Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edge

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Chip Down
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Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edge

Post by Chip Down » December 3rd, 2017, 8:22 pm

From Carpenters "Lake" (end of Dick Thomas trail) followed abandoned road to Greenleaf Creek. From there, to get to the cliffs above me to the northwest, I walked southwest. Well, sure, why not? I didn't mean to go so far SW. Severely misjudged due to virtually zero visibility and failure to carefully study map before departing.

Dropped below the road/trail to explore mossy rocky scenery, then back up to road, and followed a bonus road, in very good shape, through a rockslide zone. Lots of work went into this road, but it goes nowhere. There's almost no logging opportunities, and the road has to dead end because of terrain. Sure enough, it ended abruptly. Unable to see where I was going, I followed clearings, generally headed NE, and was surprised to find another road laboriously built through the rocky slope. Followed it, because, you know, had to. Dead end both ways. Again, ascended with a route based on best scenery and apparent best opportunity to get somewhere interesting. Came to a mossy rocky lightly-forested dome. Hmm. Thought I knew where I was headed, but this dome didn't look right.

Clouds parted for a minute, and I could see I was below cliffs. My heart sank. What now? because of poor visibility, I had to walk along base of cliffs to get a better look. Only possibility was to follow the only apparent lower-angle escape, where trees were actually growing. Would that route get me to the top of the cliffs? No way to know, can't see more than a hundred yards. Time to assess situation: never been here before, can't see where I'm at or where I'm going, starting to snow, I can see snow accumulated above (suspected as much, which is why I aborted my plan to drive up to Greenleaf for a higher start in known terrain), snow depth above unknown, wind, rain (hasn't stopped since I left the car), six hours til sunset, fighting a respiratory infection. Okay, time to accept failure before this turns into a SAR situation.

Walk back was nice, got to see the scenery I missed out on when I was walking up in the dark. Rain finally stopped when I came to the pipeline road (bottom of Dick Thomas trail). Walked up to the powerline road and sat down on a concrete footing. First chance to sit all day, first time out of rain all day. Nice views over to Beacon and up the gorge to the east. No snow up on Munra or Wauna Point (the higher one).

Poked around a bit, but rain started again, and it was less than an hour to sunset, so I walked back to my car.

I carried a couple ropes (ballast) and an axe (brush snagger). If I had left them behind, I could have carried my smaller lighter simpler pack, which is better for rainy days.

Really disappointed and frustrated this didn't work out, but not as much as you might imagine. It's December, weather happens. And it was fun looking at the map when I got home. Shocking how far off I was. And funny that the route I was considering taking up the cliffs would have put me at the saddle north of the two chiefs. Imagine the state I'd be in when I got up there and realized where I was, way over on the other cliff edge!
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Lines marked with yellow dots are roads I folowed. North and middle are clear, and will likely persist for years to come. South road is getting brushy, I didn't follow it far. Note the red dots west of Mossy Dome. That's the ascent route I was considering, into the cloudy unknown. In reality, my goal was to the northeast.
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Greenleaf crossing. It just goes on and on!
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Exploring mossy viewpoints below trail, a bit before the Greenleaf Creek crossing. This was the best weather of the day, with the exception of the utility road close to my car as sunset approached. The rain didn't stop here, but I could see blue in spots.
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High point at right is Red Bluffs, source of the Greenleaf Slide. Low point in middle is Greenleaf Falls.
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and more
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The first unexpected road I followed.
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Oops. This is where I realized I had done something very wrong. Interesting to ponder what I would have done here if the clouds hadn't parted, showing how far off I was.
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Weather deteriorated even more as I started my descent.

cfm
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by cfm » December 4th, 2017, 8:06 am

I love that area, it seems otherworldly. There are quite a few old roads up there, what for, I don't know. Also strange is the large number of cottonwoods on those slopes. Watch out for rockfall. It can be darn noisy with rocks popping off those cliffs when the sun hits them during the cool seasons.

You can climb up to Heartbreak Ridge through that notch where your red dots are, there is a little chimney. Haven't done it myself, but my pals did. They had to remove their packs to fit through and haul them up afterwards.

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by Eric Peterson » December 7th, 2017, 7:15 am

DN went up that chimney back in '11. That is around the area where Catherine Heuther fell off, here is a old TR and maybe a DN video of climbing the chimney:

https://www.oregonhikers.org/forum/view ... f=8&t=8312

Please don't necromance that TR :)

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by Don Nelsen » December 7th, 2017, 5:26 pm

Eric Peterson wrote:DN went up that chimney back in '11. That is around the area where Catherine Heuther fell off, here is a old TR and maybe a DN video of climbing the chimney:

https://www.oregonhikers.org/forum/view ... f=8&t=8312

Please don't necromance that TR :)
Eric, Thanks for linking that old TR! Really brings back some great memories. It has been way too long since we've gone on a hike together. Let's get something planned!

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by Eric Peterson » December 8th, 2017, 9:10 am

I'll try to get a Warden pass - I get 1 or 2 days of yard time a year now...

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by Don Nelsen » December 8th, 2017, 9:34 am

Eric Peterson wrote:I'll try to get a Warden pass - I get 1 or 2 days of yard time a year now...
Only 1 or 2 days a year? :roll: I'm heading out somewhere tomorrow, would that work? Archer maybe or Prindle, or Hardy Ridge - maybe even Table Mt.

dn

PS, Chip: Thanks for another great TR! You've got me enthused about Table Mt. again.
"Everything works in the planning stage".

bushwhacker
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by bushwhacker » December 13th, 2017, 4:58 pm

So who maintains the trails in the Table Mt area? There is new signage now (doesn't look like standard FS signage) and freshly cut trees. Reason I ask it that all that hard work clearing the trees from some of those old roads that are now used as trails has opened them up to atv's and dirt bikes. I noticed atv tracks back during hunting season and someone road a dirt bike last weekend up the old road past Carpenters Lake and up past the PCT junction. Seems like leaving a few well placed trees that have fallen and can't be ridden around would be a good thing.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Table Mt: another fun failure looking for east cliff edg

Post by Don Nelsen » December 13th, 2017, 5:10 pm

bushwhacker wrote:So who maintains the trails in the Table Mt area? There is new signage now (doesn't look like standard FS signage) and freshly cut trees. Reason I ask it that all that hard work clearing the trees from some of those old roads that are now used as trails has opened them up to atv's and dirt bikes. I noticed atv tracks back during hunting season and someone road a dirt bike last weekend up the old road past Carpenters Lake and up past the PCT junction. Seems like leaving a few well placed trees that have fallen and can't be ridden around would be a good thing.
I think it is the ATV folks that do the clearing. I pick up what I can but I hardly make a dent compared with what's needed due to constant tree and branch falls. A huge amount of work has been done since the ice storms of last winter. Another possibility is the sheriff dept: Whenever there is a SAR operation, they need those roads to get in there to search more effectively. I've yet to see evidence of an ATV on an actual trail, just on the old logging road grades. In Skamania Co. I don't think that's forbidden activity.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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