Pics and quick summary at bottom if you can't make it through the story. I was solo, so now I get to talk it up here. At least two of the pics are worthwhile in my opinion.
After scheduling and planning about 10 different destination alternatives for my November hike I ended up on a trail that I had never even heard of.
When I left the house this morning I was headed for Wallace Falls. As I traveled down the slightly moist I-5 corridor I started thinking about Pilchuck. Wouldn't it be nice for a little hike in the snow to a lookout? Maybe the clouds were low enough that I'd have views over them. Yes... that sounds nice. I'll do Wallace Falls if conditions are nasty at Pilchuck.
Verlot Ranger Station
Hey, I think this place is open. It couldn't hurt to inquire about road and trail conditions before I venture onward.
The friendly and informative rangers coaxed me out of Pilchuck. More snow than I expected and I don't have the studs on the car yet. Almost guaranteed no views today... don't miss the turn at the boulder field.
Ok... Wallace Falls it is.
Wait... what's that? Perry Creek Trail? Huh. Sounds interesting.
A one mile dirt road followed by a two mile trail to the falls with some snow? What the heck... I'm already here.
I leave a note in the Climbers Register at the Verlot Ranger station since my cell phone is 'searching for service' with hopes somebody will find it if I don't make it home tonight, jump in the car and head on out the Mtn Loop Highway.
As promised by the rangers, as soon as I reached Silverton the snow starts. Road is only slightly slushy in spots, but I can feel it. My next trail car needs AWD at least. Finally I reach the Perry Creek Road trail (across from Big 4 picnic area) and turn in.
I've never been nervous driving in snow... but usually I'm well equipped with studs and chains in the trunk. Not today. I navigate two or three turns and then start spinning the wheels in mud and snow. No where to turn around... it's snowing... the road is only a mile... I'm alone...
The car goes in reverse and I back down the road all the way to the highway.
I Drive down a ways, park at Big 4 (gates locked), pack up and head back to the Perry Creek road... Biped style.
The trail itself is only two miles and I really don't have much else to do today. A road walk wont kill me and you just never know what you'll find along the way.
It was a rather uneventful hike all in all. Hiked up the road, decided that I certainly would have made it to the TH in the car if I had persisted, but what's done is done and I don't need to worry about driving back down if the snow piles up.
When I reached the trailhead, there was one vehicle parked there. This was a vehicle I saw pass by me on the Mtn Loop just as I started my trek from Big 4. They left their snowshoes in plain sight in the back of their miniSUV - they probably should have taken those with them.
There was minimal snow heading up the road and at the TH. Once out of the trees and into the Talus fields, the snow started to deepen. 3-4 inches only for most of the hike... but it was probably up to 12" by the time I reached the falls. My Lowa's and gators kept my feet 100% dry and warm.
By the time the snow became more than ankle deep, I was appreciative that I wasn't the one breaking the trail. I was much more comfortable following the party ahead of me and chances are that I wouldn't have reached the falls without their footprints. Without my usual trip planning for this trail I was mapless and oblivious to the surrounding terrain - relying on the promise of the Verlot Rangers that the trail itself is safe with this amount of snow.
Finally, just as I was ready to break for lunch, the trail re-entered a forested area and viola! there were the falls. I started to get settled and noticed the party ahead of me was about 100 yards further up the trail just getting ready to proceed onward (to Mt. Forgotten Meadows I assume).
I began to chase after them to thank them for breaking trail for me and to see if it was any of YOU. Unfortunately, it seems the trail quickly deteriorated with logs or rocks or something and I couldn't make enough progress (plus, I was tired!) and then my pole collapsed. Ugh. I gave up and returned to the falls. Took some pics and had some lunch then started the return trip.
The return was uneventful (but I did find a nice little photogenic waterfall) and went significantly faster than the ascent.
Back ar the car I decided to check out Big 4 area. Rangers informed me the bridge was wiped out in the recent floods and they aren't sure if it will be able to be replaced in time for next summers' tourists. Well - I'd better go check that out. So, I did... but the start of the boardwalk just prior to the bridge is gated and marked with yellow Police tape. I'll cross construction tape... but not police tape. Not in THIS neighborhood. Sorry.
Hopped in the car, stopped at Verlot to give them a trail condition report, had a warm sandwich and Fat Tire at Alfy's in Burlington and then home to the family.
It was a nice trip for the day. Honestly, I guess I could have been more wet but I stayed warm and comfortable.
2 miles from TH to Perry Creek Falls
1 mile to TH from Mountain Loop Highway
No river crossing access to Big 4 Ice caves
Snow along Mtn Loop starts at Silverton.
There always seemed to be some precipitation: rain, snow, snow bombs or branch drips. Clouds were thick the entire trip.
Mtn Loop Hwy at Big 4 Picnic Area:
Mountain Loop Highway at Big 4 11-11-06
View from Trail (is this the side of Dickerman?)
Perry Creek Falls Pics (there is a lot more to the falls but you can't see the 85 foot drop from the trail unfortunately):
Gold Leaf on Trail:
Leaf on snow
Letting the other party know someone else was here:
This guy was sitting on the snow... frozen I guess:
Perry Creek Drainage
View from Mtn Loop Hwy:
View from Big 4 Boardwalk:
Reflection from Big 4
Another of my identifying marks:
My boot tread
I'm looking forward to using snowshoes on my next outing!
-------------- "Ill habits gather unseen degrees, as brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas." ~John Dryden
My Trip List
Warning: If the reason to get an AWD is to get thru the snow then what you really want is a 4WD with a LOCKING DIFFERENTIAL. Otherwise you'll just have 3 wheels spinning while the one wheel with traction just sits.
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