Hamilton Creek RR grade, return on PCT

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Hamilton Creek RR grade, return on PCT

Post by Chip Down » December 17th, 2017, 12:26 am

Followed Cedar Creek down to the "winter crossing", then down to the falls. Explored various trails: one to bottom of falls (expected), one to Cedar/Hamilton confluence (unexpected). Then picked a trail that I figured would take me to the Hamilton RR grade, and it did. By the time I finally joined the RR grade at the "big slide", it was already running late.

Following the RR grade up, was anxious about slides/drainages, which I had heard were treacherous. Brought ropes, even though I had read there were lines in place. At the first roped crossing, I was relieved. Didn't use the rope (too proud). Same at the second. Third was a bit trickier, but I made it without using the rope. Made note of time. Didn't want to cross back after sunset.

Was thinking I'd follow Hamilton Creek and the RR to the powerlines, but ended up veering to the east, following a much more clear road away from Hamilton Creek, which brought me to powerlines. It should have been obvious these were the powerlines that would take me up towards the Birkenfeld/Table saddle. Somehow I failed to recognize that.

Followed powerline road up to a junction. Took the lower fork which dead ended, just 15 minutes before my turnaround deadline. Wasn't as discouraged as you might think; I needed an excuse to turn back. But then, as I was about to head back down, spotted a PCT emblem on a tree! And also on the other side of the road.

Intuitively knew which direction to go on PCT, but sought verification from compass. Drat, PCT goes east/west at this spot, so that didn't help. Trusted my gut, dropped quickly on PCT, soon out of snow zone. Too cloudy to catch any landmarks that would verify I was going the right direction. Figured I had to be though. Only other possibility was that I was headed towards three-corner rock, but nothing about this trail was consistent with that section of PCT.

Relieved when I hit the Cedar/Westway/PCT junction, which put me in known terrain. Had enough time to rush up to the Table table, but resisted. There was no point in doing that, other than feeding my obsession. Made it to the car w/o headlamp, but barely (sensible hikers would have fired it up, almost completely dark).
Attachments
1.jpg
Top of Cedar Creek Falls.
2.jpg
When I first hit the powerlines.
3.jpg
Don't know where I'm at, but not a bad place to be.
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Deadend. Fifteen minutes to turnaround deadline. If I hadn't been in such an anxious frenzy, this would have been a great spot to take a break and enjoy the serenity.
5.jpg
Overjoyed.
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No Table table today.
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Chip Down
Posts: 1088
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: Hamilton Creek RR grade, return on PCT

Post by Chip Down » December 17th, 2017, 8:18 am

Chip Down wrote: Was thinking I'd follow Hamilton Creek and the RR to the powerlines, but ended up veering to the east, following a much more clear road away from Hamilton Creek, which brought me to powerlines. It should have been obvious these were the powerlines that would take me up towards the Birkenfeld/Table saddle. Somehow I failed to recognize that.
Aha! I see what went wrong. When I left Hamilton Creek, it was in a jumbled area where I wasn't quite sure where the RR grade went, but I was following a clear road, so stuck with it. I didn't know for sure if I was still on the RR or not.

Then I came to a very clear Y junction, and the road was even more clear. At this point, I assumed I was on the blue line shown on Don Nelsen's map (lower left on the excerpt below). As it was getting a bit late, I took the right branch for a shorter route to PCT. But I now realize the route I took is completely consistent with the left branch. Everything fits.

So how did I end up there? The Y junction was crystal clear, there was no confusion or uncertainty. And yes, I'm absolutely certain I went right. Left was more appealing, as it was flat and went towards the powerlines, which was my original goal. But instead I ascended to the right, I'm sure of it. Weird. I didn't have Don's map with me; I was working from memory, and the intuition that a road ascending to the right would have to take me to Table or Cedar. If I had Don's map with me, I like to think I would have realized where I was at as I was trudging up the powerline road. (I would have wondered how I got there, but at least I would have recognized where I was).

Oh, here's a possibility: I didn't lose the RR grade in the sloppy jumbled area. The Y junction I arrived at was the lowest one shown in this excerpt of Don's map, the junction that shows a yellow connector. If I took the right branch there, it would completely explain why I ended up where I did. This scenario means I failed to notice the yellow connector, which is completely plausible, as they're often quite faint. It also means I failed to notice the blue shorter road to PCT. This seems a bit of a stretch, but it's far more plausible than Don's map being wildly off.
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beag
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Joined: April 6th, 2009, 2:30 pm

Re: Hamilton Creek RR grade, return on PCT

Post by beag » December 17th, 2017, 5:50 pm

The RR followed the creek upstream for another mile and then crossed over to the West side. Just before you went right on the road there is a huge wash out area. There must have been a big trestle there before the washout. We have found rails in different positions down near the creek. Upstream a short distance from washout there are remnants of another trestle and a short spur line west and also to main RR line. Also there is a big loading area near the Creek. The incline RR ran down on a narrow gauge line from just off PCT at 90degree turn on PCT between Birkenfeld and Table to loading area. Steam Donkey platform is in the woods 10 feet off PCT.

If you explore more in there Don can give you a lot of info. If you follow RR line further up the creek to Powerline crossing and then want to head up to PCT, just at the north end of PL clearing there is a ridge in the woods that takes you up to pylon and then follow PL road uphill. A lot easier than going up through brush under Power Lines

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