Archive for June, 2010

Tiger — Grand Canyon of Fifteenmile Creek

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

I returned to Fifteenmile creek in the sunlight, so that I could more fully enjoy it (see previous trip).  I had two objectives: to use a pair of clippers to clear away some of the thorns and brush from the overgrown section of the trail, and to explore beyond the turnoff point I had reached last time.

I started early, and had the trail to myself.  I made slow progress since there was a lot to chop down.  I tried to do as thorough a job as I had the patience for.  I could see that most of the brush had previously been trimmed about where I was cutting it: I wonder how many years it took the trail to grow in?  Although it was not raining, everything was wet anyway.  I think the canyon is so steep it rarely gets enough sun to dry out.

Giant Lump of Coal

The trail is washed out, having cut into the side wall forming a cliff.  The only way is down, across the creek, across again, and back up.  The stream follows a yellow band of very slippery, smooth rock, making it hard to get any traction.  I managed to fall step in over my ankle at the first crossing, soaking one shoe and sock.  Oh well, press on.

Slowly I progressed up the trail, until suddenly I was at the turnoff.  The way forward, after the immediate narrow V was passed, was along the stream bottom.  I was able to put away the clippers — good thing since I had developed a painful blister on my ring finger.  At first I tried to cross on the rocks, but after falling in a few times and getting thoroughly wet up to the knees I stopped trying and just stepped in the water when I needed to.  The stream continued to flow over very slippery , very smoothly polished rock, and footing was often best in the stream bed itself.

Fifteen Mile Creek Stream Bed

Canyon Floor

We came to a series of waterfalls and narrow sections, what required a little scrambling.  Danny needed help a few times, but overall he was very skilled at getting himself up the stream.  Eventually we came to a waterfall that just looked impossible.   Looking at the picture now it doesn’t look at all head, and it wouldn’t be if there was any traction on the smooth stone.  I was able to backtrack a little ways and find a way up the hillside.  I was tempted to try to descend back down to the stream bed above the falls, but time was running short and I needed to get back.  So I continued on up the hill until I met the railroad bed trail.  About half way up to the trail I ran across a little section that had been marked with orange flags.  I could not figure out where it was heading, and did not succeed in following it very far.  Maybe it was heading back the creek.  Something to check out next time.

Upper Falls

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Anette Lake

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

This gem of a lake is located a few miles south of I90, but seems worlds away.  The trail crosses the impressive Humpback Creek, then crosses under power lines and then the old rail bed, but from then on all signs of civilization are gone.  The trail is well built, with many switchbacks but not many rocky or excessively steep places.  The first sight of Humpback mountain across the valley made everyone stop and take a photo: most of the way is through dense forest.

Humpback Mountain

Eventually the trail levels out and descends to the lake, which was still frozen.

Anette Lake with Humpback Ridge

We got an early start(9:30) and were at the lake by 11:30.  We didn’t see many people on the way up, but bythe time we had eaten lunch and were headed back down, there was a steady stream of hikers on the trail.

I hiked this with a congenial group from the Bellevue Hikers Meetup Group.  We all had a good time, on the first really nice sunny day of the season.

Lunch at Anette Lake

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Talapus and Olallie Lakes

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

After another week of solid rain, there was predicted to be a single day of nice weather, so I jumped at the chance to get out.  I was thinking of McClellan Butte, but I opted for something less strenuous: Talapus Lake.  I am glad I did.

There were a handful of cars at the trailhead, but not as many as I expected.  I did not have the trail to myself, but I did not feel crowded either, like on Mt Si or Rattlesnake Ledges.  The trail was indeed only moderately uphill, and I found myself at Talapus Lake in 30 minutes, long before I was expecting it.  There was a party camping at the spot by the creek, so I pressed on up the trail.

Talapus Lake

There were occasional patches of snow, then more and more as I approached Olallie Lake.  Lots of water — many creeks pouring into the lake, down the trails, making everything nice and slippery.

I circled around the lake on the snow, which was made difficult being tethered to the dog.  I saw a few others with dogs, but all leashed up, so I guess the wilderness is serious about their rule.  I was tempted to go on up the trail, but with the dog, I decided it just wasn’t worth it.

Olallie Lake

So I headed back down, making this a relaxing day exploring the fringes of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.

Skunk Cabbage

Talapus Trail

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