Tag: UPWC

Alpine Lakes Grand Tour 2-7 August 2018

The best challenges help one grow physically, mentally, and emotionally.  The Alpine Lakes Grand Tour challenged me in all these dimensions. My friends Linda, Roger and I set out to do this tour from the Snow Lake trailhead near Snoqualmie Pass to the Snow Lake trailhead near Leavenworth. We estimated this as a 134 km (83 mile) hike, including about 31 km (19 miles) through the Enchantments region of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness  of Washington state. The elevation gain was 7,897 meters (25,910 feet) and elevation loss was 7,555 meters (24,787 feet)

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We started this trip at 8 AM on Thursday 2 August and finished at 1215 AM on 8 August; a total time of 136 hours and 15 minutes. We originally planned this as a 5 day trip, about half way through we needed to add an extra day.

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Alpine Grand Lakes Tour route (link to CalTopo map)

Daily Itinerary and highlights

  1.   20.6 km (12.8 mi)  Gain 1,053 m (3,455 ft)  Loss 1,151 m (3,776 ft)
    (Snow Lake, camp at Hardscrabble Creek)
  2.   20.1 km (12.5 mi)  Gain   955 m (3,133 ft)  Loss 1,092 m (3,583 ft)
    (bushwhack to Dutch Miller Gap, Lake Ivanhoe, camp on PCT above Waptus Lake)
  3.   21.5 km (13.4 mi)  Gain   898 m (2,946 ft)  Loss    943 m (3,094 ft)
    (Cathedral Pass, camp at Paddy Go Easy trailhead)
  4.   23.4 km (14.5 mi)  Gain  1,335 m (4,380 ft)  Loss 1,703 m (5,587 ft)
    (Paddy Go Easy pass, Meadow creek trail, Jack Ridge, camp at Trout Lake)
  5.   18.1 km (11.2 mi)  Gain  1,377 m (4,518 ft)  Loss 1,019 m (3,343 ft)
    (Windy Pass, camp mear Stuart Colchuck trailhead)
  6.   30.3 km (18.8 mi)  Gain  2,279 m (7,477 ft)  Loss 1,647 m (5,404 ft)
    (Asgaard Pass, Enchantments upper basin)
    Total stats
    134 km (83.3 mi)  Gain  7,897 m (25,909 ft)  Loss 7,555 m (24,787 ft)

Physically, this was a challenging backpacking trip.  There were lots of up and down.  (I’ll add a map and elevation profile once I process my GPS recordings.)  The first two days, I was experiencing nausea and fatigue, these were side effects of receiving a shingles vaccination the day before we started the trio. Also, my backpacking style is old school with almost no ultralight equipment.  I started out with a pack weight of 18 kg (39 pounds).

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One big lesson learned is to convert myself to ultralight backpacking. Lucky for me Roger and Linda are experts that can help me.

Mentally, this trip let me explore the flora and fauna of the Cascade mountains. The more I observe, the more I want to know.  This quote is often on my mind: “Each one of us adds a little to our understanding of Nature, and from all the facts assembled arises a certain grandeur.” – Aristotle as quoted by Bradford Washburn.

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Shasta Fern (Polystichum lemmonii) on Paddy Go Easy Pass

Emotionally, there were some ups and downs for me. The first couple of days I felt awful, seriously thought of turning around and walking back out.  I think my ultrarunning experience gave me some added emotional resilience to keep going.  Also, when we decided we needed another day on the trail, there were some challenges communication the delay to my wife. Eventually, I was pretty certain I got a text message out. Also, I asked a couple of folks driving away from  trailheads along the way to call her, happy to say that both of them did this!

There were some real ups as well, such as looking back from slogging up Asgaard Pass and seeing beautiful Colchuck Lake or sauntering trough the wildflowers on the Meadow Creek trail. It made me appreciate my place in the Universe.

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Colchuck Lake from Asgaard Pass
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wildflowers on the Meadow Creek trail

Many thanks to the  designer of this excellent 2018 UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge route  and for Linda and Roger putting up with my grumpiness when I was sick the first couple of days.

 

Easy Pass UPWC 28-29 July 2018

With a name like Easy Pass, it must be easy… perhaps in a relative sense.

Summary

On 28 July 2018 I set out with my friends Linda, Roger and Rob on my third UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge EasyPass.  We fastpacked the route, starting at Easy Pass trailhead and camping overnight at Junction camp. We finished the next day at Colonial Creek campground. My elapsed time was 28 hours 51 minutes. Overall, it was a wonderful 40 km trip, despite hot weather and a plethora of flies.

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Easy Pass to Colonial Creek Route

Easy Pass route

Details

We set out from the Easy Pass trail at 8:01 AM on 28 July.

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Intrepid UltraPedestrians John, Linda, Roger and Rob

Our route up the Easy Pass Trail climbed up steeply for about 6 km, until we reached  2100 meter Easy Pass. Near the top, there was an observation camera from the Cascade Carnivores project; situated to look for wolverines, martens and other rare carnivores.

After a nice rest and a bit of exploring at Easy Pass, we headed down switchbacks  into Fischer Basin. During the day, I made more than 40 botanical observations.  This entire section had some spectacular views.

Had a nice brekky and some great views of the mountains.  Around 8 Am, we started descending down the Thunder Creek trail. The forest ecology during the descent was quite different and I made about 30 botanical observations on 29 July.

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Thunder Creek was raging
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Looking East from Easy Pass
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Looking West from Easy Pass

As we walked through the Fischer Creek basin we moved from alpine to  meadow and then forest ecosystems.

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Fischer Basin alpine meadow descending from Easy Pass
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Forest Ecosystem

About 2 km east of Junction Camp we encountered a gnarly section of trail. There was a poor run-out if one should slip and the trail was eroding as we walked on it. Looking back, we light have been better to climb up and around this segment.

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We reached Junction Camp, having walked about 23 km from the Easy Pass trailhead. Along the way, we took a number of breaks due to the heat. I didn’t bring a thermometer but I’d estimate it was more than 31 degrees. I had a leisurely dinner and a good nights rest. I borrowed a bear vault from the Parks Service to store my food.  (Concerned about bears and other creatures getting into my food).

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Mountain View from Junction Camp, maybe Tricouni Peak, with hanging glacier?

Had a nice brekky and some great views of the mountains.  Around 8 Am, we started descending down the Thunder Creek trail. The forest ecology during the descent was quite different and I made about 30 botanical observations on 29 July.

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Forest ecology on Thunder Creek trail

I was out at the Colonial Creek trailhead at 12:51 PM, elapsed time was 28 hours 51 minutes.  Overall, this was a great two day fastpack trip and another fun UltraPedestrian Wilderness Challenge. Not running allowed me to observe the ecology closely while enjoying the company of three excellent companions. Next UPWC trio is Alpine Lakes Grand Tour starting on 2 August 2018, 4 days after the Easy Pass challenge.

Lessons Learned

  1.  First time using Gaia app on my phone.  Gaia worked well and I was able to download .gpx and .kml files.
  2. Decided to use a bear vault, added several pounds of weight. My base weight was about 11 kg. without food and water. I am going to lighten up a bit for nest backpack.
  3. Brought a battery pack and was able to recharge my phone. Unfortunately, forgot the correct adapter for my camera so my photos were mostly lower quality cell phone images. I had been hoping to obtain some high quality macro images with my new Olympus TG-5 camera.
  4. Instant mashed potatoes are delicious.
  5. Made sure to keep drinking plenty of water with electrolytes, I felt great on this hike.