Forum Index > Trip Reports > Lake Kulla Kulla 09/09/2022
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Bluebird
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Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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Bluebird
suffering optional
PostWed Sep 14, 2022 4:26 pm 
I decided to spend a post-work weekday afternoon finally finding my way to Lake Kulla Kulla. I prefer the old Mason Creek/Lake trail so I took that up to Mason Lake, around the busy lake to the junction with trail 1009 (Mount Defiance). Since my goal was to explore, I took the faint trail straight ahead instead of turning. This quickly gets very steep and cliffy, and the case of the woman who spent a few days at the lake with her dog, who I thought had tumbled down a minor cliff to end up there, plus a couple other lost hiker reports over the years were on my mind. I turned around and followed trail 1009 up and down almost to Sir Richard Pond. There was another trail nub on my left, which I followed - it even had pink flagging!
the trail nub
the trail nub
The brush quickly became horrendous on the steeps here. I turned my Gaia on to record a track for better precision if this really had to be the way. I normally just record a watch track. I noticed there was a TRAIL marked on Gaia starting closer to the pond. How could I have not noticed an actual lake trail in my many, many hikes here over the years? I spent a few minutes extricating myself from the brush, tearing my pants, getting a bug in my eye and then headed towards this mythical trail.
it's not too bad here
it's not too bad here
As I recalled from the past, there wasn't a trail where Gaia said there was. I followed one faint bootpath along where this trail is marked on the map, there's a nice rock with a view and below, steep bushes of the sort where you can't see your feet. Having just been in this terrain, I searched sideways a bit for better options, but got trapped in the brush again and had to crawl out. I backed up almost to the pond again, turned right where it looked like the brush might be less thick, which was between my two route attempts. It was a more open brush tunnel and then! I found open forest. Praise be the forest goddess.
better terrain
better terrain
major improvement
major improvement
After a minute of forest downhill I decided the terrain looked better heading right, which was also towards the trail line on the map and my 2nd attempt. I continued along the path of least resistance, finding two pink flags along the way.
i suppose butterfly triathlon compression pants were not the best choice
i suppose butterfly triathlon compression pants were not the best choice
a flag found alone only confirms you are on someone's route :D
a flag found alone only confirms you are on someone's route biggrin.gif
I found myself on a minor ridge, which grew increasingly steep so I went left into a small boulder field and then tried to descend. It was not good, the kind of thick hellebore where you can't see your feet and there are holes everywhere. I managed my way through this to then find more thick bushes. Good times. I tore my pants a couple times and got trapped in some native blackberries. I could see a lake below me, which I figured was Little Kulla Kulla. I confirmed this with my map. I headed a bit more right, and found my feet on a faint trail. I followed it steeply down to the lakeshore of Kulla Kulla.
so pretty
so pretty
happy to be at my lake finally
happy to be at my lake finally
mount defiance never looked so good
mount defiance never looked so good
nice campsite
nice campsite
The lake has a well appointed campsite with a fire ring, which I understand is allowed since the lake is below 4000 elevation. I found a faint trail heading right, and tried out the variations as they petered out before plopping myself at the lakeshore to soak in the loveliness. Mount Defiance's cliffs are opposite the campsite. I decided to pick myself a liter of blueberries to take home before heading out. I followed the trail I'd ended up on, but found it ends at a boulder field next to Little Kulla Kulla lake.
trail to little kulla kulla
trail to little kulla kulla
little kk lake
little kk lake
the boulder field at little kulla kulla
the boulder field at little kulla kulla
Rather than go back and try a completely new route, I gave in and veggie belayed up, it was a little worse uphill. I found my descent track on mh watch and stayed a little farther right than the hellebore business, but that turned bad too, luckily next to the boulder field where I started the bushwhacking. I found the steep forest again. Heading up the forest wasn't the same way I came in, but everything goes in a hiking-->class 2 kinda way. When I come back I will try the steep forest all the way down to the lakeshore and see if that goes. It might have a move or two, or perhaps I can keep heading right and that's better. Or maybe it's just a schwack no matter what? Total trip is about 8 miles/3000 gain via the old mason lake trail
noms
noms
some artifacts on my route recording
some artifacts on my route recording

Now I Fly, JimK, Brushbuffalo, Randito, freddyfredpants, Lightning_bug, hot.choss, kite, hikergirl1234, Slim, fourteen410, mosey, raising3hikers, RichP, Bramble_Scramble
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Bernardo
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Bernardo
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PostWed Sep 14, 2022 5:30 pm 
Very cool.

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mosey
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mosey
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PostWed Sep 14, 2022 6:16 pm 
Neat, that's steep. I really enjoyed blazer lake adjacent when I was last out there.

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BarbE
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PostWed Sep 14, 2022 7:53 pm 
Quite pleasant with snow. No bushwhacking, just steep terrain.
Kulla Kulla 3/6/22
Kulla Kulla 3/6/22

Now I Fly, ALW Hiker, Lightning_bug, chiwakum, Bramble_Scramble  Bluebird
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



Joined: 13 Feb 2007
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks
PostFri Sep 16, 2022 2:36 am 
Thanks for the detailed report on trying to find the trail that's been on the maps forever. Twice I've followed every hint of a trail coming off the Mount Defiance trail but never found anything that continued. I wasn't willing to do the brush bash you did and I'm glad to know I didn't miss something. As BarbE said, there is a wonderful winter route following a drainage down to Blazer Lake and then from there down to Kulla Kulla. The "map route" is doable in snowshoes coming up with only a couple really steep parts. With the thick forest cover it's relatively avy safe, especially the route via Blazer.

