Forum Index

Trail Talk

Partners

Trip Reports
 

Stewardship
/History 

Gear
/Food/Photo

Support
/Links 

Saloon
/Trade 
Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Portal Peak, Red Pass, White Pass via N Fork Sauk Jul 10-12
Previous :: Next Topic  
Author Message
scott&lucy
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Mar 2007
Posts: 19 | TRs | Pics

Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:56 pm    Portal Peak, Red Pass, White Pass via N Fork Sauk Jul 10-12
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

I had the day off so you get good photos and an essay trip report!

Well we were supposed to do a loop backpack from Sloan Creek CG up the North Fork Sauk to the PCT, along to Kodak Peak, then back along Pilot Ridge, however my buddy Mr A felt too weak as we ascended towards White Pass, so we re-planned things on the fly...

We left Seattle around 3pm on Friday after a mishap involving a GPS & a car roof... Got to the TH around 6pm & started up the trail. We checked the crossing over the N Fork Sauk to the Johnson Ridge trail: I say there's no problem at all--plenty of big easy logs to cross, Mr A's not quite so sure of my judgment, but agrees he may be able to make it across, somehow. Sorry, no picture taken.

We continue up the trail which is nice up & down through old growth till roughly Red Creek. There the old growth seems to disappear & the forest becomes creepy dark, thick second growth. The big news is that there is an awesome trail crew camped out at Red Creek for the next week who are brushing out the trail, and constructing a new portion that must be almost a ½ mile long around a washed out area between Red Creek & the Mackinaw Shelter. The Red Creek crossing isn't bad for me (some nice logs just upstream of the trail), Mr A isn't so sure but makes it across...eventually =)

We arrived at Mackinaw around 9pm and decided enough was enough for the night, so we camped in the creepy dark trees. There aren't a whole load of good flat spots around there, but the open air toilet is a nice perk.

Up the next morning, and again our judgment of trail conditions differed. It just shows how weak Mr A was as we're usually pretty level in ability. Anyway, I think the trail from Mackinaw to the PCT is fairly easy & a well graded trail; it sure doesn't seem like it gains 3000' in under 3 miles--with all the switchbacks I bet its more like 4. Other than the one big avalanche field which you can avoid by heading straight up to the next switchback, the trail's in fairly good shape. Not too much water until you hit the PCT though, dog owners beware.


At about 5200' you break out of the trees for good (before that it's alternating between forest & avalanche runout) and head through meadows full of wildflowers that are spectacular right now. The final ½ mile before the PCT, and the PCT itself are especially awesome, especially on a day as crystal clear as it was for us on Saturday.

We made it to White Pass where there was one lonely tent--probably a party climbing Glacier?--and stopped for lunch, water, and to regroup. The flies were being bothersome but not much else, and after studying the map Mr A decided our plan to get to Kodak Peak that afternoon wasn't going to happen. Mainly because of the long hike out over Pilot Ridge the next day.

We decided to backtrack along the ridge & camp at Red Pass. The PCT was floriferous and beautiful and we soon arrived at Red Pass. Because of the snow, there was nowhere to camp except at the pass itself, and there was a cryptic sign lying on the ground at the best campsite that said "Please Camp Elsewhere". Okay, we didn't take the best site but still plonked our tents down at the pass and got ready to feast on the awesome view that evening.

Plenty of water to the south & north of the pass, so after filtering enough water for the rest of the day, Mr A decided to take it easy and held on to Lucy, who really wanted to go with me, while I scrambled up Portal Peak.


It was an easy scramble up steep heather slopes to a small cornice of snow at the top. According to the summit register I was the first ascendant of 2009. The views are awesome! Especially on such a clear day. The Stuart range was visible in the SE, and Baker to the NW, and all the closer peaks too--with Glacier right across the valley. I didn't want to leave, but Mr A & Lucy were waiting down below, so after 45 minutes I went back down for a little single malt before dinner.


After dinner we enjoyed an incredible sunset & a lightning show over Sloan & Monte Cristo, and finally turned in. A nice breeze kept the bugs away all evening, but it turned into a raging gale that night. A few showers (maybe hail?) too, but everything was dry in the morning as we packed up and got ready to go. Then Mr A's sleeping bag decided to roll off into the abyss. He went down & looked for it, but it's now in retirement somewhere west of Red Pass. At least the pack was lighter coming home!

Drizzle started so we hoofed it & made it back to Mackinaw in 90 minutes, after seeing a couple doing the "old" PCT from Stevens Pass to the N Cascades--the first humans we had seen since the work party! I hope they were able to cross the White Chuck & the Suiattle. A quick lunch by the N Fork Sauk where it has washed out the trail, and then we headed back to the car. Slow going at the end, but Mr A made it and will be right as rain for our next adventure.

