It has been a while since I’ve had an opportunity to take a seat and write: days have been elbow deep in sick youngsters, hysterical Portland snow and plenty of work pushing my business, Cnoc Outside, to the subsequent step. Due to all this, I additionally did not even go climbing, however I nonetheless have a lingering taste from my final in a single day journey: Eagle Creek in winter snow. This trip was a mixture of two things I had needed to do for some time: backpacking in Eagle Creek, and winter backpacking (solo). I need to go over those two factors before somewhat journey report:
Eagle Creek Path
Eagle Creek might be one of the famous and fashionable hikes in Oregon (if not the entire PNW) and because of that, one of the busiest. Making an attempt to do an in a single day journey right here is never a deal with in case you are on the lookout for some peace and quiet. The trail starts (or ends) at the Eagle Creek trailhead, just off the I-84, and heads north till assembly the PCT close to Lake Wahtum. One of the best and most precise path description that I have found comes from the Forest Service:
This path begins at Eagle Creek Campground and ends at Wahtum Lake. From Eagle Creek Overlook (120’) the path climbs progressively southeast following Eagle Creek. After 2 miles the trail reaches spectacular Punch Bowl Falls (500’), where water spills 100 ft right into a blue-green pool set in a big grotto. The trail continues following Eagle Creek beneath heavy forest 1.6 miles to Excessive Bridge (560’), which traverses the gorge 150 ft above the creek. From Excessive Bridge the path heads southeast 1.4 miles, enters the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, and continues 0.4 mile to the junction with Eagle Benson Path #434. From the junction the path climbs 0.eight mile to Tunnel Falls (1,240’), the place the path passes by way of a tunnel behind a bathe of falling water. Continuing along Eagle Creek, the trail heads due south 1.6 miles to the junction with Eagle Tanner Trail #433 (1,560’). The path leaves Eagle Creek at this junction and heads northeast. The trail climbs round a ridge above East Fork Eagle Creek after 2 miles and begins to turn south. 0.1 mile after turning south, the path reaches the junction with Indian Springs Trail #435 (2,560’). Turn left (east) to remain on #440 and continue climbing 6 miles to the paths end at the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail #2000 close to Wahtum Lake (Three,800’). Comply with #2000 along the south shore of Wahtum Lake to succeed in the parking area close to Wahtum Lake Campground.
Eagle Creek Trail #440, Mt. Hood National Forest, USDA Forest Service
If you wish to plan a visit along this trail, Oregon Hikers have an excellent number of advisable trails that start on the Eagle Creek trailhead – simply comply with the links.
The rationale that it’s such a well-liked path is the mixture of quick access along the I-84 (45 minutes drive from Portland), a reasonably straight forward path on the ground and an abundance of waterfalls alongside the best way. The highlights are the cliff drops in the first couple of miles (above and under), Punch Bowl Falls, High Bridge, Tunnel falls, Twister falls and lots of different smaller (some un-named) waterfalls alongside the best way. This reputation brings concerning the full range of hikers on the path, a combine of outside fanatics, Instagrammers, vacationers, dog walkers, trail runners and even dirty thru-hikers off the PCT for a break – it really is assorted.
I had by no means really, really been out backpacking in deep snow: I grew up in Israel (aka, no snow) and moved from there to London. The few winter trips I had have been in northern England when there was never much snow and in my travels I all the time camped under snow degree, so I used to be eager to attempt it. This yr (winter 2016-17), noticed more snow than the standard in Oregon, so it was the right time to attempt it. I needed to test my comfort degree and kit to see how adjustable I might be in snow and really chilly circumstances.
It was, for me, an opportunity to also check a new sleeping pad I’m creating for my firm and sleeping on snow was the right testing surroundings.
For some actually good reads about winter backpacking, I like Paul Magnanti’s publish about winter backpacking – it’s comprehensive and clear. As an entire, there’s not a lot to do to move from Three seasons to Four seasons preparedness: thicker clothing and sleeping bag for the static time, higher insulation from the bottom (sleeping pad and boots) and that is about it, perhaps a couple of more energy and some more leisure for the lengthy darkish nights.
Backpacking Eagle Creek in winter
My unique trip plan was to drive as much as Wahtum Lake trailhead simply above Hood River, hike 5-6 miles to Benson plateau, set camp and explore about with a lot of time for photograph capturing and testing gear. I set off on my journey after dropping the youngsters at nursery, driving our normal VW Sportswagon – not a winter-ready automotive in any means – and once I reached the last street to the trailhead, I discovered Four ft of snow on the street so I had to change my plan. I rotated and headed to the Eagle Creek trailhead. I lastly managed to park, fill my allow ($5 to park your automotive) and begin walking at 11:30 – later than deliberate.
