Klapatche Park, 07/24/10-07/25/10

When I first flipped through my copy of 50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park and saw Ira Spring’s photograph of Klapatche Park, the destination shot to the top of my to-hike list. And like most locations on my to-hike list, it just stayed there. I was reminded of it again last year, while watching The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, which briefly flashed another Ira Spring photograph of the same location, this one from many years earlier.

The problem is, Klapatche Park isn’t all that easy to get to. In the not-too-distant past, one could park their car within three miles of it, but the road washed out twenty-one years ago and left the western side of The Mountain more isolated than most of the rest.

After walking the more recently decommissioned Carbon River Road earlier this year, I decided that it was time to walk the Westside Road and visit the fabled Klapatche. The weekend’s weather would be perfect, and from what I’d read on the Mt. Rainier National Park website, snow levels seemed pretty favorable, too.

This trip would be solo.

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Short Trips in Sisters, Oregon, 07/03/10-07/04/10

Some good friends invited us to spend the extended Fourth of July weekend with them and friends of theirs at a ranch in Sisters, Oregon. We enthusiastically agreed, and had a great time. The area is beautiful—the closest we’d ever been is the also-beautiful Breitenbush Hot Springs, but the environment is a little different on the east side of the mountains.

Three Sisters from The Ranch.

There were wonderful views of a lot of volcanoes and near-perfect weather…

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Carbon River Road and Glacier, 06/12/10-06/13/10

After spending Friday evening celebrating an improbable new job for me, we woke up Saturday morning eager to take advantage of beautiful weather but somewhat unprepared to do so. I’d been thinking about heading to the Carbon River entrance of Mount Rainier National Park, and its nearby location and easy walking made it seem like a good candidate for our first backpack of the year.

The Carbon River washed out the road of the same name some years back, and it stranded what used to be a drive-in campground some five miles down a now-but-perhaps-only-temporarily-decommissioned road. I thought we’d walk the five miles to the campground, set up our tents, and head off and explore the area, perhaps continuing on to Carbon Glacier, the lowest-elevation glacier in the Lower 48.

Nicole on the Carbon River Road.

Even though we didn’t get a super early start, the northwest corner of Mount Rainier National Park is such a quick drive that we’d gotten to the park, stopped in at the ranger station for our permit, and started off down the road by 11:15.

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Lower Ice Lake, 08/27/09-08/29/09

Somehow, I found myself with an extended weekend at the very end of August; Nicole didn’t.  Thus, the table was set for my Second Annual Solo Backpacking Trip, a trip set to coincide with my twenty-ninth birthday.  Certain conditions were to be met.  The hike couldn’t be too high on our must-do list, because Nicole wouldn’t be along to enjoy it.  I also wanted something that would challenge me.  And why not make something that’s a little further away than our normal weekend overnighter?

In the end, I decided on Ice Lakes, via the Entiat River.  100 Hikes… put the round-trip mileage at ~28 and recommended allowing 3-5 days.  Ice Lakes were on my list, and the criterion fit.  I’d be carrying a heavy backpack (~45lbs) but reasoned that the elevation gain would be spread over so much mileage that it’d be no problem.  More training for the Canadian Rockies!  My itinerary was flexible: I’d leave Thursday, make the lakes Friday, spend Saturday exploring or summiting Mt. Maude, and return Sunday. Or, if the forecasted thunderstorms came to fruition, I might return Saturday instead.  Whatevs.

I left straight from work on Thursday around 12:30, and pulled into the trailhead parking lot at the end of Entiat River Road at 16:00.  The drive was nice, taking me past Leavenworth for the first time through Wenatchee and north along the Columbia River through an interesting landscape.  Though there were signs warning of big horn sheep crossings, I saw none.

I booted up and hit the trail at 16:20, setting a comfortably quick pace in order to put as many easy miles behind me as possible on the first day.  The trail starts off wide and dry, mixed-use as it is (hikers, horses, motorcycles).  The trees turn from somewhat unhealthy-looking to fully fire-scarred and destroyed as one makes progress down the Entiat River trail.

Evidence of a burn.

Evidence of a burn.

At 17:55, I entered Glacier Peak Wilderness, ~4.2 miles from the trailhead.  The trail narrowed.  Deer met me head-on on the trail.  The sun lowered behind the ridge to the west.  Every snap, crackle, and pop in the forest had me looking over my shoulder; I attributed each one to another deer, fearing a bear or cougar as the sounds stalked me along the trail.  I realized only later that the heat of the day had gone from the naked, burned trees.  And now they contracted in the shade like an old house in night’s silence.

hikers_50

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Goat Lake, 06/13/09

[Editor’s note: Nicole surprised me this morning by having written her first trip report the night before.  Very cool!  Any additions by myself will be noted.]

So, Jeremy has been nagging me to write a trip report or at least a part of one since he started this website. He is so good at it that I never have. And I am lazy. But this is the longest he has waited to do one, so I thought I better help. Here it goes…I have none of the details like the times or mileage so Jeremy can add that stuff in.

We left about 6:30am and picked up my cousin Bobby in Mill Creek (he is interning out here for the summer). I believe we got to the trailhead about 1 ½ hours later, so a total of 2 hours-ish from West Seattle. As we got on our boots, the sky was clear and it was looking like a beautiful day. We started out and just a little ways in came upon a junction, where we chose the lower trail. The two options are supposed to be the same distance, with the lower being a little more challenging.  [The lower trail also stays closer to Elliott Creek.  —Ed.]

The trail was very nice and well maintained. We were walking along the river for much of the hike. I am having a hard time continuing with this part of my report. If only Jeremy were awake, he could assist. It was pleasant and the scenery nice. There were some pretty big trees. I guess that is all I have to say. Maybe a nice little picture would be good here, hon.

The author and her cousin along the lower trail.

The author and her cousin along the lower trail.

Eventually (maybe 5 miles in) we started going up to the lake, so the pleasant walking was no more. There were even switchbacks, but it really wasn’t that bad. Bobby, who by the way is 21 and in very good shape, didn’t even break a sweat or lose his breath. But us older folk did just a little bit. Shortly before we reached the lake, the dudes went off to the right to see a waterfall.  I missed it because I was feeling like finishing up the uphill part.

hikers_50

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