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kitya
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PostSun Aug 30, 2020 1:01 pm 
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Thanks to geyer's recent excellent trip report, I too learned that Gamma Ridge trail is an excellent shape and decided to try it. The trail conditions are just amazing right now, many thanks to the volunteers who worked on it - there is no single blowdown, everything is cut and all brush is cleared, it is just perfect. Both Gamma Ridge and Upper Suiattle River trails are just perfect. The bridge is gone across Vista creek, but there is a good log. All this great maintenance makes Gamma peak a long, but not impossible day trip.

I was also interested in Gamma Hot springs, but yet again me and Cookie failed to get there. They are definitely not close to the ridge, in fact there is no water whatsoever on the ridge. Looking at the map I could see that hot springs would be about a mile down (and a considerable elevation drop) on steep rocky terrain at the head of Gamma creek. However I'm not even sure how much water is left in Gamma creek, down below it almost completely dried up. Dropping 1500 feet of elevation on not most easy terrain without knowing for sure where to go (i couldn't see any trail there) sounded like too risky for me to add to the day hike. Hopefully in some years I will try to return for a longer trip.

The ridge trail however is very visible and continues past Gamma Peak along the ridge to the Glacier edge.

Suiattle River road is also in perfect conditions, no potholes, but lots of washboarding. Trailhead and camping are super busy, it is very hard to find parking. Interestingly I only met one person actually on the trail, but camping tents are everywhere. 3 tents pitched on the Gamma ridge itself in the meadows and lots of tents all along each of the trails. Going back at night some campers had large fires going and one tent even had a fancy disco ball type lighting illuminating trees all around it. Weird!

The photos are mostly from the last (short) part of the trip. Most of the approach has no views and just rambles along rivers and creeks. However there are some really big trees. Also it was shady and not too hot.

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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 9:36 am 
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You mention a desire to go to Gamma Hot Spring.
Don't spend too much time searching.  It may be gone or so insignificant as to be essentially a 'woodsy myth.' ( in contrast to urban myth).
If you or anyone else finds this alleged hot spring, you will surely become famous if not rich.


kitya wrote:



These two photos show extensive evidence of the great eruptions of Glacier Peak around 12,000 years ago. The light- colored material is a large volume of ash and pumice produced as pyroclastic flows and air- fall material ( tephra). Glacier Peak ash is found a few cm below the surface all over the region and appears as light gray fine 'sand'.  You have no doubt seen it in trail cuts, and anyone who has been to Ice Lakes  has marveled at the pumice littering the surface. ...all a Glacier Peak product!
Lahars ( mudflows) from Glacier Peak have gone  all the way down the Suiattle, Sauk, and Skagit as far as the salt water. Collectively the lahars make up what has been named "The Great Fill", the top of which forms a terrace that the modern Suiattle had incised.
I could go on and on.
Glacier Peak... tied for being the most interesting active volcano in the North Cascades (I'm biased, you know, and there are only two).

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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kitya
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 10:06 am 
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Brushbuffalo wrote:
You mention a desire to go to Gamma Hot Spring.
Don't spend too much time searching.  It may be gone or so insignificant as to be essentially a 'woodsy myth.' ( in contrast to urban myth).
If you or anyone else finds this alleged hot spring, you will surely become famous if not rich.


I do not expect to find the grand prismatic spring of Yellowstone smile.gif))

But I am pretty sure the hot spring is not just a myth and it is not gone. I'm pretty sure there are few people who been there and just keep it a somewhat secret and it is too small and too remote to make it worthwhile for many other people to go. I found Sulfur hot spring (at the beginning of the Suiattle River trail) before and quite enjoyed finding it, it is not much, but it was a puddle of sulfury dirty warm water and it was kind of fun finding it. But back to Gamma - surprisingly someone did the trip this year in spring and posted trip report on WTA with the photo of the gamma hot spring:

https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/trip-reports/trip_report-2020-05-31-6855461531

They didn't give out any coordinates however.
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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 11:28 am 
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I have friends who have gone they are definitely there and are hot but not impressive. PIA to get to.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 12:36 pm 
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Malachai Constant wrote:
have friends who have gone they are definitely there

Oh, my failing memory!
I stand corrected and had confused the Gamma Hot Spring with the even smaller and more mysterious Sulphur Hot Spring that kitya also mentions visiting.
Let me quote from Routes and Rocks by Crowder and Tabor (p.21) for Sulphur Hot Spring: "The trail begins on the Suiattle Road a few hundred feet below the bridge over Sulphur Creek.It climbs a little from the road....traverses the hillsides, and drops slightly to the banks of Sulphur Creek ( about 1650', 0.5 miles......leaving the trail, cross the creek on an interesting maze of narrow footlogs and continue a short distance upstream on the bank to Sulphur Hot Spring.
" This disappointingly small seeping of warm sulfurous water and odoriferous gas ( hydrogen sulfide) is the smallest of the known hot springs near Glacier Peak and the most distant from it."

