Friday, January 27, 2017

Covell Creek Falls Trail

 Went down to the Covell Creek Trail to hike the Angel Falls Loop Trail and to see if we could make it up to the Burley Mountain Lookout. There are several crisscrossing trails, some that are not on our maps. We completed the Angel Falls Loop, but did not make it up to the Burley Mountain Lookout or to the road heading to Burley Mountain due to time constraints and the amount of unbroken snow. Overall we hiked about 9 miles and gained 1,400+ ft in elevation.
The trail starts across from the Cispus Environmental Learning Center. It begins in the forest along the Cispus Braille Trail. This is a circular trail with a rope going around the inside of the trail. We choose to head to the right and ended up taking the second trail that broke off to the right. (I thin the first trail that broke off to the right would have been easier to follow up to the falls today). At some point we passed a covered pavilion and some how ended up on a boot track that took us up to a forest service road. We backtracked down to the pavilion and saw where a foot bridge had been wiped out and a makeshift crossing was on the water. We crossed over and joined the main trail up to the Angel Falls Loop trail.
 There were some areas of snow and ice along the lower sections of the trail, but did not need to use traction.
 The trail crosses over Covell Creek on a nice log bridge.
 And then the trail begins to ascend up the hill.
 There were many small falls or drops of water along Covell Creek.
 These were of various sizes.
 When we reached the loop trail, we choose to go right towards Covell Creek Falls, which is encountered almost immediately. This waterfall has a 75 ft drop and the trail goes behind the falls.

View from behind Covell Creek Falls

 The trail continues up hill, looking back down at Covell Creek Falls.
 About 1/2 mile beyond Covell Creek Falls, the loop trail heads off to the left and the trail up to Burley Mountain goes to the right. We headed up on the Burley Mountain trail. We followed tracks in the snow until the stopped and began to post hole. When we realized we would need to put on our snowshoes and still had several miles of hiking and 2,600 ft of elevation to gain while breaking trail. We knew we'd be returning in the dark on a steep icy trail, so decided to turn around and continue to the Angel Falls Loop Trail.
 We had some peek a boo views of snow covered ridges through the trees.
 Angel Falls has a 150 ft drop.

 The trail soon crossed Covell Creek again. There is another falls (Bridal Veil Falls) 300ft up this creek on a boot path. We went maybe 100 ft up the creek, but could not find the boot path under the snow, nor a way to continue up the creek without getting very wet, so we returned tot he main trail.

The trail levels out for a while through the forest.

 There was lots of lovely moss on the trees.
 We found quite a bit of snow on this section of the trail, but it was not very deep and was well packed down.
After a while there was another fork in the trail. The trail to the right (I believe) leads back to a forest road. We continued on the trail to the left, which was the falls loop trail.
 There was some nice fungi along the trail.

We soon realized why the loop trail had extend so far out towards the east, when we were heading back to the west. This 1/2 mile section of the trail lies at the bottom of a large rocky cliff that extends all the way back to Covell Creek Falls. This section of the trail goes up and down.

 We saw some free standing ice that stood close to the cliffs edge,
 these made lovely ice sculptures.

There were some sections eroded away at the base of the rocky cliff.

 Some mini caves.

On the way back down, we choose to take some of the other trails that crossed our path before returning back to the trailhead.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Snowshoe near Hex Mountain

Headed out north of Roslyn to snowshoe up to Hex Mountain. We missed one of the turns off the forest road on the hike and ended up snowshoeing up and down some of the ridges west of Hex Mountain. Beautiful day to be our snowshoeing. Estimate we went about 8 miles with 2,000+ ft of elevation gain.
The route starts by heading up FS 116, which is open only to logging vehicles in the winter. The road gains elevation from the beginning. We saw deer and a bunch of turkeys.
 There was so much beauty with a variety of trees dusted with snow.
More than a mile up the road, there is a turnoff to an unmaintained logging road that is the way to go to the summer trailhead. On the way out we discovered that very recently a large berm of snow had been plowed in froth of this road hiding the tracks on the other side.
 We ended up hiking over 2 miles up the road when we met some loggers. They let us know we had gone way past the turnoff, but that a short ways back there were tracks going up another ridge, that we could go up and over and eventually reach Hex Mountain. We decided to give it a try. We did not need our snowshoes until heading up the ridge.
 We did get some nice views of Cle Ellum Lake from this extended road walk.
Pano view overlooking Cle Ellum Lake from the first ridge we snowshoed up.

More views from the first ridge.

 Looking over toward the next ridge
 We found some fairly recent tracks that wandered around on old logging roads.
 Lots of pretty trees
 I think these were turkey prints, there were quite large.

Lots of loverly trees.

As this trail continued to climb up the next ridge, we had some great views of Cle Ellum Lake

 This second ridge we were on looked as if it dropped down a little then continued to climb to what I believe is Hex Mountain. We didn't have enough time to continue towards Hex Mountain and get back to the car in the daylight, but decided to follow some old indentations along the old road below to loop back down toward the original road.

 Eventually as we worked our way down we found the summer trailhead to Hex Mountain. Want to come back another day, to go up the correct trail!

Watched the clouds continue to roll in as we hiked out. Great day!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Ranger Falls and Green Lake Winter Hike

 Several of us decided to go on the same hike where we met each other a year ago: to Ranger Falls and Green Lake at the Carbon River Entrance at Mt Rainier National Park. This is a 9.6 mile hike with 1,100 ft of elevation gain.
A year ago on this hike there were many downed trees on the road that we had to climb over, under and around where possible. A month ago, I did this hike and there was lots of ice and snow. Today, there were some large patches of ice on the road section, and mixed snow and bare patches on the trail up to Ranger Falls and Green Lake. We did not need snow shoes today.
 Small patches of ice along the rocks, lots of melting has happened in the last week or so.
 Carbon River
 Tirzah Peak
 lots of lovely moss on the trees
 Trail heading up to Ranger Falls
 Ranger Falls, no ice and lots of water
 Trail up to Green Lake, the snow was well packed down, as long as you stayed in the center.
 Less than a foot of snow on the log bridge.
Pano of Green Lake, Tolmie Peak in the far distance.

 Lots of interesting stumps and mossy covered roots and downed trees in the forest.