Help finding a backpacking loop

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By sandinmyjoints on 06/29/2011  09:34

Hi,
I'm looking for help finding a trail for a 5-day, 4-night backpacking trip. There are four of us, and we have a fair amount of backpacking experience. The hiking starts July 10 and ends the 14th.

The ideal trail would be:
-a loop (we are from DC, renting a car in Portland)
-have total mileage of 25 miles, give or take 5 miles. Day trip possibilities are a bonus.
-be within about a four hour drive of PDX
-snow-free
-have some spectacular views :)
-not TOO overriden with mosquitos, though perhaps this is too much to ask?

I have called some ranger stations and will call others, and also checked out several trail guides. But I wanted to ask here because people seem very friendly and this way I can maybe get some suggestions, do some research, and ask follow up questions, if you don't mind. :) Actually, the way I found this site was that this hike came up when I was googling: http://www.trailsnw.com/index.php?fuseaction=Trails.DisplayTrail&hike_num=216

It looks great. Does anyone know if it is snow-free? Is it within Mount Baker/Snoqualmie or Gifford Pinchot?

Thanks for any help, pointers, or other information!
-William




sandinmyjoints



Total Posts: 5

By Forrest on 06/29/2011  11:52

The big problem we're all unfortunately facing currently is the heavy snow, so many great trails will still likely be impassable.

The Clear Fork Loop is great (there are several great loops in the same area), but it looks like it gets up to about 6,600' in elevation.  I just looked at a snotel survey station nearby for reference, located at 5,410' that still has 73"  of snow (!), White Pass, also near this trail at 4,440 still has 6" of snow.  Hopefully this will continue to melt in the next two weeks until your hike, but there is still quite a bit of snow out there that needs to melt out. 

It's a bit of a drive, but probably still under your four hour drive window (although it would probably be faster to fly into Seattle), but the Olympics may be a good option, since there are some lower level valley trails.  There are some hikable areas closer, like the Indian Heaven Wilderness that would be accessible, although the scenery isn't quite as spectacular. 




Forrest



Total Posts: 315

By sandinmyjoints on 06/30/2011  05:01

Ah, that's what I was afraid of re: snow. Thanks for the tip about the Olympics, though my buddy just checked Snotel for it and saw snow cover there as well. At least it seems to be melting in a lot of places, about 2" per day. So maybe 20" and below will be clear by the time we get there!

It seems I will need to get on the phone with various ranger stations and try to find at least one trail that is already clear so we have *someplace* to go. I'll also try to find 1-3 other (perhaps higher) trails that could be clear by July 10, and make calls about 24 hours before we start hiking to find out if any of them actually are.

I still welcome any and all suggestions for good loop possibilities! Thanks!




sandinmyjoints



Total Posts: 5

By PDXHiker on 07/01/2011  13:41

This isn't a loop hike, but it might work for you anyway --

We'll be doing a backpack trip up the Enchanted Valley in the Olympics.  It'll be a 14-mile hike in (over two days), then day hike in the valley for two days, then two days back out.  There doesn't seem to be a lot of elevation gain during those first 14 miles, either, so it apprears to be pretty gentle.  There's snow on the routes we plan to day-hike, but the backpack section is clear, and hopefully some of that will melt before we get there.




PDXHiker



Total Posts: 53

By sandinmyjoints on 07/02/2011  13:11

Thanks! That sounds promising. I'll do some research on the Enchanted Valley.

We are also considering driving the 6 or so hours down to Klamath NF. Looks like the snow level there might be up to 6000. Has anyone had experience backpacking in that area?




sandinmyjoints



Total Posts: 5

By Mike Mansour on 07/02/2011  16:24

I would do the High Divide Loop in the Olympics - snow permitting.  When I went on that trip I saw about 10 bear, marmots, deer, many elk, grouse, etc.

If that doesn't work due to snow, I would take a look at Enchanted Valley in the Olympics. I've wanted to go there, but it was only last year that the road was repaired to the TH.

I would also think that the Green Lakes Basin in Central Oregon would be open.

Whatever you pick, have a great time!




Mike Mansour



Total Posts: 18

By crazychester on 07/07/2011  10:31

 High Divide is amazing, probably the best loop in ONP but will be snow bound at least until early August.  Enchanted Valley is a great reccomendation.  The forest on the way in is amazing and the valley itself us stunning.  Also, you WILL see bears and elk aplenty.  We saw 8 or 9 when there a month or so back.  Other possibilities:

-Eagle Cap wilderness- a bit of a drive from Portland but, imo, the best mountain scenery in the state.  Not sure on snow conditions there though.

- Obsidian Basin- west side of the 3 Sisters wilderness.  Would definitely be some snow but partly melted out too possibly.





crazychester



Total Posts: 1

By sandinmyjoints on 07/18/2011  07:34

Day 1: Eagle Creek to Dublin Lake with accidental diversion to overlook spot with river gorge views. Beautiful day for forest hiking. Only saw a few people.

Day 2: Dublin Lake to 7 1/2 mile campsite. Snowball fight atop Tanner Butte with nice views of Hood, Rainer, St Helens (only one small patch of snow was left). Forded Eagle Creek. Hardly saw anyone. Fun day.

Day 3: 7 1/2 mile to Wahtum Lake.  Cloudy and wet and chilly. Before starting day's hike,  ran down to Tunnel Falls. Spectacular! Passed big scout troop supposedly going to Wahtum Lake but never saw them again. Hiked up and nearly around Wahtum Lake before realizing there were no more campsites, turned back, found many campsites signed "No Camping" or occupied. Finally found a nice vacant one.

Day 4: Wahtum Lake to Eagle Creek trailhead. Woke wet from overnight soaking rain. Decided to hike all the way out instead of taking two more days. Took shortcut from Wahtum Lake southside over lake outlet toward mountain I can't remember the name of. Skipped side trip up mountain. Nice hike to Benson Plateau. Descent down to Eagle Creek wet and treacherous. Trail was overgrown and slick on a fire-cleared slope. More waterfalls on Eagle Creek—beautiful. Long day!

Overall, I enjoyed it. Because everything was low altitude I had got it in my head it would be easy, but 8-9 miles a day (15 on day 4) and several days of more than 3000 feet elevation change was a good workout for us.

We considered doing a different loop that would have gone up Hanson(?) Creek to Rainy Lake for the first couple days. Ran into someone who'd done that. He said Rainy Lake was snowy (also rainy) and he'd needed his GPS.

Thanks to everyone who replied! Your information was very helpful in deciding what to do.




sandinmyjoints



Total Posts: 5

By Forrest on 07/19/2011  09:24

Thanks for the report.  I was hoping to get out and do a three day backpack this past weekend (been way too long since I've been out), but awoke Saturday morning to pounding rain -- decided to put off our trip yet again.  Sounds like you still had a good time out on your adventure though.




Forrest



Total Posts: 315