Kitya, does this correlate with  your route description?

Another mythical hot spring 'springs' into reality in my skeptical mind!

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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kitya
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 1:34 pm 
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Brushbuffalo wrote:
Kitya, does this correlate with  your route description?

Yes! This was back in 2010, when Suiattle River road was still washed out and closed. And I used to have friends who hiked with me (since than most of my hiking friends decided that many of my hikes are too crazy for them for no reason and stopped hiking with me smile.gif))) It was 10 miles walk one way just to get to the end of the road and the Suiattle River trailhead. There were no people there at all, it was super peaceful. We hiked to the summit of Sulfur Mountain first. Than going back there is a bridge across sulfur creek just after (when coming back) Suiattle River Trailhead. On the other side of the bridge there is a campground and a trail that goes up along Sulfur creek. At least at that time trail was overgrown and abandoned, just a forest trail with no views and lots of water around. It was raining too and creek was running high. After about a mile along the trail I started doing what I learned in SAR is called type 4 (evidence) search. I.e. i went on my knees and hands and started crawling around the forest floor in a grid, touching every water puddle or creek I can find. Eventually I crossed to the other side of sulfur creek and my friends decided at that point that I'm crazy and they don't want to cross after me through quite deep rushing water for no good reason. But I persisted. Eventually I found a dark-dark smelly puddle that was quite warm! I even dig around in the mud and made enough space so that I can sit in it and be warm. It was super cool, but unfortunately not super hot (a bit like a warm bath). I was super proud of myself, like a pig that found her favorite puddle smile.gif Yes, it is not a grand prismatic spring of Yellowstone, but it was pretty fun to find it and have it all to myself! I even have a photo to prove it:

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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 1:43 pm 
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A couple weeks ago you could smell the Sulphur all the way to the bridge over Sulphur Creek. Found it long ago with my daughter when she was about 6.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Brushbuffalo
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 1:50 pm 
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kitya wrote:
I even have a photo to prove it:

Kitya and Malachai, you are adventurers!

This would technically be classified as a 'warm spring'.  Hot springs have to be at least 50 degrees C, I think.  Scaldingly hot!

kitya wrote:
At least at that time trail was overgrown and abandoned

In 1965, when Routes and Rocks was published, the authors mention that the trail was maintained as far as the spring, then not maintained beyond.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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kitya
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 2:12 pm 
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Yep, you are right, it is a warm spring, not hot spring.

as I said it was 10 years ago when I went there, at that time the road was closed and no trails were maintained for several years. If I remember correctly glacier peak had huge floods in 2003 that destroyed a bunch of trails and roads, including Suiattle and at that time when I went (7 years later) the forest service still had lots of other stuff to repair, before getting to any of the trails there. So all of these trails where not maintained at that time, but they are probably maintained again now. According the national forest, the trail is indeed getting lost after about a mile, i.e. right after the area where warm springs are. But the trail never went *to* the warm springs, because the trail is on the west side of the creek, but the warm spring is on the east side of the creek. And yes, you can smell sulfur all the way to the campground, but it still doesn't mean warm spring is super easy to find. Same with Gamma - I could smell sulfur from the summit.

Also I would not want to go to Sulfur warm spring now anymore. It used to be a lonely place when the road was closed 10 miles prior. A week ago sulfur creek campground was a zoo. I would not be surprised if there is a boot path all the way to the warm spring now, but they really cannot fit more than one person.

