Forum Index > Trip Reports > Center Mountain Trail Now Cleared to Sky Pilot Pass, July 27 - 31, Aug 23-27,  2020
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KarlK
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PostThu Aug 06, 2020 4:08 pm 
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UPDATE: Mike, Marty and Joe finished clearing the Center Mountain trail all the way to Sky Pilot Pass on August 23-27. Exceptional work by dedicated trail-bucking buckaroos. (I missed this trip because I in the midst of doing a 14 roll on the Lionshead and P515 fires in Oregon).
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We have some particularly dedicated and skilled trail crew leaders in the NW, and since Mike is among the very best, I signed on with him to participate in Part 2 of the Center Mountain trail #754 project.

Part 1 of the project was undertaken last September:

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8030575

This year's crew members also included the very experienced and hard working Sandman, JoeH, DaveJ & PamJ, TomV, PeterK and, CarolJ.

Since we knew that hot weather was on the way, I drove over Harts Pass and down the Slate Creek road to the Chancellor townsite a day early to get a start on packing water to the high camp located ~1400' of elevation gain above the toe of Center Mountain.

When I reached the Slate Creek crossing ~4 miles from Chancellor, I encountered two strong but tired hikers with heavy packs who said they were enroute from the Canyon Creek trailhead to the (mercilessly overgrown) Mill Creek trail via Cady Pass some 5 miles and 2500' of elevation gain beyond, followed by a long trudge down the old Azurite mine road to the Mill Creek trail. When asked if I knew anything about the route, I allowed as I did, explained the situation, and suggested that they reconsider (they did), and not just because they were planning to be home the next day. The loop they were planning would have constituted a notable ordeal with more than a little potential for worse.

So that was good deed number 1 for the day.

Good deed number 2 was packing 7 gallons of water to get a start on provisioning the high camp at ~4400' with enough fluid to sustain a lot of hot weather work. PeterK and I added to that the next morning with 5 additional gallons each. (Lots of heavy load carrying in the course of saw work this season paid off in another way when I took my third annual wildland firefighter pack test, this time in very sunny Pendleton on August 4th; 3 miles with a 45 lb pack in 32:55, a PR  smile.gif ).

In all we worked out of three camps, one at Chancellor, a second at the North fork of Canyon Creek at the foot of Center Mountain, and the high camp located ~1.8 miles up the trail from the N fork.

Mike and I stayed at Chancellor amid a bumper crop of noseeums, countless of which handily got through my hammock's bug netting. Sucky as all get out, but as my military friends are fond of saying, "sometimes you just gotta embrace the suck."

The high camp was staffed by JoeH, TomV and PeterK, while the rest of the group camped at the N fork of Canyon Creek, a favorable choice owing to cooler air flowing down the creek's canyon.

We accomplished a lot of work, as the trail is now cleared of logs up to the 5700' level (Mike's Accomplishments map documents the work); ~170 logs have been cleared. CarolJ also did a good deal of brushing and smaller log cutting beyond the 5700' level.

In addition, Mike put a metric F-ton of effort into treadwork, including a pitched sledge hammer battle to clear a nice path through a bad rockfall section near the Cascade Creek crossing. The only other guys I personally know who devote such attention to treadwork are retired Methow district ranger Mike Liu and retired Seattle firefighter and Winthrop resident Don Hecker.

In addition, PamJ did a great deal of brushing, of which the trail needs much much more (hint to anyone with loppers and looking for a hike suggestion wink.gif ).

I learned new and useful skills from Sandman (the windless rigging is very cool), JoeH (related to side bind) and Mike, and look forward to working with the whole crew again.

I should note that the Slate Creek road is gated at the crossing. We were able to drive the remaining four miles to Chancellor owing to the good graces of, and a formal agreement with, Methow district ranger Chris Furr.

However, one can get from the crossing to Chancellor quickly on a bicycle, and the ride back is not unreasonable.

I'll add more pictures as I get them sorted out.

