, or traverse below snow and ice if need be. Freezing levels were forecast to be fairly high by later Monday through Wednesday so I also had the option with the 5 days allotted to wait for softening. Not taking crampons, indeed steel crampons, would not be a good choice on a lighter snow year, later in the season, or in colder weather!

I decided to do a loop both of trails and of the southwest and north sides of the range. My plan was to go cross crountry to Warm Lake, then to visit Cold Lake beneath the Conrad Glacier, cross a col to Tieton Glacier, descend to Ives Basin, and then climb that basin and go up Old Snowy, and exit out Goat Lake and Goat Ridge to Berrypatch.

DAY ONE

To Warm Lake


DAY TWO

After being clear at night, at dawn there were a few clouds that showed early signs of instability. I felt certain it would rain not that late on this day. While my earlier plans had been to climb Curtis Gilbert and then move camp to somewhere near Cold lake, I amended them to do a climb and then layover a second night at Warm lake. I had plenty of time for this option in the five days I allotted. With an early start I worked back to the ridge I had descended and climbed to Klickton Divide (the SE ridge of Curtis Gilbert). Initially the way was easy on the open rounded ridge with little sign of previous travel. As the ridge narrowed occasionally a path appeared a few feet below on the right side. Two-thirds of the way up the narrow part of the ridge small gendarmes appear and are passed 20-40’ below the crest on the south side. When the ridge broadened abruptly at 7000’ and there was a small snow basin to the right I left the path which must have gone up fairly steep and loose terrain and crossed the basin and ascended an easy rounded ridge to Pt. 7508’. Shortly, following the easy crest, I was above Meade Glacier (now un-crevassed isolated snowfields). A more pronounced path finally appeared and led to about 200-300’ below the summit of the peak. A 15’ cliff band was passable only on the far right or far left. I went far right and found good rock. Beckey says the highest point is on the NW. It is behind the first sharp pinnacle you see in that direction. It is easiest to climb the narrow chimney between the two sharp pinnacles on easy, solid rock to the summit. At the most this route is easy Class 3. It may have taken about 2-1/2 hours with ample time for photos. It is a very scenic route. The view from the summit is superb.

Unfortunately, already in mid-morning, clouds were building rapidly. For that reason I decided to descend Meade Glacier which I figured would be faster by 1/2-1 hour. While it is possible to descend the snow immediately below the summit blocks I chose to follow the ridge a little farther SE before descending the gentle snowfield diagonally NE towards the col NE of the summit. The snowfield ends at some glacially rounded bedrock humps. A series of ramps to and fro’ led to the flat snowfield adjacent to the col. From beneath the col I descended straight down (not too steep) on compacted moraine to a snowfield that at this time fills the flat valley bottom. Easy return to Warm Lake with one T-storm passing just by to my north. Heavy rain, thunder and lightning for several hours back at camp and somewhat secure in my tent. Scary for awhile.

DAY THREE
It took a while for my very wet tent fly to dry for packing. There are two options to get to the Conrad Glacier basin. A high route over the col from Meade Basin that descends Conrad Glacier or following the stream down from Warm Lake to the trail that is shown on the USGS map and traverses into the lower Conrad basin at 5900’. If you take the high route the snow ascending to the col looks a bit steeper and it is necessary to descend the glacier. Follow the right edge (still a strip of this year’s neve and no visible crevasses) to the base of the glacier. The easiest route (if old or new neve remains) is to traverse in the direction of the peak along the base of the glacier and then beneath a desiccated icefall into the flattish basin well above the lake. This could easily be ice or even black ice in late season. The glacier is currently about half ice. Since I had already seen the Meade Basin and wanted to see the meadows in the Conrad area I chose the lower route via the trail. From Warm Lake I was able to follow a trail about 1/3 mile to a campsite on a ridge above flat meadows, but couldn’t find it beyond here. This trail does not appear on a map. Easy meadows lead down along the small creek that drains the Warm lake area until a gorge is encountered at 6000’. Stay on the right side of the creek. I found what is probably an elk trail that leads up and right about 100’ above the gorge to easy meadows, which I then descended, once past the gorge, to flat meadows at 5900’. The traversing trail is only 100 yards downstream. Both Meade and Conrad Creeks must be forded - about calf deep and short ATP. Once across Conrad Creek a mostly animal path can be followed for the most part on diagonal meadowed ramps right of Conrad Creek (to bypass a waterfall) to flat ground in the upper meadows. Conrad Creek can only be crossed in a few places without wading, one of them ATP at the lake outlet.