Here is my friend who didn't give up and found the warm spring with me 10 years ago on that day smile.gif

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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 2:23 pm 
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kitya wrote:

fun!
However, I tend to avoid springs because the popular ones are an experience like soaking in a warm septic tank....well, not that bad, but tests have occasionally shown that the colloform bacteria count is alarmingly high. That caused the Forest Service to dismantle the Baker Hot Spring on the south side of Mt. Baker, but it is still used in a reconstructed pool by some. I remember the Kennedy Hot Spring that was foul-looking and foul-smelling, but was, I admit, refreshing after a G.P. climb. I made sure to rinse off well in the ice-cold river just a few steps away.
It was wiped out in the 2003 flood and apparently is gone now. The water must still be leaking out, but it is not evident.  Any updates, anyone? It is quite inaccessible now that the White Chuck River road and trail are abandoned.

Best spring I have ever soaked in ? Liard River in the far north of B.C.
Flow of water keeps it clean and pure (I assume).

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kitya
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PostThu Sep 03, 2020 2:36 pm 
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Again, when I went to Sulphur warm spring it was inaccessible to most people for at least 7 years after road washout and number of people hiking everywhere 10 years ago was not that much. I'm pretty sure at that time Sulphur warm spring was untouched by human poop for many years and was clean! I just don't think it can be clean now. It is just too small and doesn't flow enough.

I know what you say about baker hot springs many years ago, i went there and it was disgusting. There were people partying there day and night, there were broken beer bottles and panties floating in the water frown.gif It was exactly like going into a sewer, but people there were so drunk, they didn't mind.

Out of Washington state hot springs, I really like goldmyer hot springs. Having a caretaker is really important to make sure people behave and do not trash it.

In oregon I really enjoy Breitenbush hot springs for the same reason.

In BC my favorite was hot spring island in Haida Gwaii. I was alone on the whole island and there used to be a ton of fast flowing hot springs into the ocean and I could see whales swimming around from the hot spring. Unfortunately I heard there was an earth quake and hot springs stopped flowing.

As for the old Kennedy hot springs area, I heard there is now a bootpath and the trail is not super hard to follow again. I have a friend who went there a year ago and he was able to follow the kennedy ridge trail. However he didn't see any hot springs seeping.
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Gwen
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PostSat Sep 05, 2020 1:32 am 
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kitya wrote:
The trail conditions are just amazing right now, many thanks to the volunteers who worked on it - there is no single blowdown, everything is cut and all brush is cleared, it is just perfect. Both Gamma Ridge and Upper Suiattle River trails are just perfect.

You're welcome. We've had a great time clearing it. You can thank Hulksmash for the inspiration and getting the initial crew stoked to begin the project. Brian, Arthur, Don and myself along with Mike, Marty, & Mike & Carol really enjoyed the transformation. When I finished my stint up there last year, I thoroughly enjoyed putting my hands in my pockets and strolling the mile plus back to camp without a single obstacle to overcome. (Okay, yeah, there's that one giant thing that ain't ever not gonna be there unless it gets blown up.) Glad folks are taking advantage of it.

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Tomorrow's not promised to anyone, so be bold, scare yourself, attempt something with no guarantee of success. You'll be amazed at what you can achieve. -Olive McGloin
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kitya
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PostSat Sep 05, 2020 10:59 am 
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Gwen wrote:
You're welcome. We've had a great time clearing it. You can thank Hulksmash for the inspiration and getting the initial crew stoked to begin the project. Brian, Arthur, Don and myself along with Mike, Marty, & Mike & Carol really enjoyed the transformation. When I finished my stint up there last year, I thoroughly enjoyed putting my hands in my pockets and strolling the mile plus back to camp without a single obstacle to overcome. (Okay, yeah, there's that one giant thing that ain't ever not gonna be there unless it gets blown up.) Glad folks are taking advantage of it.

Thank you so much Gwen and also to all your friends. Amazing work. Me and Cookie we don't really like camping and without the trail being in such perfect condition, I don't think we would have made it to the top of Gamma in a day! Thanks!
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JVesquire
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PostThu Sep 10, 2020 12:50 pm 
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Man, reading that trip report I thought it was tongue-in-cheek until I read the posts below and realize this has been logged out. This trail was the most unbelievably difficult, route-finding required trail five/six years ago, and fun too. Thanks to anyone who had a hand in clearing it up.
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PostWed Sep 16, 2020 11:28 am 
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kitya wrote:


Is this smoke? some of the ash that Brushbuffalo mentions? cloud formation? When doing a Glacier Peak circumnavigation the last week of August this year, from Miner's Ridge we saw what we assumed was smoke. It seemed to be billowing up from the same location as in these photos.
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