Hello all, some buddies and I have been mostly lurking for months and finally went on our much anticipated hiking trip to your beautiful neck of the woods and before time slips away wanted to say thank you and give a quick trip report for some beginner/intermediate hikers tackling the loop. The info and resources here were invaluable for our planning. Our trip was fairly similar to Whitelegs&Rednecks overall I would say. We mostly used a foretrex 401 watch and green trails map for nav. We took quite a few inadvertent side adventures along the way, but always course corrected well after realizing...it was part of the fun! I would say that some parts of the trail are clear and well-indicated while others not super well marked. I do really appreciate all of the maintenance that was obvious along the way. My watch gave us 48 miles of credit and 11,800 climbing for the trip.
Weather: little hot, but seemed a lot better than portland! Also, the smoke/haze affected the mountain views a little, but I think we were mostly above the worst of it (although another hiker was coughing a bit from it).
Mosquitoes/Flies: Much less than we anticipated! Really no mosquitoes or biting flies the whole trip! While stopped in certain places, flies did what they do, but wasn't a big problem.
Crowds: very low, passed a couple sets of people a day on average. very comfortable.
Crossings: They blur together...Sandy was first challenge. We went up stream a ways and found flat part to wet shoes across...felt the current some for sure, but really not that bad. Overall, I think we used water shoes 3 times and had a few interesting log walks/rock jumps over rough waters, but just took our time and got the job done...we got more and more confidence going forward. A note of caution: although we crossed fine, the crossings were the most dangerous part of the hike with risk involved and one misstep could be costly on a couple of them.
Three of us met in Oregon on the 31st, got to lodge early and day hiked abt 45 minutes each direction and stayed a short night. All coming from East coast, we took off at 4:45am on the 1st Clockwise. Hit blow down before P-Park but they weren't too bad and there were pretty clear detours when necessary. We went up P-Park trail (778) since we heard 757 was rough and had no problems. After Sandy we apparently missed the trail and ended up walking around for a while before coming to an intersection and making the correct turn to get going again. Muddy Fork area was first goal for the day, but it was still early and we pressed on. We went the long way by Bald mountain and with the climb to wards McNeil were starting to feel the day pretty well! We got the the first camp site (on right, another was into woods on left). just before a meadow before the 625 intersection and called it a day around 4:45pm. Great site next to good water. My buddy pushed himself pretty hard that first day and had some trouble eating/moving much...discussed plans for exit strategies if needed, paced ourselves more going forward and he got stronger as we found better rhythm with drinking/resting.
Wednesday we set off at 7am towards Cloud Cap. Day started off with a few wrong turns. We were confused that we somehow came to the Timberline/Mazama T-intersection from the Mazama segment (still not sure how), and then accidentally went up an unmarked trail towards McNeil point (we were thrown off bc the sign going forward said McNeil Point Trail, so took other way)...then Cairn Basin, and onward...New Eliot trail was dusty, crossing was fine, dragged my friend up the hill towards Cloud Cap and rolled in at 2:20 with a promise to rest the rest of the day! Camp sites are huge and two groups (solo and pair) going same way ended up sharing site 4 with us, which was fun. Nice water and outhouse!
Thursday, a little rested and ready for a climb, set off at 6:45am. Got a little tough to keep trail in the rocks and ended up climbing up to the right and getting on a ridge trail that was moving parallel. It was beautiful and I was really liking that the T-line trail went up there until we hit an intersection and took our time to figure out that we weren't on the right path. Turns out is was East Moraine Trail maybe. Anyway, we took the path to the left and soon saw the Cooper Spur Shelter so got our bearings. Snow crossings weren't bad, but I hurt knee a little on one and we lost path after another (the longest one) and ended up backtracking a bit, seeing some small cairns to follow, and finding the trail a little lower down. Sometimes following footsteps you realize others don't always take the right path either! Along Gnarl ridge, we stopped at one of two really cool looking tree shelters...magical looking place. Took a nice break at the stream after Newton Creek and the solo and pair from the campground both caught us there and we all took a nice break. After pressing on, we ended up stopping at I think the last site before White river a little after Mitchell creek (about 4:00pm). We thought about finishing, would have been very doable, but the downhills were really hurting my knee and we thought White River might be easier in morn. Nice site, but small. There is stream there but it's a little rusty looking and I went back abt 0.2 miles to Mitchell for water to be safe. Of note, we passed 0 people coming towards us all day. Just the 3 others moving our way. I guess the heatwave kept people inside.
Friday, 6:50am start, 2 hours to Lodge, and a huge buffet breakfast at Cascade (yum!). I didn't mind the last climb...much better climber than descender (I'm the worst descender in our group easily).
It was beautiful and an adventure well worth having! I took lots of pictures, but haven't looked at them yet to be honest with travel and back at work. We loved the wildflowers and berries! I don't know 'peak' but it sure looked something like that. It smelled so nice everywhere. We were lucky it wasn't rainy or too buggy. Navigating/camping through storms with the map and such would have made life much more difficult. Thanks for sharing!
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