Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

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Chip Down
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Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by Chip Down » November 29th, 2017, 10:09 pm

I set out to follow the edge of the eastern cliffs on Table Mt today. As often happens, what looks easy on maps/photos appears totally different when you're on the ground. Terrain was more complex than expected, and visibility was terrible. I settled for following a couple ridges up from the top of Greenleaf Falls.

Started at Greenleaf Peak in the rain, followed an abandoned road (extension of CG2020) into Greenleaf Basin to Greenleaf Creek, crossed to the west side of the creek and followed it downstream. Ended up at a prominent ridge overlooking an acute bend in the creek. Very distinctive, easy to spot on map.

Dropped to the top of Greenleaf Falls, where I discovered I could follow a trail down the west side of the falls. Didn't expect that. Instead, I ascended to the west, while staying as far south as possible, intending to hit the Table cliffs. Ran into a crisp ridge, but can't spot it on the map, so presumably it doesn't drop far towards Greenleaf Creek. Ascended through easy open terrain, until I stumbled into a lovely rock garden just as the sun was finally trying to peek out a little (it was raining all the way from my car to the top of the falls).

There were cliffs above, so I had to go left or right. I went right (north), too far really, until I hit a minor ridge and turned left/west (probably the same ridge I had crossed on my way to Greenleaf Falls, the ridge that overlooks the creek at the acute bend). My route description is an extreme simplification; the terrain was pretty jumbled (fun/interesting).

My ridge faded, but I continued west through mossy cliff bands until I encountered a prominent ridge rising from Greenleaf Basin. I was grateful for that, as I was starting to wonder where I was. The ridge offered security. By this time, I had realized I wasn't going to get over to the cliff-edge route I had planned, but I knew there would be no views over there anyway, so I was satisfied with how things turned out.

Ascending the ridge, the rain started up again...or so I thought. Got pelted with a blob of slush, and realized it wasn't rain, it was snow melting out of the trees (snow on the ground was very light, and had started just a little lower).

I'd been getting anxious about time/route, but as I ascended the ridge, my confidence returned. I knew it couldn't be much farther. Sure enough, I soon popped out (rather abruptly, sooner than expected) precisely at the extreme eastern Table Mt viewpoint accessible by trail. Out of the trees, it was dry again. Nice. Completely socked in by clouds, but calm, and not terribly cold. Clouds started parting, and there were limited views to be had for maybe 30 minutes, and then back to nothing but grey, so I moved on to the summit via trail.

The Table Mt table was in much worse shape than 4 days ago. Vandalism, apparently (and not the first time). I poked around the summit plateau, sometimes in the clouds and sometimes in the sun.

Took the north ridge trail down to the powerline/PCT saddle, and followed the powerlines back east to Greenleaf Peak and my car. The north ridge was fun. It was essentially bare, so quite a dramatic change from my snow trudge a couple weeks ago.

Saw/heard no humans all day.
Attachments
1.jpg
This is where it started getting interesting. A break from the bushwhacking, and some real routefinding challenges.
2.jpg
Hmm, that would seem to be the cliff edge way over there. Why am I this far north?
3.jpg
"You again?" the table sneered. "Summer visitors usually get better views."

"Shut up and hold my beer," I replied.
4.jpg
A slushy trail (left) through the beargrass on Table's plateau. In the last month, I've been here three times: postholing, bare, today.
5.jpg
Nice view of the northern Chief, and some unidentified big mountain way off in the distance. This was as clear as it got all day.
6.jpg
The north ridge of Table, which I followed to the powerlines (visible in pic, but just). Followed powerlines east (right) to Greenleaf Peak (out of frame)
7.jpg
Lots of big cables, pipes, sheet metal. This was by far the most photogenic of the bunch.
8.jpg

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bobcat
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by bobcat » November 30th, 2017, 11:00 am

Many thanks. I've been contemplating this loop for a while, but haven't done it out of sheer laziness and abject fear of getting hypothermically soaked to the bone by wet brush. It's probably good you didn't ascend via the cliff edge (except now you're probably going to attempt it). I'm imagining all kinds of squirrelly obstacles in there . . .

