10/29/2011 – Wash Creek Exploration

Date of Hike: 10/29/2011
Location of Hike: Wash Creek Basin
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 6:00 PM
Hike Distance: 13.4 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
A truly epic hike. The weather was absolutely fantastic, although we did get very wet due to the brushiness of the “trail” (an old road that was decommissioned after the ’96 floods). It was one of the most grueling hikes I’ve ever done, probably only topped by one back in 2009 where I did more mileage on normal trails with more elevation gain.
Looking at our task ahead of us:

The first 7 miles was pretty much tough bushwhacking through young alders most of the way. The old roads are REALLY getting overgrown – and most of the places you couldn’t even see the gravel anymore. The duff is starting to build up and ferns, etc are starting to grow in the old road. The alders were the biggest problem, though. The road started out with sort of a track, but that quickly disappeared. The good news is that since we decided to do a shuttle hike, we were going downhill all the way, starting at about 4100′ and finishing at about 1200′ . One of the questions for this hike was whether or not we would have to do an out and back hike of if we could do a thru hike (which was shorter). By about the 5 mile mark, we decided we were going to get across the creek no matter what – we weren’t going to to and out and back! Fortunately, there was a really big log over the river which made a perfect bridge.

That turned over bridge was an absolutely amazing sight. One end of the bridge was actually twisted upside down! The bridge broke at one end and twisted. Absolutely incredible.

We had a late lunch there, dried out our feet and changed socks and then continued on. The next mile to the next bridge was probably the toughest since there were lots of downed trees over the road, some of them really tough to get around. By the time we got to the bridge at the confluence of Fish and Wash creeks, we were pretty tired. We had taken a lot longer than we planned, but from then on, the track was pretty good – it was like a 4 lane superhighway compared to what we had done before! We made great time back to the vehicle at the north end, but it was almost 6:00 – two hours later than we had planned – and we still had 2 1/2 hours of driving ahead of us. We got to my truck just after dark and turned around – driving on forest service roads in the dark isn’t fun! We missed a turn and had to figure out where we missed it. We finally figured it out and got on the road back. It was about 22 miles up narrow, winding gravel roads, with several turns along the way. Interestingly enough, most of those roads are in pretty good shape – there was even a section of a mile or so that is still paved! I ended up getting home about 9pm – a 13 hour day. I was exhausted but we had a good time, and seeing that turned over bridge was worth all the effort. I’ll be paying the price for the next few days, though.

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