Mid Fork Rocksflickr

Bluebird
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Brushbuffalo
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Brushbuffalo
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PostFri Sep 16, 2022 5:58 am 
Bluebird wrote:
a flag found alone only confirms you are on someone's route :D
a flag found alone only confirms you are on someone's route biggrin.gif
Yes, and too often I seem to only be following another rambling wanderer! lol.gif

Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still

Bluebird
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Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob



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Backpacker Joe
NWH Joe-Bob
PostSat Sep 17, 2022 4:59 pm 
Really nice work. Ive been there a couple times. Its a pain in the butt. Thanks for posting.

"If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide." — Abraham Lincoln

Bluebird
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ALW Hiker
lakebagger



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ALW Hiker
lakebagger
PostSat Sep 17, 2022 6:47 pm 
Nice report and pictures! Me and a buddy went in there last year and never found any hint of a trail other than that little bit up by Sir Richard. We also never found the camp site you did at the bottom, or any trail by the lake - nice find! Our track was farther west in the bottom part, between the Little Kulla outlet and the supposed trail on the map. Also, at the time we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes, so we didn't feel too much like exploring! Those pink flags on the hillside seemed to be heading too far east, so we abandoned them partway down, fearing we would end up missing the east end of Kulla Kulla. I suppose it's possible they lead down to the outlet somehow - maybe someone else knows!

Bluebird
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ALW Hiker
lakebagger



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ALW Hiker
lakebagger
PostSat Sep 17, 2022 6:48 pm 
Nice report and pictures! Me and a buddy went in there last year and never found any hint of a trail other than that little bit up by Sir Richard. We also never found the camp site you did at the bottom, or any trail by the lake - nice find! Our track was farther west in the bottom part, between the Little Kulla outlet and the supposed trail on the map. Also, at the time we were being eaten alive by mosquitoes, so we didn't feel too much like exploring! Those pink flags on the hillside seemed to be heading too far east, so we abandoned them partway down, fearing we would end up missing the east end of Kulla Kulla. I suppose it's possible they lead down to the outlet somehow - maybe someone else knows!

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achildinthesehills
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achildinthesehills
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PostWed Nov 02, 2022 10:46 pm 
Good info about the campsite! I've thought about trying to camp at Kulla Kulla to avoid the Mason cesspool but wasn't sure about finding a good spot near/on the shore since it's so steep around it. For anyone wondering where some of these "ghost trails" come from, Gaia is somewhat unique in that it imports trail data directly from the USFS database without any kind of validation as far as I can tell. Most services at least cross-reference with OpenStreetMap, if not exclusively use it for trail locations. The "Kulla Kulla Lake Trail" (#1009.2) is one example of many that can be found in the USFS database but don't actually exist. Maybe some of them did at one point, but a lot of the ones I've come across are rough approximations at best of little-traveled or mostly forgotten cross-country routes. The Census Bureau's TIGER database is another source of questionable stuff (mostly roads) that sometimes makes its way onto maps. Unfortunately there's usually no granular visibility from the mapping services about where their data comes from, so it's yet another thing to be aware of in the trip-planning process.

"But [you] can't slow down now / As the earth has presented / A new crest to reach / Without barely a rest / From the last one"

ALW Hiker, brewermd
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ALW Hiker
lakebagger



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ALW Hiker
lakebagger
PostThu Nov 03, 2022 8:45 am 
Very interesting info about Gaia data sources. I had thought that they only got their data from OpenStreetMap. I didn't know that USFS had publicly available ArcGIS data, but I've used the USGS site before - this is great for looking at historical maps. Map inaccuracies are sort of fascinating, but perhaps even more surprising is how they seem to persist for decades, or indefinitely without being corrected. I do encourage people to research and submit corrections to OpenStreetMap if they're familiar with maps and topography.

achildinthesehills
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neek
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neek
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PostThu Nov 03, 2022 9:13 am 
ALW Hiker wrote:
Map inaccuracies are sort of fascinating, but perhaps even more surprising is how they seem to persist for decades, or indefinitely without being corrected. I do encourage people to research and submit corrections to OpenStreetMap if they're familiar with maps and topography.
+1 on correcting in OSM when possible. I contacted gaia once about a USFS-sourced trail that leads off a cliff ("Spider Gap") and they seemed interested but that was 2 years ago and it's still there.

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Malachai Constant
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Malachai Constant
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PostThu Nov 03, 2022 10:28 am 
Gaia so times includes heat maps which show where “somebody” has gone and left a track. These can be useful for off trail with the caveat that they may have walked off a cliff or was otherwise lost.

"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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Bluebird
suffering optional



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Bluebird
suffering optional
PostThu Nov 03, 2022 1:52 pm 
Interesting suggestions all! I checked OpenStreet maps and they don't show the nonexistent Lake Kulla Kulla trail. Neither does Caltopo. It makes sense that it likely is there on Gaia because of the USFS inclusion. I often use my Strava and Suunto heatmap features as I can sometimes find bootpaths that aren't on the map. No surprise, neither shows a strong signal there. @neek sounds like might not be worth complaining to Gaia, otherwise I would, esp since people seem to get lost down there periodically... makes me wonder if it's related to Gaia showing a trail that isn't there?

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penquin
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penquin
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PostSun Nov 06, 2022 7:30 pm 
Here is the track from the winter route BarbE and the rest of us took via Blaser Lake on the way in and the more direct route out. Going in we followed an Otter track from Mason to Blaser and the on to Kulla Kulla.

ALW Hiker, zimmertr
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