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Chip Down
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by Chip Down » November 30th, 2017, 7:12 pm

bobcat wrote:... fear of getting hypothermically soaked to the bone by wet brush
Having seen the bottom and top of the route on previous hikes, I knew it wouldn't be brushy the whole way. It really was about as clear as one could realistically hope for. Vine Maple was probably my worst foe, but it wasn't that bad. One thing that kept me fairly dry is that it was windless and warm enough to wear just a thin poly tee shirt most of the day, with an umbrella when I didn't need both hands. Sure, I got wet, but I didn't feel miserably soggy.
bobcat wrote:It's probably good you didn't ascend via the cliff edge (except now you're probably going to attempt it).
It's at the top of my list. Now I have a really good idea how it should be done, and I think it will go fairly well. From my route, I think I saw some beautiful mossy slopes and landings through the clouds to the south. One concern is that as I neared the summit and my ridge started to converge with the cliff edge, I popped over a couple times to check it out, and found it to be quite brushy right up to the edge. If that turns out to be the case, I might turn back when it stops being fun, and use the saved time for some extra exploring.
bobcat wrote:I'm imagining all kinds of squirrelly obstacles in there . . .
I certainly hope so! :D I'm especially intrigued by the huge breach (gap, crack, whatever you want to call it). Until a few minutes ago I wondered if I could get in there, but a comment on summitpost says it's not that great. I'll check it out anyway.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by Don Nelsen » November 30th, 2017, 8:07 pm

Excellent report and I really liked living vicariously through your narration. I'm surprised it was raining up there since it was really a pretty good day in the Portland area. but that's the gorge, I suppose!

I enjoy how you break up your reports with clear paragraphs too. Easy to read and clear, concise.

Did you take a look to see if the Chevy was still there?

I did a similar hike a few years ago but I missed what you call the Rock Garden so will have to go check it out. Thanks for the incentive.

(here's my track from that earlier hike, Sept 23rd, 2006:)
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-Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Chip Down
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by Chip Down » November 30th, 2017, 9:08 pm

Don, my co-workers were as surprised to hear about rain as I was to hear it was nice in Portland. If I had started out 2-3 hours later it would have been much better, but that would have just barely allowed me to get down the north ridge to the PCT/powerline saddle by dark, and hike back on the utility road by headlamp. Too risky, no time cushion if something went wrong.

I did look for the Chevy, but was just working from memory, and had no GPS/altimeter. I remembered it was just a little below the CG2020 junction with the powerline road, but problem is, when ascending that road I just saw a long series of switchbacks, with no idea where CG2020 crossed. So I kept an eye out for it, but didn't dig deep. It's on the south side of the powerline road, right? Close enough to be seen from the road if not overgrown? I might look again next time I'm there, time permitting.

I might have been fairly close to the Greenleaf loading platform. I was slightly anxious about crossing Greenleaf Creek, so when the "road" came to the creek I went upstream a little, knowing it gets braided a bit, looking for an easy crossing. However, I was worried it might get very brushy and marshy, and indeed it did, so I gave up and went downstream until I found a convenient logjam to walk across (when I say "walk across" I'm exaggerating how graceful I was; in reality it wasn't a pretty sight). I don't think the entire basin is that marshy, so maybe I just needed to go a little further north. I spotted a road that I think might be (probably is) your "RR grade". I don't know if I'll ever explore Greenleaf Basin, but I do like the fact that it would be impossible to get lost in there. That's appealing, knowing I could explore all I want, and when I run out of time I just need to walk straight in any direction until I hit a known point. I bet I could get out of there without a compass (but I'd feel more comfortable having one).

pcg
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by pcg » December 1st, 2017, 9:04 am

Chip Down wrote: I'm especially intrigued by the huge breach (gap, crack, whatever you want to call it)...
Me too. For years. I tried to enter it from below, but couldn't free climb it. I thought about trying to throw something over the block that's wedged up there, to haul myself up and get access, but don't think that's practical. I think once you're up into the crack, you could make some progress, but it will require pitons and aid and a willingness to get soaked and take on the danger of rockfall from above. Helmet and life insurance mandatory. The other option would be to rap down from the top, but all-in-all I think the Crack of the Gods is too X-rated for me. The rock is just too unstable and too much comes down on its own on a regular basis.
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Table mtn 8.jpg

pcg
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by pcg » December 1st, 2017, 9:24 am

On a related note, I now make it a point to avoid that area after a period of heavy rain. The Greenleaf slide sort of put the fear of God in me, having roamed around there before it occurred. I was told by a geologist that after long periods of rain the underlying rock/soil sort of becomes a giant buried "slip and slide", and that is what caused the east side of Table Mountain to slide into the Columbia River hundreds of years ago and is also what caused the Greenleaf slide, which occurred after heavy winter rains.

I just found this paper which describes this event in detail. Pretty cool.
http://web.pdx.edu/~i1kc/geolinq/thesis ... l-2012.pdf
Last edited by pcg on December 7th, 2017, 9:42 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Table Mt via east ridges from Greenleaf Falls

Post by Eric Peterson » December 2nd, 2017, 11:56 am

Don, I love how a few years ago is 2006...

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