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Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Chinook Pass to White Pass, PCT on 10/05/2007 09:58:20 MDT Print View

My friend Hoosierdaddy and I did an overnighter of the section hike of Chinook Pass to White Pass on the PCT, here in Washington. By the time we got done, we did nearly 30 miles.
I had listed my potential gear list earlier:
http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/xdpy/forum_thread/9838/index.html

I did make some changes to my gear list. I took a double walled tent instead of a tarp tent, and I added in my down vest for more warmth. On Tuesday night I was up late making cookies for my kid's school. One of the batches I made were these Peanut Butter Delites:
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The cookies turned out to be the best thing to have along. Pure fat. The recipe is at:
http://www.recipezaar.com/17911

We left early on Wed morning, doing the truck shuffle. Hwy 123 was reopened last week, just in time for the snows to start.

Our trip consisted of snow 99% of the way. We had weather from blue skies to near blizzard whiteout conditions.

Leaving the TH at Chinook:
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Dewey Lakes far below:
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Creek between Dewey Lakes:
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The snow picked up around Anderson lake, with a howling wind. I was glad to wearing my new REI Alpine pants. They may have been ungodly heavy but they were windproof, waterproof and most of all they breathed well.

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I didn't take many photos the first day, as we left the American Ridge junction the snow started getting fast. As we crossed near Crag Mt, high above Two Lakes, the snow levels were 9" and getting deeper. We were in a near white out blizzard. That gave us good incentive to keep moving, and to drop lower.
After we had crossed the high point:
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We dropped down to the lowest point, passing pretty Fish Lake:
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We camped at Bumping River, under a copse of trees. It snowed Wed night, about 2". It was maybe 30* out in the morning at 7 am. We set up camp around 6:30 pm, and it was dark within a few minutes. Camp in the morning:
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I was happy I had brought the gear I did. I was warm in my 15* bag. I lined the inside of my tent with a E-blanket as well. That little tent was great (besides the bad idea to not guy it out.)

Morning came to soon, and we were off. First thing was crossing the Bumping River where I of course submerged my left foot into the river. Smooth move. I spent the next 13 miles with wet boots. Why I didn't bring my gaiters, I don't know. What happened is I had sealed my pants tightly, and when I slipped, the pants rode up. Had I left my pants loose around my boots I would have been ok. Lesson learned.

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We actually had great weather for the first half or so of the day. Blue skies and sun even. This bridge was "fun" to cross, it wasn't planed:
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After that, it was wandering through meadow after meadow and passing what seemed like 100 or more lakes, ponds and water spots. We saw ducks, and found tracks of coyote, fox, elk, deer and black bear.

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We got snow starting at Snow Lake (kind of ironic?) but it started coming down good at Buesch Lake, where we took lunch. We finally encountered other people there, horse packers heading to set up a hunting camp. We had seen no other signs of humans until then.

For the most part the next 6 miles were spent in sideways snow and freezing winds.

The ending though? Right as we neared White Pass the snow just stopped and the sky turned blue. It was just gorgeous.

Gear mentions?
The REI Alpine pants were worth having. They saved me-I didn't sweat, I was warm and dry. Lining my tent paid off. While hiking I didn't need more than my gloves, long sleeved shirt and GTX Paclite jacket to stay warm-but when stopping, even for a minute you needed another layer or you would be freezing.

Food?
As I noted I ended up tucking in a number of those PB cookies. They were fat bombs that kept me going. I don't like many bars, I'd carry them anywhere. I didn't eat a lot though, which wasn't good. I just had no appetite, due to the elevation gains and cold.
I ate a lot of the cookies, dried apricots, Cheddar Cheese Kettle brand chips (potassium/sodium) and a bagel with as HD said "Easy Cheeze is nasty!". For some reason Eazy Cheeze in cream cheese flavor was good ;-) But.....it freezes up solid under 35* or so. Sigh! I had to sit with the can insulated at breakfast to use it.
I had pasta with mostly olive oil for dinner, and a pack of Newman's chocolate mint patties. And more potato chips.

I had soup for breakfast, along with a number of cups of tea to get hydrated, along with crackers and Eazy Cheeze.

The rest of the day I lived on potato chips, apricots, more cookies and chocolate bars from Starbucks.

Yes, I did not eat at my best. I shoved whatever tasted good and that I could eat. Mostly I couldn't get the desire to drink-it was to cold out there!

When we hit White Pass I went to the C-Store there and bought a Payday Chocolate Avalanche candy bar, and ate all 24 grams of fat in one sitting. Burp. It tasted so freaking good. Then I drank a massive Snapple. We then went out to dinner and gorged ;-)

I am glad I packed a lot of easy to eat snack items versus meals. I was carrying though an extra days food.

I was glad I had packed my cell phone, my husband was not overly happy I went out into the storm, so I was able to get service during the blizzard and let him know we were ok. It was also good as someone knew where we were as well.

It just felt odd to be winter camping in first week of October. Next time though I am bringing my gaiters and my liner gloves.

Edited by sarbar on 10/05/2007 16:18:14 MDT.

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Thanks for the report. on 10/06/2007 20:44:04 MDT Print View

It didn't sound like a winter romp, but not without good moments. You mentioned not wanting to drink much. I've had that problem while winter hiking and we have started heating water, adding jello and just drinking it as a beverage. I think a mountaineer friend turned us on to that.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Thanks for the report. on 10/06/2007 23:30:20 MDT Print View

I wish could do the Jello trick - it works well! But alas, I can't consume fake dyes anymore :-(
The soup trick in the morning did work well for me. Warm and got water in me!

