Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by Chip Down » November 16th, 2019, 10:15 pm

MOTIVATION/INSPIRATION:
Several times I've gazed west across Eliot Canyon to the open grassy crest of Stranahan Ridge, a little below Timberline Trail. It was finally time to go investigate. But how to get there?

ROUTE OPTIONS:
Cloud Cap, Timberline Trail, down to the Eliot crossing (icy?), up the other side, continue on TLT to Stranahan Ridge, descend until I run out of time, return the same way. This would be horrible. I couldn't bring myself to do it.

Park at Inspiration Point, drop into canyon, cross Eliot (icy?), ascend other side of canyon, explore ridge. I didn't like the idea of ending my day with a climb out of Eliot canyon. And I had no idea how difficult the canyon crossing would be.

Drive Laurance Lake Road to the jumbled up dirt segment where the road was washed out when Eliot came roaring down the mountain in 1996 (I'm told; sounds plausible). Start up Eliot Creek and look for a good opportunity to climb out of the canyon to gain Stranahan Ridge. This option won out, even though I knew it would be brutal.

ANXIETIES:
- Time. Days are getting short. I set my alarm for the meridian, 11:55. If I wasn't starting down by then, I'd better have a damn good reason. I don't mind trail hiking by headlamp, but this trip started and ended offtrail.
- Getting boxed into the canyon, no way forward or out to the side, forced to retreat.
- Snow? Seemed really unlikely this would be a deal killer, but I wondered.
- Brush and blowdown, mile after mile.

UP THE ELIOT:
I started in the dark, which I vowed I wouldn't do, but I arrived early. What else was I going to do, wait in my car? It was super easy. Glad I did it. Travel was pretty straightforward. Sandy in spots, and the rocky stretches weren't bad. Often, I had to traverse steep banks or cross the creek, both of which were pretty easy. Kept an eye out for escape options to get me out of the canyon. If I hit a dead end, wanted to know what my most recent escape option was, downstream. I bailed at about 3800'. The canyon was getting really steep (even cliffy) on the west side (my right). The creek was still easy to follow, but I knew this might be my last opportunity to climb out safely.

STRANAHAN RIDGE:
The ridge wasn't really well defined until approx 4600'. As the ridge emerged from the chaos, it also became less brushy. Unfortunately, the fire damage was a problem. If I stepped over one downed tree, I stepped over a hundred. And of course they were often jumbled in a heap. But I persisted, and finally around 5500' I was rewarded with the open grassy ridge I had come for. But I was only 500' below Timberline Trail, which means I might as well have done this from Cloud Cap. Couldn't have known. I decided to drop east to a rocky grassy viewpoint overlooking Eliot. Not as good as I had hoped for, too low and overgrown, but probably worth the twenty minutes it took me to get there.

ONWARD TO TIMBERLINE TRAIL:
Rather than return to Stranahan Ridge, I ascended closer to Eliot, through difficult brush and blowdown, until I came to a verdant gully which hosted a tributary creek to Eliot. I ascended towards TLT. It was the coldest part of the day. I started watching very closely for TLT. Didn't want to overshoot it! When I reached Stranahan Ridge, it was 11:57. Yep, two minutes after my turnaround mandate.

THE DESCENT:
Although I made no effort to repeat my ascent route, it's funny how close I came, just by following openings in the brush and following sensible topography. I wish I had stayed farther from the canyon and explored new terrain, but I kept getting sucked towards the river. When I reached canyon bottom, I followed Eliot, and sometimes the adjacent forest, at my whim. There were stretches where the forest was open and easy to walk through, but eventually it was overwhelmed by flood debris (rocks and logs). I arrived at my car after sunset, but early enough that I didn't need my headlamp.

ELEVATION:
2800' at Laurance Lake Rd
6000' at Timberline Trail
Attachments
Capture.JPG
0.jpg
Typical of my ridge ascent.
1.jpg
There we go, this is what I was looking for.
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Down to the left, the viewpoint I took a little side trip to. Cloud Cap at upper right.
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Looking across to Stranahan Ridge from the viewpoint.
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A little higher on the ridge.
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Eliot flood debris. Notice how abruptly it ends. Seems to be typical; I've seen it like this elsewhere on Hood.
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What a crazy warm Sepvember. I saw a bee and a mosquito!