Code:
5500' gain
20.5 mi
2 days
Trails mud & snow free
Some bugs but not annoying
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Visit poster's website
Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
Posts: 12302 | TRs | Pics
Location: Inexorable descent
Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:32 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Totally sweet!  up.gif  up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
ericrjensen
Member
Member


Joined: 12 Oct 2008
Posts: 58 | TRs | Pics

Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:40 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Wow this looks INCREDIBLE!  eek.gif  I am not pressed to respond to trip reports often but these pictures are outstanding, and I haven't even read the content yet!  winksmile.gif

Nice job and thanks for posting on an unfamiliar area (at least to me)
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Alpine Balding
Member
Member


Joined: 09 Feb 2008
Posts: 58 | TRs | Pics
Location: Snohomish,Wa
Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:54 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Very nice .I plan on backpacking that loop Labor day weekend ,with a side trip to Red pass and mabye cinder cone if time and energy permits

P.S. Those giant trees are amazing
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
Justus S.
Member
Member


Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 1019 | TRs | Pics
Location: WA
Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:25 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Up there by white & red passes is just beautiful. Thanks for sharing
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message
David¹
Mr. 3000



Joined: 25 Jul 2002
Posts: 2999 | TRs | Pics
Location: The Great White North
Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:45 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

How apropos.

Surprising lack of snow up there.

Thanks for the report.

--------------
Warning! Posts may contain traces of sarcasm.

Hiking Website: http://members.shaw.ca/karenanddavid/Index.htm
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Flora
Enjoying the Sun!



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1035 | TRs | Pics
Location: Land of many waters
Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:20 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Beautiful area.  Brings back a few old memories.  Thanks.

--------------
Flora
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
Posts: 4495 | TRs | Pics
Location: Stuck in the middle
Post Mon Jul 13, 2009 8:36 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

scott&lucy wrote:

Great campsite and photo  up.gif
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Foist
Sultan of Sweat



Joined: 08 May 2006
Posts: 2789 | TRs | Pics
Location: Back!
Post Tue Jul 14, 2009 9:11 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Gorgeous.
I was planning on going to that area at the very beginning of September.  I'm also surprised by how little snow is up there already.  Do you think there will still be water at the White Pass campsites by then?  I know it's hard to tell these things...
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website
Kim Brown
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Posts: 2981 | TRs | Pics

Post Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:08 am   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Foist –

I’ve been there in mid-September before, and found water tumbling across the PCT right before White Pass (if you’re coming from N Fk Sauk).  Load up before descending to the campsites. (I've never been able to find the water source down there - I've heard about it, but have always had the place to myself with no one to show me)

It's the only campground that's completely void of rocks.  Think about that when you're there.  There aren't any rocks laying around.  It's wierd.  So if you need rocks, get those from the PCT, too.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
scott&lucy
Member
Member


Joined: 13 Mar 2007
Posts: 19 | TRs | Pics

Post Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:52 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

Thanks for the compliments. It's almost hard to not take good pictures with the awesome weather that we had, but it was also nice to be able to sit & chill for hours (and snap photos) rather than putting the miles on. If only I had 5 day weekends!

@Foist: There was a lot less snow than I thought there would be--I should have left my ice axe at home... But then if you think about it all the slopes we were on were south facing so it makes sense. There's still a lot of snow in the White Chuck & White River valleys so I think you'll find some water at White Pass, even if you have to descend into the valley a little bit to get it. I was mainly worried about snow on the high route to Blue Lake, and around Dishpan Gap--I don't know if I've ever seen Dishpan Gap without snow, but I guess I'm usually in that area fairly early in the season.

@Balding: You should be able to do that over Labor Day weekend no problem if you do what we did & get as far as Mackinaw on Friday evening. That'll let you set up camp at White Pass on Saturday (or just hide your packs somewhere at the PCT Junction) and get out to Cinder Cone as a day trip, and then still give you Sunday & Monday to get to Blue Lake & Pilot Ridge. The PCT is so easy to hike on--even though that portion that hasn't been maintained to PCT standards in a few years. If you go to Cinder Cone I'd recommend trying to go back cross country via Portal; the views are outstanding.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Visit poster's website
Go Jo
of the lykkens



Joined: 08 Jun 2003
Posts: 2456 | TRs | Pics
Location: Around The Bend
Post Tue Jul 14, 2009 5:59 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

scott&lucy wrote:


I love it when weather collides for an interesting shot. Great TR ~Jo
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message
Pepper
Member
Member


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 80 | TRs | Pics
Location: Ballard
Post Mon Jul 20, 2009 6:48 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

thanks for the TR and photos I will be up that way this weekend.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message
bonobo
Being here now



Joined: 23 Jun 2004
Posts: 804 | TRs | Pics

Post Tue Jul 21, 2009 6:36 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

I think with the hot weather we're having, our hike this weekend is going to be to Red Creek. Sounds like a nice stretch of trail to spend a hot day on.  Is the road the road is repaired all the way to the trailhead?  FS website says so, but you know how that goes....


Thanks for a great TR!  I can't wait to hit this one.
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message Send e-mail
Vertical Smile
Member
Member


Joined: 21 Jul 2009
Posts: 27 | TRs | Pics
Location: Great Northwest
Post Tue Jul 21, 2009 7:06 pm   
 Reply to topic Reply with quote

SWEET trip. Looks like you have a good hiking partner there. (dog)
I want to do that loop this summer. up.gif

--------------
Re-duce,
Re-use and
Recycle
Back to top
View user's profile Search for posts by this user Send private message
  
Display:     All times are GMT - 8 Hours 
 Post new topic Reply to topic
Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Portal Peak, Red Pass, White Pass via N Fork Sauk Jul 10-12 1, 2  Next 
  Happy Birthday Cyclopath!
 
Jump to:   
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
Search this topic: 


   Use Disclaimer Powered by phpBB © phpBB Group
Privacy Policy