Kathleen Whalen-Burns
(rosierabbit) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Success based on preparation on 10/07/2007 14:38:14 MDT Print View

I enjoyed your trip report and pictures. It's interesting how attitude and preparation can affect the success of a trip. During the same days you were out, two other hikers were working their way from Snoqualmie Pass to Stevens Pass in similar weather. Some people planning to meet them at Stevens Pass became alarmed at their delay and got SAR involved. The hikers were found, wet, cold, and hungry, making their way to Stevens Pass. No other details were released by SAR, so we're left with speculation as to what caused their delay. No matter what the specific details were regarding them, it's good for all of us to be reminded that knowledge of what our gear can and can't do for us, sense to bring gear that can handle a range of conditions, and confidence in our own resourcefulness and abilities, are vital to enjoying/surviving backpacking at any time of year or in any weather. Sorry to be so preachy. I'm done!

Thomas Knighton
(Tomcat1066) - F

Locale: Southwest GA
Re: Success based on preparation on 10/07/2007 14:47:16 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing that! Living in Southwest GA, I don't get much time in weather like that. I hear plenty of people talk about how great it is, and then hear others talk about how miserable, but I always suspected that they were experiencing different weather. Knowing of two groups of hikers in similar weather, and that one was fine while the other wasn't, reminds me to never under estimate Mama Nature ;)

Tom

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thanks for the report. on 10/07/2007 15:22:25 MDT Print View

> The ending though? Right as we neared White Pass the snow just stopped and the sky turned blue. It was just gorgeous.
It's tough trips like these which you remember longest! Especially when they go off well, as this one did.

> As I noted I ended up tucking in a number of those PB cookies. They were fat bombs that kept me going.
Sounds like good stuff, and ...

> I had soup for breakfast, along with a number of cups of tea to get hydrated, along with crackers and Eazy Cheeze.
Soup is good in these conditions - water, plus electrolytes. Getting dehi is not smart.
Crackers: carbo + salt?
Cheeze: ugh, but energy too.

> Yes, I did not eat at my best. I shoved whatever tasted good and that I could eat.
Well, you had enough food to be able to do that, which is good. But does that mean you had other food which you couldn't eat and brought back? Maybe lessons for the next trip as to what works under these conditions?

cheers

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Defintely working on the food thing... on 10/07/2007 17:36:20 MDT Print View

I did notice there is a big difference in cold and hot weather eating for me. Part of my problem is my meds I take for my blood pressure. They slow down my ability to digest, but also leave me very cold in winter. So I just cannot eat big meals when it is cold. Argh! I did though plan for that (all the snacks) I can also get away with a bit more sodium when backpacking than when at home, so I tend to live it up.
And I will admit I loooove carbs.

The food I brought back was nearly a days worth of food, this was planning on just in case something happened.....I knew going into the trip it was going to be a hard, cold and wet trip, and my fear was "what if we are out another night due to the snow?". My goal is never to be the King 5 news "Experienced Hikers Lost At 11!" ;-)

So overall I guessed it right foodwise, but had to force myself to eat dinner. That was not easy and what normally tastes good did NOT. I have a feeling next snow trip it will be soup for all meals. I was sitting on Wed night thinking "a cup of lemongrass noodle soup would taste so much better right now!".

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
"two other hikers" SAR involved on 10/07/2007 18:54:52 MDT Print View

This is why I carry a PLB. Unless I am WAY overdue there shouldn't be any unnecessary calls. I appreciate what the SAR folks do and don't want them wasting their valuable time.
Sorry. One of my pet peeves took me off topic.

Edited by toesnorth on 10/07/2007 18:58:59 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Defintely working on the food thing... on 10/07/2007 19:26:19 MDT Print View

> The food I brought back was nearly a days worth of food, this was planning on just in case something happened.....
You are not the only one ... :-)

> My goal is never to be the King 5 news "Experienced Hikers Lost At 11!" ;-)
Amen!

> I have a feeling next snow trip it will be soup for all meals.
A couple of times in really bad weather in the snow I have brewed up a snack consisting of a fairly normal serving of rice but I cooked it in something like tomato soup. I have to say, it went down very well! Lemongrass with extra thin noodles?

Cheers

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: SAR involved on 10/07/2007 19:48:53 MDT Print View

Due to having a child I leave very detailed notes with my husband, showing my route, planned campsites, miles per day. I do not ever deviate from my route. If I can't go through, I turn around. I guess my feelings are with having a child I can only take so many risks. I carry my cell phone, an older model that is trimode so I can get old analog towers. When in alpine if I can get a signal I check in daily with my husband.
I know that for many that isn't a "wilderness experience" but for me....well, it gives me freedom :-)

I'll go out in bad weather, but I will make sure I have a plan: a route, protection from elements and keeping safe. And bluntly....I don't backpack alone.

The SAR has been very busy this year here in the PNW. I am glad they are there, just in case...just hope they never have to look for me!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Re: Chinook Pass to White Pass, PCT on 10/08/2007 09:20:10 MDT Print View

Sarah -

Thank you for an informative and descriptive trip report. The snowy-photos look gorgeous and it is excellent to see that all involved were both safe and enjoying themselves in the potentially dangerous wet fall/winter shoulder season.

- Sam