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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1478 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
seeking tailwind
PostSun Aug 23, 2009 10:31 pm 
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After our warmup hike of Mt. Rainier's Northern Loop Trail, my 14 year-old daughter and I were trying to decide where to go for our last hike of her summer, as she started High School swim team the following week. We finally decided on the Goat Rocks as I have never been there and it was time to get away from my usual stomping grounds of Mt. Rainier. It took 2 days for our legs to settle down after blasting them on the NLT but the weather forecast was not looking good for a Thursday (Aug 13) departure. We were ready for some decent weather so we delayed our departure until Friday the 14th as the weather forecast was predicting clearing skies and warmer climes. When we arrived at White Pass I ran into a hiker washing his socks at the Kracker Barrel and he reported that he got dumped on the last 3 days and never saw anything. In another departure from our usual modus operandi we had no definite plans except to be out by Sunday night so we set off from White Pass and headed south with McCall Basin in mind as a possible overnight spot, about 13 miles in.
ski area construction.jpg
ski area construction.jpg
wilderness destruction.jpg
wilderness destruction.jpg
wilderness destruction2.jpg
wilderness destruction2.jpg
call 509-653-1446.jpg
call 509-653-1446.jpg

One of the things we really noticed about the PCT was the easy grade. The misty skies and complete lack of bugs, plus no overhanging wet brush on the trail made this first day's hike a complete pleasure. We knew that what we missed in views as we  got higher we would probably get to see on the return leg. Traffic on the trail was robust with many hikers heading north. Water is scarce for about a 10 mile stretch so we were glad we drank profusely at an earlier creek and that I was packing 2 liters of Propel. I was surprised to see what looked like a logging spree but was in fact construction of a new lift line and trails, an apparent extension of the White Pass ski area. When we came upon the offshoot trail to McCall basin we decided to camp there for the evening, another departure for us since we usually arrive at our camp spots in the dark. We were able to set up our solo tents and have an evening meal overlooking the glacier before it was even dark!
sign.jpg
sign.jpg

Day 2 was a sleep in day as we got up at 8 and on the trail by 9, and we awoke to absolutely clear skies. Then, shortly south on the PCT, we came across an enticing camp spot so we decided to set up our tents there and drop our sleeping bags, head south until an appropriate time to come back to our already established campsite. The easy grade on this section gives way to some steeper trail and we kept stopping to take video and pictures and enjoy the views opening up around us. There were a few sections, mostly near water, that were still aflame with color from the flowers. We noticed a heavily laden group of 3 make camp in a high meadow when we were taking a break, then as we ascended toward Elk Pass my daughter found a tent on the side of the trail. I assumed it belonged to the meadow campers so I dropped my pack and ran down the trail to deliver it to them. Huffing back up to regain my lost altitude we continued to the slightly bizarre sign at Elk Pass. By this time the clouds were starting to roll over the ridge but we continued on for another half mile until it was apparent that the skies were not going to get clearer. We decided to turn around and head back down to our site amidst blowing  clouds whipping over the ridge line. One can easily imagine why people have gotten into trouble on this section in bad weather as there are few escapes from the wind blown weather on this part of the trail. We arrived back at our camp site about 5 PM and did silly things to entertain ourselves until bedtime after we cooked up dinner.
Cassie above Elk Pass.jpg
Cassie above Elk Pass.jpg
Against the wind.jpg
Against the wind.jpg
Shoe Lake.jpg
Shoe Lake.jpg
Elk Pass.jpg
Elk Pass.jpg
one10.jpg
one10.jpg

The great outdoors never ceases to throw different things at us and at about 3 AM we both awoke to a nasally foghorn blast right outside the tents. After another blast I concluded that it was an elk, very close, that honked a few times and finally left. I have heard quite a few bull elk bugles which led me to conclude that the depth and quality of the honk came from this very large animal. However, I must admit I didn't leap out of my tent with camera in hand to see if I could film it even if my daughter was expecting me to.

Day 3 was clear and we sauntered back to White Pass under clear skies but a return of the bugs. Another departure for us was coexisting with stock and dogs and we found ourselves stepping around steaming piles and clearing the trail for the larger beasts. I was quite impressed that one rider was bareback, that has to be one heck of a workout and we enjoyed exchanging pleasantries with him on the trail. Departing White Pass at 4:30 PM allowed us to eat a nice dinner in Packwood, stop for a mocha and hot chocolate in Puyallup, and still be home for a normal bedtime. Goat Rocks is a spectacular area and we plan to return to finish the ridge line when we can enjoy the view. Total trip miles for us was @35, and any elevation we gained or lost was easy compared to our earlier Northern Loop Trail hike.
riot of colors in Goat Rocks.jpg
riot of colors in Goat Rocks.jpg
Rainier from Goat Rocks.jpg
Rainier from Goat Rocks.jpg
mosquito-
mosquito-
views galore.jpg
views galore.jpg
green is good.jpg
green is good.jpg
Timber.jpg
Timber.jpg
Mirror.jpg
Mirror.jpg
losers and winners.jpg
losers and winners.jpg
lines outside Packwood.jpg
lines outside Packwood.jpg
steaming pile.jpg
steaming pile.jpg
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Tag Man
side hiller



Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 600 | TRs
Location: Where the roots all twist...
Tag Man
side hiller
PostMon Aug 24, 2009 12:20 pm 
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We must have passed you guys on our Goat Rocks thru-hike that weekend. We started to cross that knife ridge between Elk Pass and Old Snowy right when the clouds started to blow over on the 15th. We camped at McCall Basin that night. Did you guys have 2 identical grey tents set up off the PCT just above McCall Basin?

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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1478 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
seeking tailwind
PostMon Aug 24, 2009 2:46 pm 
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That was us! Which party were you? (how many, and did we speak?)
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Tag Man
side hiller



Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 600 | TRs
Location: Where the roots all twist...
Tag Man
side hiller
PostMon Aug 24, 2009 8:51 pm 
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There were 3 of us. It must have been some time around 6:00 pm. I think you were already under your tarps so we were kind of quite when we went by not wanting to disturb you. My trip report is here.

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williswall
seeking tailwind



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 1478 | TRs
Location: Bellevue, WA
williswall
seeking tailwind
PostMon Aug 24, 2009 9:51 pm 
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I remember you passing. We had just plopped into the tents to warm up before emerging to make dinner. According to your trip report, if we had stayed on the ridge for maybe 30 minutes longer, we would have run into you coming from the south. At least you confirmed that we weren't missing any views by continuing on the ridge. We had thought about looping around Waptus Lake on this hike before returning to White Pass but that would have added another day, and lengthened the other 3 somewhat.

I enjoyed your trip report!
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Tag Man
side hiller



Joined: 20 May 2008
Posts: 600 | TRs
Location: Where the roots all twist...
Tag Man
side hiller
PostTue Aug 25, 2009 7:50 am 
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Thanks! Wish we could have met on the trail. Its pretty cool though to recognize each other by our trip reports. Maybe we will almost bump into each other on the trail again sometime.

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