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woodchips
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PostSun May 03, 2020 8:56 am 
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We're looking at getting out kids out on a multi day backpack trip this summer, and considering Lime Ridge.  Kids are 7 and 9, and pretty experienced in off trail travel and scrambling, and comfortable doing long days.

I'm looking for current information on the crossing of the Suiattle (are there any good logs this year?) and the pipeline trail.  Feel free to PM me if you'd prefer.  Thanks!
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Mike Collins
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PostSun May 03, 2020 11:01 am 
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Is the bridge mentioned in this report still available? https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/tripreport-2002082101
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Kim Brown
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PostSun May 03, 2020 11:16 am 
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That bridge has been gone since '03.

The crossing, if there is one this year, may be fine one day and inundated with runoff the next.  John Roper has a story about crossing it on his way in, and it being too close for comfort for his then-fiancée on the way out, so they waited until the next morning to cross (even after that, she married him).

Years ago, there was a good tree to cross - so good that even I walked it (I'm a total wuss about log crossings), but by the next weekend, Slugman reported it inundated with runoff.

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woodchips
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PostSun May 03, 2020 11:16 am 
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It looks like the bridges over the river and Milk Creek were wiped out in ‘03 (a year after this TR) and haven’t been replaced.

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7978908
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woodchips
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PostSun May 03, 2020 11:20 am 
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Thanks, Kim! I hear you on the flow variability - this would definitely be a consideration, especially with kids in tow. This year has a lot of snow in the high country, which may push us later into the year (I’ve had good luck with river crossings like this in Sept/Oct, cooler days, and early mornings.)

Might be time for a scouting trip one of these days!

Any insight on how hard it is to follow the trail these days?
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reststep
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PostSun May 03, 2020 12:08 pm 
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I guess you could always try going to Lime Ridge by the route in the below linked trip report by Matt. It sounds like an interesting way to get there.

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8007170

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skiorkayak
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PostSun May 03, 2020 4:26 pm 
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Went in Labor Day 2018. Brought an inflatable kayak to assist in the crossing, but didn’t need it. Crossed right at the old bridge (some crossed a little upstream and some a little downstream) and was just over knee deep (Went in Labor Day a few years before and would not have made the crossing without the kayak).

The old “pipeline” was not too hard to follow. Hardest part is finding it in first place. Lost it a couple times after that, but all ways found it with a little scouting. The “trails” between the lakes are usually obvious. The “pipeline” is very steep and seems much longer than it is. That said, we had a 10 year old with us that did just fine (his dad carried most of his stuff).

Side notes:
encountered a couple wasp nests on the “pipeline”. Several got stung, one multiple times. They nest in the ground and you will not see them.

Go late August-early September and the “blue” berries up there are amazing.

Bring a fishing pole.
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rossb
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PostSun May 03, 2020 5:33 pm 
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reststep wrote:
I guess you could always try going to Lime Ridge by the route in the below linked trip report by Matt. It sounds like an interesting way to get there.

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8007170

I would definitely go that way. I've never been to Lime Ridge/Lakes (I tried, but failed, long ago) but I have nibbled around the edges. The Crystal Lake/Meadow Lake route is a fairly straightforward way to get into some spectacular country. By the second day, you are coasting. I would probably just come out that way as well. I've crossed the Suiattle close to the old bridge and it wasn't that bad. But getting to it was nasty. Most of the folks who hike on the old Milk Creek trail go up it, not down. We did the opposite and once we got to the old bridge (the end of the old trail) it was rough and nasty. No path, just pure bushwhacking through low elevation old growth timber. Maybe it is easier going up, but I would take the other way, just because it is so much more straightforward. The first day is kinda ugly (lots of second growth) but by the second day, you are all alone in heavenly country.