A snowfield begins just at the lake’s western edge and fills most of the upper valley. I followed this and compact moraine just to it’s right to a narrower (200’ wide) snowfinger that heads to the col between the former Conrad Glacier (now gone on this side of the cirque) and Tieton Glacier. The most problematic area here is a very steep moraine 250’ below the col. To avoid nasty looking steep, unstable blocks I went right until dirt was visible and ascended diagonally through the moraine and then easily up to the col above. There is a bivy site here but cold with poor views. Descending Tieton Glacier there are two routes: Along the edge of the glacier which I feared could be bare or black ice in places or to the right of the very sharply crested moraine down a gentle snowfield. I chose the latter. In 300 vft. it is possible to work left easily to a rounded hump (there is a goat trail that does this). It would also be possible to descend along the left side of a stream below this snowfield on rocks but that may make it hard to get down from the sharp-crested right lateral moraine of the former glacier. The goats traverse steep  moraine towards the glacier. I chose instead an initially easy gully from the left side of the hump. Then for about 80’ this route became quite steep and I used my hands on embedded rocks and chose a route that maximized the number of embedded rocks. (Moraine itself and rocks that are not well embedded can easily break out putting one on one’s butt.) Lower angled but unpleasant moraine led down to flatter ground. Here I traversed left to a snowfield and followed it to it’s end around 6200’. Seeing Mountain Goats on a meadowed ridge to the west below me and knowing they are descent route finders I headed that direction (though I could also have stayed in the main old glacier bed). I worked diagonally down and left but was confronted with a 15’ foot high 45 degree hard dirt slope with a few embedded rocks. I was able to work my feet up and across this slope to a flattish ridge above thanks once again to the rocks. (I should have chopped steps here as traction was marginal). I continued to diagonal, dropping to avoid steeper slopes above. Around 6050-6100’ I reached the more gentle meadowed rib that leads into Ives Basin. I descended the lefthand of the two ribs (old pre-Little Ice Age moraines) on goat tracks to the basin at 5800’.

After lunch I worked initially up the left side of Ives Creek which became blocked by a tall and steep embankment and was lucky to find a crossing where the stream briefly braided. The water looked to be about two feet deep and very swift. Moraine on the north side of Ives Creek was compact and generally easy travel. I was aiming for the steep gully that descends from the 6760’ rock buttress to the right of the Ives drainage. It would have been too steep (there are two other routes here) but for the fact that a vegetated ribbon runs up the entire slope. I followed goat tracks up the vegetation to the saddle. I was tired.

DAY FOUR

With a leisurely start I worked easily northward onto snow slopes leading towards Old Snowy. I deliberated between two routes: Straight up to just east of the summit via a small hanging snowfield or traversing at 7200-7300’ (easy contours on the map) to the north ridge of Old Snowy. I ended up choosing the latter as I saw no need to carry a full pack over the summit. (I bypassed Ives here as it really didn’t mean anything to me. Ives could easily be ascended in 1-1/2 hours from this route.) The traverse is just above the obvious grey, junky rock peaklet. The traverse was easy but I did avoid a patch of old neve a short distance before the ridge. On the ridge, I had all day to eat a leisurely lunch, summit Old Snowy, read a book and find and enjoy a scenic camp. Old Snowy has a decent trail nearly to the summit. There are a couple of 10’ sections of not exposed, hands on climbing. At the elevation I hit the ridge a constructed trail not on the map drops straight down towards the 7205’ pt adjacent to a permanent snowfield and the PCT.

DAY 5

Going to be a hot day. Up before sunrise and out via Goat Lake and Goat Ridge. Very nice flowers just before Goat lake (which is still half snow-covered) and terrific flowers along two small streams just before the saddle to Jordan Basin. I think this route out is longer than the trail mileage indicates, especially from the last junction with 95A.

Overall, this is an incredibly nice trip. I was able to choose very scenic camps with adequate water, nice cooking areas and good toilet facilities (easy to dig). The skills required are similar to the Ptarmigan Traverse (which is considerably longer) except for glacier travel (which can be avoided) and bushwhacking (which is thankfully avoided). There is, at this time of year, considerable snow travel, and on day three in particular, a lot of travel on moraine. Fortunately, the glaciers being long gone, the moraines are mostly reasonably stable.
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wildernessed
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 3:19 pm 
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up.gif Just got back last night, awesome area. The terrain and wildflowers were impressive. Hot,Hot,Hot !

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kbatku
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 5:13 pm 
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How did you manage this without trespassing on closed Yakama  Reservation land?  Not to nag, just curious because I've wanted to do this for some time, but the illegal nature of my proposed route bothers me.

