Forum Index > Trip Reports > A failed attempt at Garfield 4/30/2023
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Comma
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PostTue May 02, 2023 12:16 am 
I've been eyeing Garfield for a couple years now, and finally decided to make a go at the northwest route this past weekend. I knew there was a good chance the route was already out for the season, but why not! Even if I didn't make it, I'd have more beta for my next attempt. My very cursory 5 minutes of googling didn't yield much information on this particular route; most reports were of the southwest route which is outside of my solo comfort level. Trailcat Jim's report was the best report I found. I got to the parking lot around 745 Sunday morning. That road gets worse every year, and I hope the USFS gets around to fixing it sooner rather than later. There is one spot immediately after the Garfield ledges bridge where my Civic now kisses the road. The rest was navigable with slow, meandering driving. I was pleasantly surprised to see that despite the glut of car campers, the campsite immediately before the Taylor river bridge was empty so I didn't have to awkwardly go around. I followed the faint boot path beyond the campsite until it petered out at a sandy area, and carried on along the river. The bushwhacking was quite pleasant as far as Middle fork 'shwhacking goes. At northwest Garfield creek, I found a log to shimmy across. I took a quick snack break, then started heading up the ridge on the northeast side of the creek. All I knew of this section was that there was a gully somewhere around 2100 ft, and that Jim's group headed down towards it... *insert cheesy foreshadowing sounds here* So around 2000 ft, shortly after reaching a talus field, I started contouring around, then ended up dropping into the creek bed. Whelp, it was a gully alright. I rock and log hopped up a little ways, and had some minor flashbacks to some extreme hikes I did back when I lived on 'Oahu.
Video here! My rock hopping ended at a very pretty but rather impassable waterfall. I turned around. I poked a bit on the other side of the creek, but ended up going back up where I came from. I probably wasted a good hour or so on this side quest. By the time I got back to the talus field, I was very annoyed at myself and very hungry. So I stopped to eat both my hunger and my emotions with my lunch. I watched an orb weaver do its thing next to me. Spiders everywhere! I continued on up and across the talus field. After the talus, I stumbled across a game trail that turned out to also be a climbers' trail - signs of sawed/hacked off branches. I soon traversed above the waterfall from earlier. This trail unfortunately ended in a slopeful of slide alder. I could see some of Garfield's many peaks from here. From the lack of snow, I was pretty damn sure the northwest couloir was out but decided to keep on going. After a short while of not getting very far into the slide alder, I came across an old broken pole. Let me know if you want it back for old times' sake!
I soon decided to maximize the rock hopping and minimize the slide alder hell. I made it up to maybe about 2600 ft when I finally encountered real snow. It was very wet, but not consolidated or thick enough to comfortably boot up, so I finally put my snowshoes on. Here, I made my second major mistake. I should have stuck to the center subridge of the basin, but instead I went up high to the left. I got to a point where I thought I might soon get cliffed out. I got to a vantage point where I could see a portion of the northwest couloir. There was at least one very large breach. Between that and the amount of time it would take me to backtrack and find a better way up the basin, I knew I was done for the day. So I found a nice spot where to enjoy the rest of my food and the views before hiking back out. Depending on next year's snow conditions, I think I will attempt this again in late March/early April. I hope others don't make the same mistakes I did! embarassedlaugh.gif https://caltopo.com/t/EAKR6NS9AD

Fedor, ALW Hiker, Now I Fly, ozzy, thunderhead, RichP, Bramble_Scramble, mosey, neek
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Stefan
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PostTue May 02, 2023 5:13 pm 
There are two reports on this website with detailed information.... https://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7982642 https://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=8033756 They could help you out the next time! Good show!

Art is an adventure.
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PostTue May 02, 2023 8:58 pm 
Stefan wrote:
There are two reports on this website with detailed information....
Yeah, like I said, my googling was very cursory! That was the first mistake I made. Five minutes is a generous estimate. I also use DuckDuckGo rather than Google, which generally requires more effort to find what one is looking for \_(ツ)_/

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puzzlr
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PostWed May 03, 2023 10:30 pm 
Mistakes can be part of the fun as long as they're safe. Thanks for the report because I've wondered what that waterfall you dead-ended at looked like from below. I've been up into the basin above it several times by myself but never with the intention of climbing the peak solo. It's good to know going up along the left side doesn't work. I have heard that sometimes SAR will clear some of the brush at the critical transition from the talus field to the creek above the lower waterfall. This is the route they would take (and have taken) to rescue people who are high on the mountain. It sounds like they haven't been there in a long time. BTW, besides the waterfall you saw, there is another spectacular one in the left branch of the creek. You would have been above it near your high point. It's almost a slot canyon in granite.
Canyon waterfall in Garfield basin
Canyon waterfall in Garfield basin
Canyon waterfall in Garfield basin
Canyon waterfall in Garfield basin

Mid Fork Rocks flickr

Fedor, Bramble_Scramble, lopper, Now I Fly, mosey
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PostMon May 08, 2023 11:23 pm 
That's a beautiful waterfall! Now I kinda wish I'd gone on just a little further. Next time!
puzzlr wrote:
Mistakes can be part of the fun as long as they're safe.
Yeah I have a habit of just winging my hikes and climbs. It often means wasting time/energy route finding, but it does also result in stumbling across stuff like pretty waterfalls and untouched mushroom patches!

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