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Bosterson
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Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by Bosterson » November 16th, 2019, 11:22 pm

What a glorious mid October November day it was. Here's how things looked a bit to the SE.

IMG_1219.jpg
IMG_1214.jpg
Will hike off trail for fun.

ghosting
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Joined: December 11th, 2011, 12:15 pm

Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by ghosting » November 17th, 2019, 11:14 am

Vicious Mosquito! :)

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Chip Down
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Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by Chip Down » November 17th, 2019, 8:25 pm

Bosterson: You're going to leave us wondering?

ghosting: This is a twist. I'm accustomed to Bosterson commenting on my beverage selection.

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Bosterson
Posts: 1998
Joined: May 18th, 2009, 3:17 pm
Location: Portland

Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by Bosterson » November 17th, 2019, 8:51 pm

Chip Down wrote:
November 17th, 2019, 8:25 pm
Bosterson: You're going to leave us wondering?

ghosting: This is a twist. I'm accustomed to Bosterson commenting on my beverage selection.
Ha! Your beverage selection was boring. 8-) We did Lamberson Spur from 35 to the TT and back via Polallie to Tilly Jane, then a bike ride back to the car. Tree tasting notes for that area have been updated in the conifer ID thread.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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

Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by Chip Down » November 17th, 2019, 9:34 pm

Bosterson wrote:
November 17th, 2019, 8:51 pm
We did Lamberson Spur from 35 to the TT ...
My condolences. Let's see, trying to remember how I escaped from the top of that route. Oh yeah, I returned via Bluegrass Ridge. In the rain. Not the smartest decision I ever made.

Anyway, now that I've had a day to ruminate, a couple thoughts:
- Really wishing I had stayed in Eliot Canyon. The ridge down low wasn't much fun. But who knows, maybe climbing out of the canyon higher up would have been a nightmare.
- Interesting how much commitment that hike required. I like to do routes that are easier coming back (on trail, glissading, in some way easier than the ascent). But yesterday's hike was every bit as difficult on the descent, especially with the slight route variation. Although, come to think of it, there was a bit of duff glissading into the canyon. That's something you don't get to do every day. :D

ghosting
Posts: 28
Joined: December 11th, 2011, 12:15 pm

Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by ghosting » November 18th, 2019, 12:08 pm

The off trail section is my own personal escapism when I am at work.

I've decided I need to be less of a lurker :shock:

Chip Down wrote:
November 17th, 2019, 8:25 pm
Bosterson: You're going to leave us wondering?

ghosting: This is a twist. I'm accustomed to Bosterson commenting on my beverage selection.

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markesc
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by markesc » November 19th, 2019, 6:19 pm

Wow now that's another beast mode trip! Nice work!

Did you see any waterfalls along that route? I thought there was one or two along the Elliot?

Thoughts of starting at Elk Cove TH, then cutting over from Inspiration?

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

Re: Hood: Stranahan Ridge and Eliot Canyon, from Laurance Lake to TLT

Post by Chip Down » November 19th, 2019, 7:59 pm

markesc wrote:
November 19th, 2019, 6:19 pm
Wow now that's another beast mode trip! Nice work!

Did you see any waterfalls along that route? I thought there was one or two along the Elliot?

Thoughts of starting at Elk Cove TH, then cutting over from Inspiration?
1. You always say the nicest things about my hikes. :D

2. Yeah, I knew there was one up there. Wasn't sure I'd get to see it along the way. I'll add a pic below, and I've also added a tag to my overview map, showing its location just below the off-route viewpoint I visited.

3. Doesn't seem that appealing, although I kinda like the idea of connecting the two Inspiration Points (one on the Elk Cove trail, which is often called Coe Overlook; the other on a switchback on Cloud Cap Road). An interesting loop could be from Lawrance, up Coe/Compass, clockwise on Timberline Trail briefly, down Eliot.
Attachments
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Capture.JPG

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