{edit} - OK, I see you took out the interesting part, where you walked past all the signs saying "Stay off our land" and made your way to Warm Lake. That answers that...
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kbatku
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 6:30 pm 
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My annoyance is far from academic. Yakamas take their land and their sovereignty very seriously. If they caught wind of an incursion onto their land by backpackers, they could very well retaliate by closing the three - four mile section of the PCT that crosses their land

It would be expensive and time consuming to relocate the trail, and any new route would forgo the beauty and the views of the Klickitat River valley and the area south of Cispus Pass. Please encourage anyone you know to avoid trespassing on Yakama lands, and if they do, please don't write about it here.
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 8:33 pm 
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That's an incredible sounding trip gb!  up.gif

kbatku wrote:
My annoyance is far from academic. Yakamas take their land and their sovereignty very seriously. If they caught wind of an incursion onto their land by backpackers, they could very well retaliate by closing the three - four mile section of the PCT that crosses their land

It would be expensive and time consuming to relocate the trail, and any new route would forgo the beauty and the views of the Klickitat River valley and the area south of Cispus Pass. Please encourage anyone you know to avoid trespassing on Yakama lands, and if they do, please don't write about it here.

The Yakima's land use policies really puzzle me; they don't want people hiking on a lot of their land, yet it can't be out of a wish to keep it pristine- the clear cutting that goes on in that reservation is horrendous!

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kbatku
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 9:27 pm 
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Got no argument with me there - their logging practices are straight out of the 1930's.
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 10:22 pm 
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You've got to remember that it IS their land. If they want to lock non-indians out and enforce it, there's nothing we can do about it but whine.

So yes, respect the signs. If it says keep out, well, keep out. All it takes is for one jerk to ruin things for the rest of us. We all know that, don't we?

And let us not be making the same mistake stupid burglars and morons do by posting their exploits on Facebook and Youtube. If you trespass, don't advertise it.

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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 10:50 pm 
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For those that feel the need to preach I understand there is a sign that says "Stay on the trails". This is my understanding.
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kbatku
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PostThu Aug 28, 2014 11:39 pm 
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I feel the need to preach in the same way that you feel the need to trespass. My admonishment breaks no laws and has no consequence (beyond you possibly thinking that I'm an ass for bringing it up) while those who choose to trespass may end up getting our access further restricted.  And that sign you walked past? It says much more than "stay on trails" and you know it.

Like I said, I've looked at that route for years, yet I've never done it. Out of respect for the law and out of respect for the Yakama I stay off the closed section unless invited.  If it gets out that hikers are poaching around the edges of the reservation the Yakama are quite capable of bringing a world of hurt down on our hiking community. I don't want that to happen, and neither should you.

Preach? Damn square.  Can I get an Amen!?!
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PostFri Aug 29, 2014 12:59 am 
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Exactly where do the Yakimas say people aren't supposed to go? As I remember there isn't even a sign on the PCT marking the boundary!

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PostFri Aug 29, 2014 6:51 am 
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There were several of these signs and I have several more pictures.  It is very obvious from Cispus Pass and beyond that the Yakama Reservation is off limits beyond the trail.  A quick look at your map would clearly define the boundaries.

Please do not jeopardize this short, but beautiful section of the PCT by disrespecting the Yakama Indians and their land.  This section is beautiful, and clearly different from the surrounding areas.
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PostFri Aug 29, 2014 7:19 am 
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NacMacFeegle wrote:
Exactly where do the Yakimas say people aren't supposed to go?

WA Section H, page 15 of Halfmile's PCT maps. 46.382287N, 121.492138W vicinity. The trail is not within the reservation but is very close to it and the lakes are also close to the boundary.

And the Yakama's don't want non-tribal members on the reservation without a permit. It's the whole of the reservation.

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PostFri Aug 29, 2014 7:31 am 
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I checked with another friend who was in the area recently. At Cispus Pass where the photos are taken there is only one sign nailed to the tree. He turned around there so had no information about there being other signs beyond Cispus Pass.
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Malachai Constant
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PostFri Aug 29, 2014 7:50 am 
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Legally when you are on the reservation you are subject to tribal law and you have no other recourse. It is better by far to follow their rules.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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PostFri Aug 29, 2014 8:03 am 
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Chico wrote:
WA Section H, page 15 of Halfmile's PCT maps. 46.382287N, 121.492138W vicinity. The trail is not within the reservation but is very close to it and the lakes are also close to the boundary.

That is not the section in question.  That section does not even follow the border of the reservation.

From Cispus Pass, south to the saddle, roughly between points 6735 and 6512 the PCT goes through the Yakama Reservation and there are signs that say stay on the trail, no trespassing on tribal lands, no hunting and no camping.

Regardless of that, a person planning a trip has the responsibility to know who manages the land that they are on and what its regulations are and if they are even allowed to be there at all.
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