Forum Index > Trip Reports > Backdoor Tatoosh Buttes, via BC Pasayten R. Sept. 29-Oct. 3
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D. Inscho
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Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 946 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellingham,WA
D. Inscho
Not bored yet...
PostTue Oct 05, 2010 7:52 pm 
I visited Tatoosh 11 years ago and was not thrilled with the miles of horse-pounded tread in the Pasayten River valley.  But the spectacular nature of the destination remained in my memory.  So with a bit of research I schemed this route, allowing a single day approach, some travel on abandoned historical trails, and a bit of heedless illegal entry.  It had been on my list for a couple of years, but it seemed perfect for the weather window we received.

My commute to the TH just east of Manning took 3.25 hours (no wait at border).  I suppose it is fitting that one has to poke around to find the unmarked trail heading south to the Parson Smith tree (removed years ago and reportedly on display at Early Winters) site.
Bodhran & trail to Parson Smith tree
Bodhran & trail to Parson Smith tree

I immediately began to appreciate the scope of the fire that ravaged the area (watched from Jerry Lakes in 2006).  Not much green left for squares of miles.
Trail into US
Trail into US

The 2 miles to the border are entirely in burned over forest.  The trail is crude
Trail marker
Trail marker

but mostly logged out.   I passed the 6m border swath
Don't do it!
Don't do it!

and obelisk #85
Obelisk #85
Obelisk #85

without ceremony and continued onward to my wilderness date with Tatoosh.  I will admit to having a fugitive-like scare when hearing a Border Patrol helicopter within 15 minutes of re-entering the country.  I was in the open, no forest cover left.  But it was not for me and sped east on the border line.  Relief!

This US section (#461) has been tagged with red tape
US trail markers, Pasayten R.
US trail markers, Pasayten R.

and remains quite level
for the 2 miles to the former bridge site, connecting with the border trail #533.  The bridge is a charred memory.  I crossed near the former cabin site where the river is much shallower.

Pasayten River Moment from David Inscho on Vimeo.
No sign of the cabin but think I found the old privy.
USFS "Pasayten cabin" privy
USFS "Pasayten cabin" privy

At about .5 mile from the river, Bodhran (ever steadfast) and I picked up the faint track heading up Ptarmigan Ridge.

Now, I have travelled both burned-over trails, and long-forgotten trails, but not in combination; consider me now educated.  Things were fine up to 4700’; I could discern the track with little difficulty.  But from there to 5500’ it became a ghost of a trail in a jungle of downed timber, scrub trees, & annual growth.
The Carbon Forest "trail"
The Carbon Forest "trail"

Really, it was an imaginary friend more than anything.  When I found that friend I clung to him desperately, because as marginal as that trail was, it much better than clamoring fecklessly through, as it will henceforth be called, The Carbon Forest.  I will add here that the trail represented on USGS is only a rough approximation.

On a lighter note, fireweed has ripened and the seed fuzz was ready to fly; it was fortuitous that sweaty hiker-guy was passing through to foster propagation; I looked like a chicken-plucker for half the climb.

Conditions improved on the upper section of the ridge, as well as my ability to detect “trail” versus “not trail”.  So after 9 hours of toil,
Salt, blood, & charcoal
Salt, blood, & charcoal

Bodhran & I arrived at expansive golden grassy meadows,
Arrival!
Arrival!

with a feast of Pasayten peaks all around.
SW view
SW view
Tatoosh meadows
Tatoosh meadows

The spring from my prior visit was dry, but I found a better one another mile or so further at the 7000’ level.  It had a rocky bottom, about 4 inches deep, and good year-round flow(saw caddis fly larvae).
Precious water supply
Precious water supply

No need for filtering.   We had 4 nights to enjoy Tatoosh and commenced that project not long after unpacking.
Tatoosh meadows, Ptarmigan Peak & Mt. Lago in distance
Tatoosh meadows, Ptarmigan Peak & Mt. Lago in distance
Blue & Gold
Blue & Gold
Looking west
Looking west

Nights were spent staring upward into the cosmos,
Galactic blaze & burned trees
Galactic blaze & burned trees
Pleiades & Taurus
Pleiades & Taurus

and days wandering the Buttes,
Contrast
Contrast
Tatoosh Buttes- Castle Peak on left, Mt. Winthrop middle, and The Parks on right (thin strip of meadow on horizon)
Tatoosh Buttes- Castle Peak on left, Mt. Winthrop middle, and The Parks on right (thin strip of meadow on horizon)

Tamarack Ridge, and Ptarmigan Peak (12th entry for the year).
Ptarmigan ridge
Ptarmigan ridge
Mt. Carru from Ptarmigan
Mt. Carru from Ptarmigan
Jack, Crater, & Kulshan
Jack, Crater, & Kulshan
Jack's close-up
Jack's close-up
Tamarack Ridge & Tatoosh Buttes from Ptarmigan
Tamarack Ridge & Tatoosh Buttes from Ptarmigan

I also checked out tarn 7064’ north of Tamarack R.
It was shallow, but picturesque with alpine larch in their prime.
Torch
Torch
Museum wood
Museum wood

It was also a good chance for a sorely needed cleansing plunge (to rinse off salt, charcoal, & blood).   The highs were consistently around 63, and lows ranging from 28-40f.
Needle jam
Needle jam

There were fabulous camps north of Ptarmigan Peak at the headwaters of Tamarack creek (Larch groves & reliable water).
Larch & moon
Larch & moon

On the second night I was awakened at twilight by coyotes nearby, of course Bodhran was already out of his sleeping bag sitting at my side, sniffing intently.  They were within 50m, barking, yelping, woofing, & howling, both north and south of our bivy.  They eventually consolidated downwind, and then dispersed.   I think they were calling Bodhran a wuss for eating fancy food, & needing a bag to stay warm.  He seemed to get over it by breakfast.
Bodhran in camp
Bodhran in camp
Going to seed...
Going to seed...

