Forum Index > Trip Reports > Diablo  & Ross Lake Westbank Trails to Cougar Island, 03.11-12.20
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KarlK
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 3:02 pm 
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Ross Lake -- it's all mine, I tell you, all mine! --because SR 20 is closed ATP at Colonial Creek (MP 130) instead of the Ross parking lot at MP134 as in previous years.

As such, I hiked the Diablo Lake trail to the suspension bridge at the base of Ross dam, up the service road, across the dam to the Westbank trail, and down the connector from the Pierce Mountain trail to Cougar Island (about 8.6 miles total). Since Ross Lake was down about 75', Cougar Island is disenfranchised from islandhood for the time being, and will remain so until the lake comes up some 25'.

This was my second time on the Westbank trail this winter (went to Green Point  on Feb 20), and it was easier going because so little snow remained. This was all supposed to be part of my training for the Chuckanut 50K on March 21, but that was cancelled on the 12th owing to the pandemic.

Well, there's nobody to give you no stinkin' pandemic at Cougar Island right now, so that's a plus.

I built a Swedish Fire Torch that easily ranks in the top 10% of all of KarlK's fire torches, and believe me, there's some stiff competition.

It was visible from the international space station.

The thing burnt for hours, attracted moths the size of birds (blatent lie? Me lie?), and finally gave up the ghost well after I retired to my Big Agnes tent.

There is some annoying deadfall on the Diablo Lake trail near its conclusion at the Ross suspension bridge, and as a wildnerness sawyer I lingered for a time thinking about a cut plan for a rather complex mess involving an interesting combination of binds and such.

Funny how one's interests evolve over time.

p1
p1
p3
p3
p4
p4
p5
p5
p6
p6
p7
p7
p8.1
p8.1
p9
p9
p8
p8

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Brushbuffalo
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 5:10 pm 
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KarlK wrote:
I retired to my Big Agnes tent.

WHAT? No hammock?

KarlK wrote:
Funny how one's interests evolve over time.

Yes...big walls,  aid climbing, and long runouts 40 years ago.  Big logs and big fires today.

And Big Agnes!

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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KarlK
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 5:25 pm 
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Brushbuffalo: hammock camping just gets too complicated and loses its light weight appeal in cold weather. The hammock compresses the sleeping bag insulation and compensating with an underquilt adds bulk and weight (I have one); those envelopy-things to keep convective heat loss at bay add bulk and weight (I have one). So I gave up on winter hammockeering.

That Big Agnes tent weighs all of 2.5 lbs and the more I use it, the more I like it.

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Brushwork
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PostFri Mar 13, 2020 8:44 pm 
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Nice torch fire!  All you need is a chair!   A good time to be up there.   Any sign of ticks ?

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When I grow up I wanna play.
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KarlK
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PostSat Mar 14, 2020 7:14 am 
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Brushwork -- no ticks were encountered. As to a chair, the picnic table served nicely!

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Karl J Kaiyala
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puzzlr
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PostSat Mar 14, 2020 5:07 pm 
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What's the significance of P8.1 and P9? If that's the blowdown on the trail, I don't see the trail.

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Mid Fork Rocksflickr
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KarlK
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PostSat Mar 14, 2020 5:17 pm 
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The trail is under the blowdown.

Mainly I took those pictures so I could run my sense of a good cut plan by Joe Hofbeck (tricky side bind and other stuff).

My cut plan was el sucko. Joe sent some notes that helped straighten me out.

Picture from this summer on Center Mountain above Chancellor:

Joe & Marty after pivoting log 2
Joe & Marty after pivoting log 2

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Cyclopath
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PostSat Mar 14, 2020 6:13 pm 
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I've gone by Cougar Island too many times to count as always as an island.  Taken the little boat on both sides of the island.  Very cool for me to see your pics and read about the trip.  Thanks for posting!  🙂
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KarlK
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PostSat Mar 14, 2020 6:26 pm 
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Cyclopath -- this is an awesome time of year to go to Ross Lake because it's all peace and quiet and because the lake draw down reveals interesting features and enables hiking to Cougar, 10 Mile and Cat Islands. I think that's a hoot.

It's especially quiet this year because of the road closure at MP 130 instead of MP 134.

The Diablo Lake trail is (in my opinion) much nicer than it gets credit for, and there's a stretch above the gorge that reveals a lot of cool geology -- Brushbuffalo, an expert geologist, used to take people there to show and explain some Skagit Fault geology.

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Slim
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PostSun Mar 15, 2020 10:14 am 
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Thanks for the report.  Most enjoyable.

I hope the geniuses at Seattle City Light don't let too much water spill over the dam this year like they did last year which resulted in the drastically low lake levels.

~Slim

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KarlK
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PostSun Mar 15, 2020 10:29 am 
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Slim -- the snowpack is much better this year. The lake's down about 75 feet ATP and still dropping, so I hope the snowpack's better enough.

Prediction: Covid19 will result in camping restrictions on Ross Lake and many other places.

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Slugman
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PostSun Mar 15, 2020 2:45 pm 
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Hmm, any hike that requires visiting a ranger station for a permit is a likely candidate for a closure. Dang.

I too hope for a full pool at Ross by mid June. Last year was a confluence of issues, from the mandated water releases to help fish, to low snowpack in that area, to a lack of any significant rainfall.

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“The jerking motion of a knee does not reflect the operation of a mind”  Slugman, January 24th 2020
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KarlK
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PostSun Mar 15, 2020 3:02 pm 
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Slugman -- I think your take is exactly right: it's not so much the camping as exposure issues involving park service personnel.

This is going to cascade into trail crew deployment and wildland fire operations and a bunch of other stuff. ATP the National Interagency Coordinating Center (NIFC) contains no mention of C19. For example, big fire camps are problematic in terms of disease spread in regular years.

The data and reports I've been looking at indicates that C19 has an Ro of 2 to 3, meaning that without effective social distancing each carrier infects two to three people.

Doing the math is scary.  The health care system gets slammed and among the consequences is that a lot of people having garden variety acute injury / illness requiring hospitalization won't get it. Not hard to understand what that means.

Gotta flatten the curve.

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Diablo  & Ross Lake Westbank Trails to Cougar Island, 03.11-12.20
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