RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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northridge
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RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by northridge » January 11th, 2015, 9:42 pm

The weather forecast for Saturday (1/10) seemed to get worse every time I looked at it over the course of the week, but the rain was predicted to be light and the gorge can sometimes provide a nice window of opportunity no matter the forecast. Although it was raining steadily on the west side Saturday morning, our small crew of SM, MK and I arrived at Eagle Creek to find patches of blue sky and dry conditions. It never rained a drop until right when we got back to the hatchery lot around 3pm. We were also treated to wide-ranging views rather than the expected clouds and mist.

Our goal for the day was to head out the Eagle Creek trail to Sorenson Creek, bushwhack up to Upper Sorenson Falls along the creek, then work our way up to intersect the ridge line that runs up from the Eagle Creek Trail to intersect the Ruckel Ridge trail at about 2600ft. That main ridge is along the old wilderness boundary on the USGS map. I recalled an excellent report (by Acorn Woodpecker) about that very ridge and tracked it down to reference here.

An overview of the off-trail portion of the loop is shown below. It was essentially three segments of differing character:

(1) The bushwhack up to Upper Sorenson Creek Falls along the creek
(2) Interesting route-finding and scrambling up to the main ridge from the falls
(3) The direct finish up the main ridge to the Ruckel Ridge trail.

Image

The Eagle Creek trail was muddy to start, and there was plenty of water dripping down from above. We enjoyed nice views of Metlako Falls, and got a little extra distance by continuing past Sorenson Creek to the Punch Bowl Falls viewpoint. As we doubled back to Sorenson Creek we saw our first and last fellow hikers of the day as they made their way out the Eagle Creek trail.

We started up Sorenson Creek on the south side, and almost immediately crossed over on a big mossy log to the north side and never jumped the creek again. We stayed near the creek most of the way, but, to avoid some tangle below, did work our way higher to an open boulder field near the falls, then dropped down to the area right in front of the falls. I've seen photos of the falls running much stronger, but it was still a very scenic spot.

After a bit we started a rising traverse from the base of the falls and worked our way along game tracks next to rock walls. Brush was not an issue. We frequently reached route decision points where there was a tempting path heading up, but we continued traversing. No doubt there are many viable options and interesting small ridgelets to explore on return trips. We finally reached a point where it looked to make sense to head up. We scrambled a steep (but not exposed) track. That led to more traversing and arrival at a small ridge line. Fun scrambling followed up that line until we reached a minor obstacle. We did what the animals were doing and went left, then worked back up to the top of the obstacle where we found a cool little rock formation and stellar views. After a break there we continued up a minor ridge spine and in short order encountered the main ridge line. The remainder of the route up to Ruckel Ridge goes as per Acorn W's detailed report.

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I had been on Ruckel Ridge the previous weekend and encountered patchy snow above 2000ft, but that was all long gone. The rocky portions of the ridge were a bit wet and slick so the descent required focus. We tried to clear all the small/medium blowdown off of the Ruckel Ridge trail below our intersection point and overall that classic trail is in good shape, at least to 2600ft. We soon hit the campground and then the parking lot and were happy the weather gods had given us good conditions all day.

A few photos appear below. Thanks again Acorn W for your original report on the main ridge.

Heading out the muddy and wet Eagle Creek Trail
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Metlako Falls from the viewpoint
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Nobody was diving into the Punch Bowl on this day.
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Heading up Sorenson Creek. Not much flow at this time.
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Upper Sorenson Creek Falls
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Yours truly at the base of Upper Sorenson Creek Falls
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Expansive views being enjoyed by MK from a well-designed perch at around 1500ft on approach to main ridge
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Minor scrambling after joining the main ridge.
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Great open area along the main ridge, Ruckel Ridge in sight. Almost there.
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The whole loop
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Last edited by northridge on July 27th, 2017, 7:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Aardvark
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by Aardvark » January 11th, 2015, 10:06 pm

that looks like an absolute blast. :!:
Joy in the universe, and keen curiosity about it all - that has been my religion.
- John Burroughs

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Peder
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by Peder » January 11th, 2015, 11:33 pm

northridge wrote: Yours truly at the base of Upper Sorenson Creek Falls
Image
Amazing choice of clothes for January! It does say something about the current conditions! What a lovely ridge, it looks like a perfect outing!
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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Rustygoat
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by Rustygoat » January 21st, 2015, 2:46 pm

Very cool off-trail trek! This is the first picture of Upper Sorenson Falls I have seen with the stump tumbled over. Thanks for the TR :)
Tim

Chasing waterfalls can be addictive.
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northridge
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Joined: January 24th, 2010, 8:59 am

Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by northridge » January 21st, 2015, 5:42 pm

Excellent observation about the stump! Thanks, I had seen the older photos before, but didn't note the difference while there.

Another view:

Image
Last edited by northridge on July 27th, 2017, 7:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by acorn woodpecker » January 22nd, 2015, 4:57 pm

Great photos and report. Looks like you two had a nice adventure. The route finding and scrambling between the falls and the Ruckel Spur looks interesting. That open area along the spur ridge is a wonderful spot. It was nice to relive some of what I did along that route in your report.

It's flattering to know one of my reports up an obscure ridge was useful to somebody! Thanks for the compliments. I'm not much of a waterfall hunter, but between what you and Rustygoat posted, there are some enticing looking waterfalls to check out.

JimSorensen
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by JimSorensen » May 16th, 2016, 10:20 am

This August a small group of us are planning to do the bushwhack from where Sorenson Creek crosses the Eagle Creek Trail up to the base of Upper Sorenson Falls and then back to the main trail. I know very low water flow in the creek and falls is a distinct possibility. My question is about the bushwhack---how difficult, how far the falls are from the main trail, what a reasonable one-way time might be for the bushwhack, etc. Our group will consist of somewhat "elder statesmen", but all hikers and in good physical condition, two of whom backpacked from Wahtum Lake to the EC trailhead last summer. Thanks very much for any advice.

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Chip Down
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by Chip Down » May 16th, 2016, 6:03 pm

Cool project. Didn't even notice this was an old TR until I saw mention of snow.
My only reservation is that there's a lot of known territory covered again just for the sake of linking two well-established routes, but that's okay. Sometimes that's part of the fun, looking for new ways to connect Trail A and Trail B.

northridge
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by northridge » May 17th, 2016, 5:20 am

JimSorensen wrote:My question is about the bushwhack---how difficult, how far the falls are from the main trail, what a reasonable one-way time might be for the bushwhack, etc.
My recollection is that the falls are about a third of a mile from the Eagle Creek Trail intersection, requiring less than an hour of hiking. It's definitely a very brushy tangle down by the creek. A bit less difficult travel can sometimes be found by seeking out game trails higher up the slope on the north side after a little ways in. It's certainly a moderate bushwhack, and I would expect more so in August. Good luck, I would be interested to hear about the conditions you encounter.

JimSorensen
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Re: RuckelSoreous - Upper Sorenson Falls to Ruckel Ridge

Post by JimSorensen » May 17th, 2016, 6:37 am

Thanks, northridge---will be sure to report on our trek. Best, Jim

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