Stratus started blowing in at daybreak on Sunday, but I had already feasted at the all-you-can-eat buffet of Quiet,
Last quarter moon
Last quarter moon

mulled the map connecting the Wilderness dots,
Where next?
Where next?

and contemplated my place in this N. Cascade sea of mountains- Eight-thousand foot breakers of tawny grass.
8000' breakers of tawny grass
8000' breakers of tawny grass

It was time to pack and go, back into the dreaded Carbon Forest.
Fire season
Fire season

But on the return I was stronger, lighter, and more disciplined at maintaining the track; it went better, only 7 hours to the truck.

The whole heedless border thing really took a back seat to the toil and route-finding effort.  I guess that is fitting; it really should be about the landscape, not arbitrary boundaries(49th parallel).  Trip stats: 13 miles & 3900’ gain.

Tatoosh Buttes Slideshow from David Inscho on Vimeo.

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http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

The key to a successful trip is to do the planning during work hours.       --  John Muir

“My most memorable hikes can be classified as 'Shortcuts that Backfired'.” --Ed Abbey
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lopper
off-route



Joined: 22 Jan 2002
Posts: 827 | TRs | Pics
lopper
off-route
PostTue Oct 05, 2010 8:37 pm 
Marvelous trip!  Well reported.  Thanks for posting it.

I was scoping out the Monument 83 Trail from highway 3 in May.  Some of the attractions of the northern Pasayten are tempting from that direction.

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Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer



Joined: 02 Mar 2003
Posts: 10958 | TRs | Pics
Location: Going to Tukwila
Dayhike Mike
Bad MFKer
PostTue Oct 05, 2010 9:17 pm 
D. Inscho wrote:
Ptarmigan ridge
Ptarmigan ridge
8000' breakers of tawny grass
8000' breakers of tawny grass

Wow... Gorgeous country... Thanks for posting!  up.gif  up.gif

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"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
"Ignorance is natural. Stupidity takes commitment." -Solomon Short
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Quark
Niece of Alvy Moore



Joined: 15 May 2003
Posts: 14151 | TRs | Pics
Quark
Niece of Alvy Moore
PostTue Oct 05, 2010 9:40 pm 
Helluva'n interesting trip report! Thanks for posting this, Herr Chicken-plucker lol.gif

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"...Other than that, the post was more or less accurate."

Bernardo, NW Hikers' Bureau Chief of Reporting
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Magellan
Brutally Handsome



Joined: 26 Jul 2006
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Location: Inexorable descent
Magellan
Brutally Handsome
PostTue Oct 05, 2010 10:13 pm 
Really interesting country D.  Thanks for the pictures too.  up.gif

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D. Inscho
Not bored yet...



Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 946 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellingham,WA
D. Inscho
Not bored yet...
PostWed Oct 06, 2010 8:38 pm 
Thanks for the replies.  I think there is a lot of potential.  This is the 3rd backdoor access point to the Pasayten I've tried.  Lots of good stuff up in that northern sector, and single day access!  I'd do all of them again.

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http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

The key to a successful trip is to do the planning during work hours.       --  John Muir

“My most memorable hikes can be classified as 'Shortcuts that Backfired'.” --Ed Abbey
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tmatlack
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Joined: 21 Aug 2007
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tmatlack
Member
PostThu Oct 07, 2010 2:33 am 
D.,

Awesome trip.  Great photos.  Good lookin' friend you got there.

Tom

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bdrkayaker
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Joined: 17 Oct 2009
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bdrkayaker
Member
PostThu Oct 07, 2010 5:58 am 
Eight-thousand foot breakers of tawny grass.
8000' breakers of tawny grass
8000' breakers of tawny grass

Awesome pictures and nice report!  What a beautiful place.  Love the grass/larch/sky color kaleidoscope. up.gif

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Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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D. Inscho
Not bored yet...



Joined: 28 Feb 2010
Posts: 946 | TRs | Pics
Location: Bellingham,WA
D. Inscho
Not bored yet...
PostSat Oct 09, 2010 4:05 pm 
tmatlack wrote:
D.,

Awesome trip.  Great photos.  Good lookin' friend you got there. 

Tom

He was, quite simply, amazing on this trip.  His pack was nearly twice as heavy as usual.  But as we clamored over jumbles of charred timber and thrashed through head-high brush, he would be right behind me without protest.  Plus he keeps his cool around bears & other wildlife.

--------------
http://david-inscho.smugmug.com/

The key to a successful trip is to do the planning during work hours.       --  John Muir

“My most memorable hikes can be classified as 'Shortcuts that Backfired'.” --Ed Abbey
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Backdoor Tatoosh Buttes, via BC Pasayten R. Sept. 29-Oct. 3
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