PCT 2007 – Day 142 – Prominent Ridgecrest – Tieton Pass

Day 142 8-14-07 Tarp Tent 4570′
Prominent ridgecrest – Tieton Pass
23.0 miles; 2291.3 (77.46) total miles; 4158.3 trip miles
80’s, mostly sunny hot
Days camped alone 23

Critter Tour General Category
Deer count is 132
Marmot count is 53
Elk count is 39
Slug count is 13
Pika count is 11
Bear count is 7
Rattlesnake count is 6
Goat count is 3
Martin count is 1
Badger count is 1

!!!The Elk came out hard today and put ten points up. The big story was the Goats who were just added to the Tour yesterday put up 3 points!!!

Mornign light on Rainier

The sleeping spot I made for myself wasn’t the smoothest, so I had a lumpy night’s sleep. I got up at 6 AM and was hiking by 6:30! I got a nice picture of the sunrise as well. My day started with a nice leisurely downhill past a trickling creek, which I got water from. Soon I passed the junction of the Walupt Lake Trail 101. After the junction I started one of two 6+ mile climbs I had today. As I was hiking along, I had already spooked a couple of larger animals. I guessed they were deer by the sound. Then a few miles into the climb in a thick pine forest I spooked some elk. First I saw a couple on my left, then one on my right. I walked on slowly for 20′ maybe and there 10′ away from me behind a tree was a calf. It hadn’t seen me yet, so I slowly went for my camera. As I went for the camera, the calf turned its head in my direction and when it finally saw me, I could have sworn its eyes got bigger and it ran scared shitless up the slope. By now I’m totally on the lookout for more.

Elk

I walked another 20′ with the camera out and stopped at a bend in the trail. Just then 30′ up the trail a cow crossed my path. Then another stuck its head out into the trail. I heard some more off to my right. As I looked back up the trail, there was 3 cows now. I got a picture then one of the ones off to my right sees me and turns 180° and high tails it out of there. This set off the whole bunch. The woods around me just came to life and elk were running everywhere. Once it calmed down, I caught my breath after thinking I might get run down. The elk to the left of the trail spook again and takes off down the slope. I hung out a while longer but finally moved on. I only saw 10 elk but I bet there was close to 30 or more.

Goat Rocks

Goat Rocks

I passed Sheep Lake and crested a saddle. Just before I crested the saddle, I saw two hikers. Well, there were more than two! I reached the saddle and there about 20+ boy scouts and their dads. I sat with them and enjoyed a beautiful view of the mountain that was laid out before us. I answered their questions and one dad gave me a Snickers. I left and pressed on to Cispus Pass,, where I ran into two more hikers. From the pass I got to go downhill for 2.2 miles. As I descended I spotted two people on horses. I picked up my pace so that I might talk to them; but even though they had to dismount for one of the creeks, I didn’t catch them. I also needed water so I had to stop myself. I got water at a tributary of the Cispus River, which had a 20′ high waterfall. As I filled my bottles, it was splashing me. There have been terrible flies for a few days now and while getting my water, they drove me mad. Once you stop, there all over you.

Mt. Rainier

Just up the way from the waterfall, I stopped for lunch. During lunch I killed dozens of flies, but they just kept coming! Lunch was shorter than normal because of the flies. I moved on and had a brutal short climb but the reward in the next bowl was incredible.

Yes, that thin line is the trail

The Goat Rocks Wilderness is my second favorite spot, the Sierras being number one. As I crossed this bowl I passed numerous campsites filled with huge tents. People were camped all over. I was shocked since it’s the middle of the week. While looking up at the large peaks and feeling small, I saw my first mountain goat. He was traversing the high ridge between the peaks. I climbed out in the hot sun up a very rocky trail and could see people on Old Snowy Mountain. I passed a handful of people; then as I crested one of the climbs, the two people on horseback were coming right at me. I moved out of the way and found out they didn’t like the looks of the PCT because of the snow and the steep traverse it took. They decided to find another way. Both horses were Tennessee Walkers, and one was 16 and 3 hands tall. He was big!

The trail follows this ridge

I moved on up the slope and passed four other horses tied up. Then I crossed my first major snowfield since the Sierra. After crossing the snowfield I ran into more people and they pointed out another goat. I then had a short climb and then the tricky traverse. It was all scree (will have to ask Scatman what the word is) and there was one snowfield. I passed another 8 people as I made my way to the Knifes Edge. My data book said it was all downhill for 6.6 miles. That turned out to be total bullshit as I found out. I hiked along a narrow ridge, climbing at least 5 separate peaks before I went downhill in earnest.

Another view of Rainier

The views of Mt. Rainier were incredible and so were those of Goat Rocks. I saw a third goat down in the huge gully to my left as I traversed the ridge. I soon did a u-turn around a peak and was now headed SE, totally away from Rainier and where I should have been headed. I descended into a bowl on the opposite side of the mountains from earlier. I hadn’t seen a PCT sign in while and worried I was going the wrong way. I continued down passing even more campers and then was faced with yet another steep climb, during the all downhill section. I started to descend again and came upon 3 ladies who just happened to have their large map out and I asked if I could see it. They confirmed I was going the right way and that the water in Lutz Lake was gross.

When I got to Lutz, I saw the people the ladies said were there but they barely said hello. I attempted to get water but it had little brown bugs in it. I had already mixed my solution so I had to dump it out. I packed up and decided I had no choice but to do 4.3 more miles to Hidden Spring. As I left Lutz Lake, I heard water flowing. I saw a path leading into a grassy field. I followed the sound of the water across the field and found a crystal clear stream which appeared to be coming out of the side of the hill and not the lake. I filled up and as I left made a sign with sticks for others.

Now that I had water I could go to Tieton Pass, where there was a campsite but no water. It was just a mile downhill so when I got there my water was all treated and I went right to work setting up camp and cooking.

Today was a spectacular day and I will definitely come back here again and spend more time. This place was amazing.

Scatman 2011- If yesterday was amazing then today was over the top.  Goat Rocks was absolutely amazing.  It’s in my top 3 for favorite spots on the trail.  I had heard about it before my hike and hoped I’d have good weather when I hiked through the area and it was perfect.  Unfortunately others know of it’s beauty too and it’s busy.
My scare with the elk was crazy.  I really did think there were just a couple of cows in my immediate area.  When the forest erupted in noise from over 30+ elk running it was insane.  I actually looked around for a tree to hide behind but there were now close enough.  I could see their legs through the trees speeding by up to my right.  Then the male of the group started to bugle.  It was a tense moment which I barely had come down from when the second group did the same.  Over the next few days this became a common occurrence.
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Scatman
Get out there!
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