Cabin Creek Canyon + upper Cabin Creek Ridge

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

Cabin Creek Canyon + upper Cabin Creek Ridge

Post by Chip Down » January 5th, 2019, 9:05 pm

A few days ago I was in the upper Cabin Creek Canyon. Charming. Wanted to go back and explore it all. Ugh, it was a horrible bushwhack, from the Starvation Ridge trail at 600', up to about 1800'-2000'. Then it started getting a little more fun, opened up, terrain became more interesting. Overall, wasn't worth it, especially on a chilly soggy day.

I was surprised at how often the creek went underground and then reappeared. Made for easy walking through the dry creekbed, compared to the steep brushy banks.

The canyon came to quite an abrupt end as the creek spilled out of the basin at 2700'ish, just west of the Starvation Ridge trail. I followed the creek upstream to verify my prediction that the creek just oozed from a marshy area, not a distinct spring. Turned out it was also a mess of thorns.

From the head of Cabin Creek, I ascended and veered right/west to see if I could meet up with the Cabin Creek Ridge, and follow it to the plateau at 3800', where I could look for the trail to Warren Lake. Cabin Creek Ridge is very poorly defined briefly around 2800'-3100', approximately. This is where I've stopped on my previous visits. But above that it's a cluster of geological wonders, steep and rocky and complex. Bosterson told me about the Twin Pillars of Pablo, and I was shocked when I found them. I thought it was a needle/haystack situation, because there's a bunch of rocky areas here, and I had no idea which way was standard. Above the pillars, the ridge is gentle for a very short stretch before it melds into the plateau.

I thought it would be easy to find the trail to Warren Lake, but I looked at the map and realized I had to go quite a ways down to the south to catch it, or follow the edge of the plateau west until I caught the trail. I was already very tight on time (the brushfest of the lower Cabin Creek Canyon took far longer than expected), so I retreated down and east to catch Starvation Trail around 2700', and followed it down to the starvation trailhead. I don't feel too bad about missing out on Warren Lake and the Warren Rockgarden again. We've lost a lot of snow in the last few days, and I bet those destinations wouldn't have looked all that great. Probably would have been similar to how I've seen them before, but with a light coating of slushy snow.

The predicted rain started as I was driving west, a little before I hit Cascade Locks.
Attachments
1.jpg
Occasionally, lower Cabin Creek Canyon was pleasant.
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A little below here, Cabin Creek Canyon started getting fun/scenic. Above here, it was even better. Would have been fun on a dry day without time pressure.
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This is where I regained the crest of the upper part of Cabin Creek ridge, where it becomes a well-defined ridge again.
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The twin pillars of Pablo, which essentially marks the top end of Cabin Creek ridge, just below the plateau.
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The plateau at 3800', above the Cabin Creek ridge. Suddenly felt like winter.
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It was a light/fast day, so just one beer. This was near the Starvation trail, around 2700'. Amazing how much snow has melted here since Jan 1.
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Wind Mt at sunset.
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I sat and watched the sunset shadow creep up Dog, and then headed don to Starvation TH. There were maybe 3 cars parked at Dog.

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Bosterson
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Re: Cabin Creek Canyon + upper Cabin Creek Ridge

Post by Bosterson » January 6th, 2019, 12:42 pm

I went to Defiance yesterday, but took the road down from the top to catch the Starvation trail, so I didn't see Warren Lake except from above. Can't say how much snow was on the talus above the lake, but the talus above the Defiance trail to the west was covered in some spots and not in others (I ended up having to rock hop in snowshoes between snow patches - "mixed snowshoeing" is now a new sports discipline). But down by Warren, the snow would not have been slushy because there was no slush anywhere - everything was covered in a frozen rain layer and anywhere people had walked was compacted and melt-frozen into bare ice. The lake is well frozen.

From the top of the ridge, it's not hard to follow the plateau west and catch the trail. I did that a couple years ago, and there's a nice route along the plateau edge (north of the actual trail) that keeps giving you views. Snow conditions sucked yesterday though, it's better with fresh powder!
Will hike off trail for fun.

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

Re: Cabin Creek Canyon + upper Cabin Creek Ridge

Post by Chip Down » January 6th, 2019, 3:27 pm

Bosterson, funny that we came so close to meeting yesterday. I was toying with the idea of doing Defiance (surprised to hear snowshoes were needed), and I descended Starvation behind you (I assume, unless you came out by headlamp). As usual, I saw no humans. Oh, that reminds me though, there was something behind me on upper Cabin Creek Ridge, something big, too loud to be deer. At first I thought it was human, but then it went quiet.

Not surprised to hear the trail was icy. The trail over by the head of Starvation Creek was awful on Jan 1, trampled and refrozen enough that microspikes would have been handy.

Before I came to realize how far I was from the trail at that plateau, I wandered around in search of it a few times in different directions, returning to the top of the ridge between attempts to make sure I still knew my way down. Interesting how easy it is to spot that ridge. Stays pretty distinct all the way to the top. I liked how the pillars sort of acted as a gateway, guiding first time descenders, offering assurance that they're on-route.

So anyway, how was the Defiance weather? The plateau was such a drastic change: wind, frost, snow, colder. I was wondering if Defiance would be on the edge of intolerable.

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Bosterson
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Re: Cabin Creek Canyon + upper Cabin Creek Ridge

Post by Bosterson » January 6th, 2019, 11:31 pm

Snowshoes are only needed if you do the northern talus field approach to the summit road, which I always do. The trail was iced and the road at the top was compacted from service vehicles driving up there, then refrozen. However, anywhere that wasn't previously compacted had at least 4-6" of snow (more in the talus field, which had intermittent crevasses the width of dinner plates that went down feet) with a rain crust you would punch through.

Weather at the top was ok. It was cold but not too windy as long as you weren't on the exposed east edge (where the normal Hood view is). There wasn't much wind below the summit.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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