Edit: Oh, and if you do continue to the PCT (as the author of that post did) this is a great year to do it. PCT trips are cancelled, so if you do the hike in August, you will have far fewer people than usual.
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Nancyann
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PostSun May 03, 2020 8:00 pm 
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We went to Diamond Lake at the end of August and just doing that was a pretty good workout. Meadow Lake had several good campsites for the first night. The fisherman’s path 800 feet down to Diamond Lake was steep with lots of loose rock, but probably easier for kids of that age than trying to continue on to Lime Ridge. You get a nice view of Lime Ridge from Diamond Lake and you can go cross country over to Emerald Lake and veggie belay down to it if the kids want more adventure. Lots of big fat bears gorging on blueberries that time of summer for even more excitement. smile.gif
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Malachai Constant
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PostSun May 03, 2020 11:16 pm 
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I have been there many times on different routes.. I have done the crystal lake route to meadow lake and it was pretty tough 10 years ago. Do not know if kids would be comfortable there. Usually went across the Suiattle both with and without bridges. The past couple years the crossing looked gnarly but varies a lot with river level. Usually I am in CA in late fall. The route from Mica lake is quite frighting to inexperienced folks, we rescued a couple who were afraid to cross the steep snow without axes once. I also came up from Fire Creek way in 2002 and it was not bad but that was then. I would do it first with a doughy friend before taking kids up now. Great fishing in the lakes.

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George Winters
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PostMon May 04, 2020 9:21 am 
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This question very directly reminds me of one of my first big lessons about "What is possible" for hikers in the Darrington area when I came here from Arizona in 1995.  As a brand new but older than average Wilderness Ranger for the district, I was assigned a day trip up the mysterious "pipeline" to check a sign near Box Mt Lake, and check conditions for the start of Lime Ridge and the status of a back country toilet at the lake.

I was very impressed with the pipeline, mostly it was findable relative to a deer path, and I was impressed with myself that I could do such a rigorous and seemingly obscure track.  I found the sign.  The trail became much more obvious once I was near the first lake.  I was seriously wondering why my boss had sent me to a place that obviously almost no one would want to try to surmount that crazy "trail".  Then I came to the lake.  To my utter amazement I found a friendly chap at least 25 years my senior, happily cooking a freshly caught trout in a cast iron frying pan, on a two burner coleman camp stove, coleman gas lantern hanging nearby, in a comfy camp, and accompanied by his chipper grade school age grand daughter.  The sprightly gentleman, wearing logger suspenders, jeans, and a hickory shirt, shared that he'd been coming up there since he was a kid, and now he gets the extra pleasure of bringing his grand daughter.

I had done a lot of hiking and off trail travel in Arizona.  I had never seen anything that remotely matched this.  Even now, I wonder if my oxygen deprived brain dreamed this up, except that since then I have seen numerous occasions of local people doing similarly, to me, unimaginable things in the mountains.

Its worth the trip if you can do it safely.

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JVesquire
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PostMon May 04, 2020 9:16 pm 
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Pretty hard for me to imagine fording the Suiattle, any time of year, with a 7-year old. I've been at that river any given month from May to October. Knee deep to you is waist deep to them. It strikes me as negligent unless you luck out and get a really lower water event, but I doubt that. Find another route up there or find a different trip. The kids won't know the difference between the Lime Ridge route and anything else with some lakes.
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woodchips
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PostTue May 05, 2020 9:56 am 
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Thanks, everyone!  I don't think that coming in from the South (Mica Lake/Fire Creek pass) sounds like it would make sense for us.  While our kids are adventurous, we're not ready for high consequence steep snow or lots of exposure.  The river crossing sounds like the crux on the other side.  I may do some scouting at some point ahead to see if there's something reasonable.

Appreciate all the insight!
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JPH
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PostTue May 05, 2020 6:52 pm 
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JVesquire wrote:
Pretty hard for me to imagine fording the Suiattle, any time of year, with a 7-year old.

I think you could do it, but I would definitely cross the river first, put the kid in a life vest/harness and belay them on their crossing.  A little slip in that spot could be a life altering event for everyone involved.  You could stash the crossing gear behind a tree near the river for the rest of the trip.
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Foist
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PostWed May 06, 2020 9:50 am 
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Wow and I thought I was raising my kids to be hardy hikers...
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