Monday, July 11, 2016

Polallie Ridge - PCT - Waptus River loop, Alpine Lakes Wilderness

A largely-pessimistic forecast and some last-minute plan changes put me out in the central Alpine Lakes Wilderness up the Salmon La Sac road. This loop (~27m, 6,200' gain), outside of the first climb, has a lot of runnable terrain and worked out as a good training run on a mediocre weather day when views were unlikely to be had in more ambitious locales.

  • Polallie Ridge: first 2.5m have been cleared. Beyond, there are intermittent blowdowns with the exception being .5m of solid blowdowns on the descent, northbound, down to Waptus Pass (photos below). 
  • PCT: four blowdowns and some light brush starting at 3700' (on descent).
  • Waptus River: handful of blowdowns, overall trail is in good shape if not a little rocky from horse wear. The ford is knee deep but slow and clear. 
Four different Wilderness areas the last four weekends
Columbine on Polallie Ridge
Diamond Lake
First meadow on Polallie Ridge, Hour Creek headwaters
Second meadow, unnamed creek headwaters
Polallie Ridge trail and former lookout site
Former lookout site
Beginning of blowdowns past the old lookout on descent to Waptus Pass
Oh yeah...
Frog in Quick Creek at Waptus Pass
Some backpacker is going to be upset
Waptus Lake from the PCT
PCT looking toward Mt. Daniel in the clouds
Spade Creek falls
Waptus River ford

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sheep Mountain 8274', Pasayten Wilderness

Up until yesterday I'd never had that perfect Pasayten trip (snow in May, snow in June, record-setting heat in June, downpour in October, etc.). I remember planning the trip with Graham and Paul in 2014 and Graham remarking, "It's the Pasayten...something always happens."

With those experiences in mind, I planned to backpack out to Sheep Mountain and then stay in Whistler Basin, hiking out the following morning. I figured there would be hundreds of blowdowns and the other usual issues that create longer-than-planned trips. Unfortunately, things went a little too well and I summited Sheep in 6:35 from the car, arriving in Whistler Basin just before 5pm. With five hours of daylight left I had no idea what to do, so I just hiked out, finishing at 9:45pm, about two minutes shy of needing my headlamp. After being gone all last weekend, a certain kiddo was very happy to have me home earlier than planned.

Hiking 40 miles with a full backpacking set up that went unused felt pretty lame, but the day was truly amazing and I think this is my new favorite area in the Pasayten...

  • Billy Goat trail: cleared to Drake Creek.
  • Larch Creek - Larch Pass: one large microburst of trees passable off trail; ~100 (?) blowdowns w/the majority being step overs, some crawl unders and climb overs.
  • Northern trails (McCall Gulch, Whistler Basin, Peeve Pass): some patchy snow though none present any real difficulties; everything in great shape and very lush. 
Shout out to Gary and Otto; it was very nice chatting with you and I hope you had a good time on the rest of your trip!

Training weight...ugh...
Weekly dose of Wilderness
Many Trails Peak over Diamond Creek and Lost River
Go high for the first group and low for the second, which is a quite big grouping
Larch Creek drainage with Larch Pass

East Fork Pasayten River drainage; beetle kill?
McCall Gulch basin with Two Point Mountain
The northern Pasayten is in bloom
Corral Lake
First full view of Sheep Mountain, from above the Timber Wolf Creek drainage
Looking back toward the pass above McCall Gulch (where the previous photo was taken from)
South slopes of Sheep Mountain in bloom
South side of Sheep Mountain, from 7300'
Buck and doe on Sheep Mountain
Two bucks on Sheep Mountain
Upper slopes of Sheep Mountain, ~200' of easy talus
Looking east from Sheep Mountain: Cathedral Peak and Pass, Amphitheater Mountain, Windy Peak, Remmel Mountain
South (left) to west, from Sheep Mountain
Ramon Lakes on the north side of Sheep Mountain
Jack Mountain (r), Ptarmigan Peak (l)
Sheep Lake and the eastern Pasayten

Bear tracks at Peeve Pass
Sand Ridge, dividing Timber Wolf Creek and Mayo / Whistler Creek drainages
Whistler Basin
Whistler Basin and Ashnola Mountain
Trail to Whistler Pass
Glacier Lily
Whistler Basin
McCall Gulch basin, Larch Pass from Whistler Pass
Looking back at Whistler Pass over McCall Gulch
Setting sun from Billy Goat Pass, looking north
Just about back to the car; looking south from the Billy Goat Pass trail