Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

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Guy
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Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by Guy » March 10th, 2013, 5:44 pm

This is the pedestrian version of the cross country ski tour Joe, Koda & Water did a couple of weeks ago. Pedestrian because we did it on snow shoes ;)

Determined not to give in to Daylight savings time we stuck with our usual meeting time of 8:00am at the Sandy Safeway & from there set off for the Hood River Meadows Nordic Center. Roads were surprisingly quiet and when we arrived at the Nordic center there were only 2 other cars in the parking lot! We set off in the direction of Clark Creek.

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Clark Creek is easy to cross - there is a bridge! a mile after Clark you reach Newton Creek where there is no bridge but we did find a snow bridge!

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Having not done this hike in the Winter time before I was expecting the Newton Creek Crossing to be the most difficult part of the day but it wasn't the climb up out of Newton Creek was! in fact after the first couple of Hundred feet all the snow shoe tracks that were in front of use ended & we were on our own! We found it easier to leave where the trail should have been & just headed up the slope!

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We didn't make any attempt to follow trails after this point but navigated from trail junction to trail junction looking for the trail signs as we approached each junction to double check we weren't too lost :) .. All the trail signs we saw today we conveniently at foot level.

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On reaching the Elk Meadows / Elk Mountain Junction we headed up hill towards the summit of Elk Mountain. After a half mile uphill slog we reached the summit of Elk Mountain.

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Then continued on to the overlook where the old fire lookout used to be.

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From here we back tracked to the junction with the blue grass ridge.

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We made our way along the ridge until we reached the scorched sign that marks the cutoff trail down to Elk Meadows.

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We then made out way down the slope to Elk Meadows.

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We found a snow bridge over the creek to get into Elk Meadows & then made our way over to the Shelter.

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Time for Lunch :) ..

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I've been to Elk Meadows many times but I have never been there when you can see the iconic view of Hood! Today was no exception while the meadow was in sunshine the Mountain was shrouded in clouds! One day I'll get to see it..

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After a lazy lunch we set off directly across Elk Meadows to the Junction with Elk Mountain where we had been earlier in the day to close the loop.

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Looking back at Blue Grass Ridge.

We were surprised to find nobody else at Elk Meadows & it looked like nobody had been there on Saturday Either! In fact we didn't see any one else anywhere on the trail today!

After closing the loop we just had the slog back & the slightly tricky decent down to Newton Creek.

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A hop & a skip back accross Newton!

And then on to Clark!

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We got back to the Nordic center just as it started to rain - perfect timing!

About 7 miles & 2200' of EG, & a few more pics of the day here.

Hillmap:
Last edited by Guy on March 10th, 2013, 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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arundodonax
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by arundodonax » March 10th, 2013, 6:17 pm

Guy wrote:
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Now this is hiking.

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cincodemayo
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by cincodemayo » March 12th, 2013, 6:11 pm

Great trip report!
I am glad to see everyone seemed having a great time.

Snowshoeing with Guy has to have ascending. I am glad I got a pair of MSR snowshoes :D

Look what I miss.... Irish cream with freshly brewed French press coffee.....

Chizuru

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Guy
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by Guy » March 12th, 2013, 6:28 pm

Yeah, we missed you on Sunday Chizuru, it was a good workout & we got back to the trail head just as the rain was starting!
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Splintercat
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by Splintercat » March 12th, 2013, 6:46 pm

Thanks, Guy - excellent report! That knoll at the crest of Bluegrass Ridge (near the cutoff junction) has become quite a viewpoint since the fire, so nice see it in winter, too. Also nice to see those snags bleaching to a stately grey. I need to get up there this summer and see how the wildflowers are filling in -- should be a nice beargrass display up there in the years ahead!

Tom :)

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Koda
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by Koda » March 12th, 2013, 8:19 pm

I've been to Elk Meadows many times but I have never been there when you can see the iconic view of Hood! Today was no exception while the meadow was in sunshine the Mountain was shrouded in clouds! One day I'll get to see it..
Despite any lack of views from the meadow this loop is one of my favorite hikes (tours in winter) I think the forest here is just beautiful, the topography interesting, creek crossings entertaining and the burn errily welcoming. It does look like you got some views on Bluegrass ridge.

Guy wrote: Having not done this hike in the Winter time before I was expecting the Newton Creek Crossing to be the most difficult part of the day but it wasn't the climb up out of Newton Creek was! in fact after the first couple of Hundred feet all the snow shoe tracks that were in front of use ended & we were on our own! We found it easier to leave where the trail should have been & just headed up the slope!

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thats actually the trail right there underfoot..... there is really only one way up that switchback through the slide alder. Once above that portion your on your own though unless somebody else broke trail, it seems to fade away at some point. It looks like you also missed the famous argyle mystery tree (which is on the trail...)

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Guy
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by Guy » March 12th, 2013, 9:19 pm

thats actually the trail right there underfoot..... there is really only one way up that switchback through the slide alder. Once above that portion your on your own though unless somebody else broke trail, it seems to fade away at some point. It looks like you also missed the famous argyle mystery tree (which is on the trail...)
Thanks Koda, yeah we followed the trail through the first big switchback then left it after crossing the Slide Alder area the second time, after that it was just easier to go straight up the hill. We did bypass the Argyle Mystery tree this time but I've seen it on other trips! I was surprised how the snow built up around the shelter, I'm not sure what I was expecting I just didn't expect what I saw!

Tom, yes there are some cool trees in that burn area now here is my Favorite from this trip:

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Just a note to others who may be thinking about doing this trip, there are no blue diamonds on the trees past Newton Creek and the trails can not be followed in the snow, you need to be comfortable with off trail navigation & travel.
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Re: Elk Mountain & Elk Meadows Loop - 03/10/2013

Post by Splintercat » March 12th, 2013, 10:23 pm

...and speaking of that visit a few years ago, hard to believe it has been 6 or 7 years since the fire! Time flies..!

Tom :shock:

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