Monday, June 17, 2013

Cabin Fever

Due to unforeseen drivers, I was forced inside most all weekend.  Specifically, a work project heated up to critical and I spent most of the weekend indoors doing engineering (grumble, grumble, grumble).  The weather was great.  But, there I was, doing calculations.

Fortunately for me this coming weekend is a three-day weekend.  My initial game plan was to drive to North Cascades National park, park the car where the road ends, and then backpack for three days.

My intent was to drive to where the Hannegan Trail / Pacific Northwest Trail started, stash the vehicle, and then hike the Hannegan Trail to the Chilliwack Trail, and then set up camp at the U.S. Cabin campsite.  Given it is rugged and about ten miles, I figured that would be my Friday.

Saturday I was going to leave camp setup there and explore the Bush Creek Trail ending up back at camp for the evening.  Sunday I was planning on reversing course back to the vehicle.  Then I found the trails report:

Hannegan Pass Trail mostly snow covered, with solid snow coverage after the first ~2 miles. last 1/2 mile of Hannegan Road is still snow covered and impassable to vehicles. Crossing Hannegan Pass requires ice axe and routefinding skills. Expect Chilliwack trail to be snow covered above 3500'. Bear Creek Camp is over-grown but useable. Cable car and horse ford at the southern crossing of the Chilliwack. Use caution during high water events.
Trail not maintained north of Bear Creek Camp. Access via Canada very difficult (consider it a cross country route) due to trail washouts and downed trees.

OK, plan "B."  I've always a plan "B."  Before we get to that, here's what I read about this area of North Cascades National Park:

The Copper Ridge area draws serious backpackers--and sometimes hardy day hikers or trail runners--to its lofty ridgeline, one of the few such high trails within the national park. Combined with the scenic Chilliwack River Trail, the beautiful old growth valley route that follows the Chilliwack River from its source near Hannegan Pass to Chilliwack Lake in Canada, this is a popular but strenuous backpacking loop.
For longer backpacking trips and a true immersion in wilderness, hikers can take a side trip up the Brush Creek Trail to Whatcom Pass, or continue onward to Ross Lake or State Route 20 via the Little Beaver or Big Beaver trails.

Perhaps this will be better later in July or early August.  I'll keep my eye on the website for trail conditions updates.  Back to Plan "B" - Goodell Creek Campground, Newhalem Creek Campground, Gorge Lake Campground, and Colonial Creek Campground are all open.  A dude could setup base at Colonial Creek and either do some daily out and backs, or, hit the trail with a full backpack and camp overnight at some of the primitive sites while making a loop around Ruby Mountain.

The park's got a nice Wilderness Planner page on its website HERE.  There's a link way at the bottom of that page to a Wilderness Map.  All the campsites and trails are on there.  Handy AND dandy!

Regardless, I'll not be kept inside next weekend.  The deciding factor on where I land is weather dependent.  I'm guessing by Wednesday I'll have the destination figured out.  What if the weather's crappy everywhere?  Well, there's always plan "C....."

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