Accomplishments Map 2
Accomplishments Map 2
Water at high camp, 07.30.20
Water at high camp, 07.30.20
Carol and Tom
Carol and Tom
JoeH, Center Mtn trail, 07.28.20
JoeH, Center Mtn trail, 07.28.20
KarlK running Glinda
KarlK running Glinda
Ramp setup to roll log section past trail, 07.28.20
Ramp setup to roll log section past trail, 07.28.20
Pretty typical, 5 ft bucking saw for scale, 07.31.20
Pretty typical, 5 ft bucking saw for scale, 07.31.20
Windlass Rigging
Windlass Rigging
after the "hammer"
after the "hammer"
finished
finished
Ax used to prevent rolling, 07.31.20
Ax used to prevent rolling, 07.31.20
Cantilevered log at 3950' - before
Cantilevered log at 3950' - before
Cantilevered log at 3950' - after
Cantilevered log at 3950' - after
Tom sawing, 07.28.20
Tom sawing, 07.28.20
Tom sawing (2), 07.28.20
Tom sawing (2), 07.28.20
Some of Mike's treadwork
Some of Mike's treadwork
Rootwad in trail
Rootwad in trail
After rootwad removed
After rootwad removed
Retread complete
Retread complete

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Roy Jensen
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PostThu Aug 06, 2020 4:38 pm 
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Awesome!  Thanks!  Much more to go!
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lopper
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PostFri Aug 07, 2020 3:12 pm 
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Best trip report in a long time.

Magnificent work.  Kudos to you all.

It's been over 40 yrs since my last visit to Sky Pilot Pass, Anacortes Crossing, Hells Basin & Chancellor.

Thinking seriously about a brush-cutting field trip.

Might there be plans afoot for dropping a tree across Eureka Creek?  (trail #484)
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KarlK
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PostFri Aug 07, 2020 3:47 pm 
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Many thanks for the comments Lopper!

Mike is working assiduously on the Eureka Creek log crossing issue. I'll ask him for an update and get back to you.

Here are some Center Mountain photos from a Mike and KarlK scouting trip in early July. The high portion of the Center Mountain trail from Sky Pilot pass to the S Edge of the meadows is a splendid experience, one rarely enjoyed for quite some time. Perhaps it will become more popular now that the trail has been greatly improved.

Looking N from Center Mtn summit, 07.03.20
Looking N from Center Mtn summit, 07.03.20
Looking into Cascade Creek from Center Mountain, 07.03.20
Looking into Cascade Creek from Center Mountain, 07.03.20
KarlK selfie, Center Mtn summit, 07.03.20
KarlK selfie, Center Mtn summit, 07.03.20

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Karl J Kaiyala
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lopper
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PostSat Aug 08, 2020 9:36 am 
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Thank you for the supplemental pics, Karl.

Here are three images from early June 1973.  Two from the Skypilot/Center Mtn highlands, and one looking at the Cascade Creek headwaters from Anacortes Xing.

Kodachrome 25 film in an inherited 1948 Kodak Retina II camera.

73SkyPilot2
73SkyPilot2
73SkyPilot1
73SkyPilot1
73HellsBasin
73HellsBasin
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KarlK
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PostSat Aug 08, 2020 11:16 am 
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Very cool Lopper -- you guys were there early in the year!

I'll head back into Hells Basin one of these days. Meanwhile, some older pictures...


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Karl J Kaiyala
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lopper
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PostSat Aug 08, 2020 12:01 pm 
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Wow.  Great photo overload.  Thanks for all the pics.

Especially like the view E from Hells Basin.

The avalanche trim-lines are impressive. One of those gave us our peek at the Canyon Creek Trail, looking down from Anacortes Crossing.

We bailed for the low route.  Hells Basin was as shown in the 1973 picture: all snow.  We'd had enough of snow (from Frosty Creek & Chuchuwanteen)
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Blowdown
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PostSat Aug 08, 2020 6:57 pm 
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Wow! 17 gallons of water! And over 170 logs! All digitally mapped! Good deeds indeed!

Of all the bright stars in WTA and former WTA, you folks are superstars!

Also BADA$$  !!

Outstanding work! Thanks from all of us!   up.gif  up.gif
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Brushbuffalo
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PostSun Aug 09, 2020 9:09 am 
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Another heroic effort by a strong crew. Thank you all!

KarlK wrote:
Water at high camp, 07.30.20
Water at high camp, 07.30.20

What event other than trail clearing  does this remind you of, Karl?

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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KarlK
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PostSun Aug 09, 2020 9:20 am 
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Well Brushbuffalo, it kinda reminds me of doing taxes, opps my wife says "you never do the taxes, I do."

Number two would be the prep work for an ultra...and I do hope we have an actual race season in the coming year!

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Stefan
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PostMon Aug 10, 2020 10:14 am 
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No really.  You are all awesome!!!

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Art is an adventure.
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KarlK
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PostWed Sep 09, 2020 4:39 pm 
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I've updated this report to indicate that the Center Mountain Trail is now cleared all the way from Chancellor to Sky Pilot Pass.

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Karl J Kaiyala
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Center Mountain Trail Now Cleared to Sky Pilot Pass, July 27 - 31, Aug 23-27,  2020
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