With the last minute schedule change, Wilderness rules and flood damaged road, we once again had a variety of start times with some early pre-NAB’ers, a main group and several post-NAB’ers. Road 9030 is open although still damaged by the Winter/Spring floods. In several areas, flash floods swept down over the road and carved out (now dry) large channels. Higher clearance vehicles were the preferred means of travel, although one intrepid TNAB’er made it thru the obstacle course in a small sedan!! Excellent driving!!
Heavy clouds filled the sky as we started up the trail. No snow there and for the most part, the trail came thru the Winter in good shape. Couple of minor muddy stretches but nothing significant. Patchy snow on the ground before Talapus Lake became continuous snow as we worked our way along the creek flowing out from Olallie Lake. Very quiet and still surroundings at Olallie. The lake has melted out to perhaps 40% clear water with 18” of snow still on the shoreline.
After a short stop, we left the lake and hiked up the steep hillside to intercept the summer trail wrapping around the ridgeline. On this upper section of trail, the snow is almost completely gone. Several downed trees were minor inconveniences as we followed the trail around to Pratt’s south face. A few momentary views of Talapus, Island and Blazer lakes far beneath us but the swirling clouds quickly covered them up.
Once the trail contoured around to a point directly south of the summit, we headed up the fall line to the summit. A few slick moss covered slabs of rock in the trees and 18” deep snowfields on the upper slopes of Pratt. No wind at the summit but stubborn clouds refused to part except for very brief intervals. A glimpse of the Middle Fork valley to the north, then we headed back down. A short and bumpy glissade down the upper snowfield was enjoyed by a few. Simple hike back down the dark trail to the TH. No problems with the road on the way out to the post TNAB event at the PourHouse.
Worried about the road and wanting an early start, I adopted an alternate approach via the Pratt Lake trail, then up and around Olallie Lake. While the way was easy, the extra distance and abundant picture breaks meant no summit for me. However, I did enjoy 10 miles of very lovely solitude.
Pratt Lake trail was clear of snow to the Talapus Lake junction. I veered into the Olallie drainage toward Talapus Lake thinking to cross the Olallie Lake outflow and maybe hook-up with the group, but the creek was high, the valley spooky, and my ears cold, so I beat a retreat back to the trail and proceeded around the lake.
Continuous snow started about 200 yards up the trail, and I nearly turned around thinking it would be the same from there on. Luckily, whilst contemplating my next move, a very friendly hiker named Don came down the trail from the direction of Pratt Lake and told me the snow stopped not far beyond the sketchy crossing of the Olallie Lake inflow. Don had spent half the day hiking over to Pratt Lake and Lower Tuscohatchie Lake and reported both as ice free. We spent some time looking at his map, comparing experiences, which I enjoyed very much. Turns out Don's a lurker here on NWHikers, so I urged him to write up his trip. Hope he does.
Anyhow, after surviving the collapsing snow bridges, tree wells, and 12' berms into and out of the creek filling Olallie Lake, I found that the snow did indeed disappear, mostly, after another couple hundred yards. The trip around the lake on the ridge was beautiful, trouble free, and relatively quick. I soon crossed the blaze where TNAB gained the upper trail, then continued around to the south side of Pratt Mountain, just short of where TNAB turned up the slope, grabbed a bite, made a wardrobe change, and headed back about 8PM.
Good to see everyone again, even if only at the Pour House!
TNAB hounds have TNAB sherpas (though we like to think we are their 'owners') to shuttle their water, treats, leashes, first aid kits and post digestion movements to and from the mountains. Tough life to be a dog
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