The trail began muddy and icy at occasions but principally clear and straightforward to stroll. I had my Kathoola Nanospikes on they usually worked perfectly over my Inov8s on the combined path. The walk to Punch Bowl Falls was very simple: clear and vast path with many individuals nonetheless occupying it, a couple of icy patches the place water was dripping down from the cliffs above the path, but apart from that a simple and cozy forest walk. From Punch Bowl (I didn’t go right down to the base) the snow acquired a bit deeper but was still patchy; you might see the place the accumulation from the wind and the shortage of daylight would make it deeper afterward if it snowed. I continued at a less brisk tempo, having fun with the new trail and the superb falls along the best way, assembly fewer and fewer hikers (which also means the ones I did encounter have been friendlier). A bit additional on, simply past Metlako Falls, the bridge over Tish Creek have been damaged on account of heavy rains in spring 2016, which meant that previous that bridge I used to be in all probability going to be by myself.
Crossing Tish bridge rigorously because it was a mixture of wet, icy and rocky, I managed to get one foot wet (and all of the sudden realized I forgot my Goretex liners). Simply on the other aspect, I met a gaggle of elderly hikers getting back from Tunnel falls, all of whom had traction units. After that group I had the trail just about to myself, wading via 2-3 ft of snow that was part pressed and part powder, seeing semi-frozen falls and snow-heavy timber. At elements where the path naturally is slender and probably slippery, the snow had amassed, making for a really slender area to stroll on the inside of the trail (close to the cliffs) where another person had already created steps. Using the railings which are bolted to the rock and my spikes, I managed to cross a few these sections and decided to improve my traction system to the Pogu Path Ice Spikes. After the change I felt extra confident on the trail, passing the high bridge and moving into deeper snow. Simply earlier than getting into the Hatfield Wilderness I met a young Russian man who seemed a bit misplaced and unprepared for the world, it was about 14:30 so I sent him back the 5.5 miles to the trailhead to ensure he didn’t get lost in the dark.
From there it was once more a combined path of mud and snow up to Tunnel falls, straightforward strolling in the dropping temperatures of the afternoon – the trail was empty. Tunnel falls are superb and I had to stroll rigorously because of the chunks of ice across the tunnel’s entrance and exit. After turning the curve I ended for a bit to admire the falls and take a couple of footage and observed that I had began dropping feeling in my ft, not a good signal. Right after the falls there’s one other small stream and from here it was virgin snow all for me, the footprints having disappeared and I needed to break path. The forest obtained darker and I stored on pushing it, wondering if I might make it to Benson. I walked further till about 16:00, reaching the junction with path #433 and realizing I wouldn’t get to the highest in such deep snow (it was about 4-6 ft by then), so I rotated to look for the 7.5 mile camp website.
The location is a relatively small one that, in summer time, gets full very early; however that night time it was utterly empty. I set up my Trailstar, obtained my gear out and made Three or 4 cups of green tea to heat up and wash down the biscuits. With no cell reception, I opted to only develop into my heat tights and socks and leap into my sleeping bag. I shortly found that my sleeping bag wouldn’t be as warm as I wanted it to be (improve needed) and that my check mat needs more insulation. Fortunately I additionally had a Thermarest Z-lite Sol with me. It was a quiet night time of some star gazing, studying, dinner and extra studying. I had a quiet and peaceful night time in the snow, and regardless of the need for a warmer bag, slept soundly (new mother and father all the time do…).
The morning was cold however sunny so I shortly packed up, had a quick coffee and power bar and was on my means again. The sun was shining by way of and the path was much icier than the day before, with the world around Twister falls being pretty much a sheet of ice. I encountered the primary hikers round Punch Bowl Falls and had a chat with a few locals a bit additional on, about a huge chunk of land that obtained swept away in the final storm: the lookout to Metlako falls is gone.
After this chat I used to be primarily targeted on attending to the automotive and heading residence: I used to be hungry and in need of extra coffee. A bit earlier than returning to the trailhead, the trail is slender with sheer cliffs under and above the trail. This can be a lovely part of the trail where you have to walk underneath the dripping water, making it magical and really, very cold when icy. That morning the whole part was one lengthy ice sheet and it prevented a great number of hikers and walkers reaching the falls. I made my method easily to discover a human visitors jam from the ice to the trailhead. With the Pogu spikes on, I simply easily overtook the sluggish (and unprepared) hikers to seek out my automotive sitting patiently and absolutely coated in a thick layer of frost. After a bit of scraping with the bottom plate of my compass (multi-use!), I used to be off to house.
All and all I had a terrific experience, having fun with Eagle Creek primarily to myself and getting to do some winter backpacking in a relatively protected area. I used a mixture of printed maps from Caltopo (you’ll be able to download the PDF right here) and saving the pdfs on my telephone – this mix worked properly.
Don’t miss another submit -get it to your inbox! Join posts updates (and some extras)
and get access to some of the unique guides I wrote.
Sign up to get the subsequent submit
Right here’s somewhat bonus, a video from the journey: