Forum Index » Post-Trip Reports » WA State 50-100 mile loop


Display Avatars Sort By:
Bernie Bower
(Bernie) - F

Locale: Southern Indiana
WA State 50-100 mile loop on 06/19/2009 12:24:08 MDT Print View

On July 1st my daughter and I would like to do a loop. I am moving her from Richland WA back to Indiana. We got reservations for the Wonderland trail a month ago but now we understand its under snow so we thought the Wenaha-Tucannon Loop but its under snow. I want to backpack not base camp and daytrip for a week. We are both in decent shape, ok she's in great shape and I manage thanks to an 8lb base weight. Can you'all help.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
WA State 50-100 mile loop on 06/19/2009 15:38:11 MDT Print View

The Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness should be just fine by July 1. Current "Snotel" data (I looked yesterday) shows the snow gone at 5700 feet in that area (Oregon Butte, the high point, is 6500). Generally the higher trails (like Oregon Butte) are accessible by mid June, even in high snow years. It's better to go when there are still scattered snowdrifts left at higher elevations than to go later on when the springs have dried up! However, it will be really hot down in the Wenaha River Canyon. You also need to keep an eye out for poison ivy (yes, ivy, not oak) and rattlesnakes while down in the canyon.

Another possibility would be a loop on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge (my "back yard"). By July 1, the snow in the upper areas (only 4,000-4,500 feet, but north-facing slope and close to Mt. Hood) should have melted out. You could go via the Gorton Creek or Herman Creek trails (the former has more viewpoints but is more strenuous) to Wahtum Lake and return via the spectacular Eagle Creek trail (you might want to avoid the latter on weekends and/or holidays, though--it's very popular with dayhikers, hence crowded). If you do this, park as close as you can to the campground host at either Herman Creek or Eagle Creek campgrounds, or park at the Eagle Creek Fish Hatchery lot (definitely not the Eagle Creek trailhead lot), and leave nothing (of value or otherwise) in your car. There's a trail (Gorge Trail #400) connecting the two trailheads.

A third possibility would be the eastern end of the Pasayten Wilderness in northern WA, in the Horseshoe Basin area. It's in the rainshadow of the North Cascades so melts out earlier. If you're using Doug Lorain's "Backpacking Washington," it's listed as the "Eastern Pasayten Loop." However, most people go in from the Iron Gate trailhead to Horseshoe Basin, although the "string" on the "balloon" is about the same length as the Thirtymile Campground entrance suggested by Lorain. From Iron Gate ther's less elevation gain and, I believe, less "cow country." Again, there may be snowbanks but not solid snow. This is the trip I personally would pick.

A fourth possibility is the awesome Olympic National Park wilderness coast. It's certainly a lot different from either Richland or Indiana! It is, however, very strenuous (up and down primitive ladders and steep muddy trails when going over headlands) and requires a lot of attention to tide tables. You can find details on the ONP website (www.nps.gov) or the above-mentioned Doug Lorain book. You'll need campsite reservations for the Sand Point-Cape Alava section, and those may be hard to get on the July 4 weekend. There are, I understand, private shuttle services available, since it's a one-way hike.

I would say that any such loops in the higher Cascades, Olympics or Wallowas will still be pretty snowy.

You might want to post a query on www.nwhikers.net (Seattle) or www.portlandhikers.org.

I lived in Richland for 9 years, but fortunately was able to move to Portland when I left. I did enjoy my time there.

Edited by hikinggranny on 06/19/2009 15:43:28 MDT.

Matthew Steingass
(Steingass) - F

Locale: Washington
Loop trip on 06/22/2009 19:28:44 MDT Print View

I vote for the eastern pasayton loop too. 65 miles long and usually open late June. Gets top ratings for scenery and solitude. I was going to do this loop but the trail head is something like 7 hours from where I live. It's probably even further from where you live tho. Most other mountain loops I've seen are listed as open from mid to late July.

Edited by Steingass on 06/22/2009 19:29:28 MDT.

Bernie Bower
(Bernie) - F

Locale: Southern Indiana
Thanks and thoughts on shelter on 06/23/2009 03:50:01 MDT Print View

Thanks Matthew and Mary! The the Eastern Paya it is. I'll call a district office today for beta and probably start off our hike by stopping off at the forest service office early on july 1st for good directions for the last 25-35 miles of the drive to the trailhead.

My last gear decision is shelter, 5'x8' tarp that I can cnfigure into a homemade cape (my faverate), a gatewood cape i've only set up in the yard or a tarp tent contrail that would be 100% bug protection?

Matthew Steingass
(Steingass) - F

Locale: Washington
Re: Thanks and thoughts on shelter on 06/23/2009 04:58:14 MDT Print View

Does your daughter have a shelter? If so what will she be using? What other bug protection will you be using? The contrail seems a little tight for 2 but since she's your doughter you could share the weight and both be protected from the bugs. I think your mostly in the sub alpine so exposure is another thing to think about if you don't have a bivy. A forecast might help you decide what shelter to bring too. Here's a great TRIP REPORT I found a while ago. He went July 13th-16th 2008 but 2007/2008 was a heavy snow year so you should be OK as far as trail conditions this year. I'm not sure about bugs but he did use a Cloudburst Tarptent. If you email him he could probably give you lots of useful info. Hope you have fun.

Edited by Steingass on 06/23/2009 05:19:18 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
A few eastern Pasayten trip reports on 06/23/2009 14:25:15 MDT Print View

From July 12 of last year (very high snow year and colder spring than this year):
http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7968433&highlight=iron+gate

From 6/30-7/4/07--gives an idea of explorations that can be done from the Horseshoe Basin area: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7960693&highlight=iron+gate

Out-and-back trip to Cathedral Lakes on the same date: http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?t=7960761&highlight=iron+gate

Do expect LOTS of mosquitoes! Before you leave, spray your hiking clothes (they should have long sleeves and legs) with Permethrin (you can get it at the Kennewick REI). Take a headnet and lots of DEET. It's that way everywhere in alpine areas just after the snow has melted out. And you'll want either a really good bug net under that tarp or a tent with full mosquito netting.

Edited by hikinggranny on 06/23/2009 14:36:16 MDT.

Bernie Bower
(Bernie) - F

Locale: Southern Indiana
I hate mosquitos on 06/23/2009 15:54:50 MDT Print View

Thanks again friends. We are spoiled in southern IN. I might slap 6 mosquitos a year on my patio so I will definetly be in the contrail. Kate has a semilight REI tent that she just bought and is proud of. It takes at least a trip or two to move a person to ultralight. I'm working my way through the trip reports and everything I've seen is awesome. I'll get a report up here when we get done.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
WA State 50-100 mile loop on 06/24/2009 14:22:35 MDT Print View

Go to the Pasayten. You will not regret it.