A Big Huckleberry Loop 05-Jan-2014

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VanMarmot
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A Big Huckleberry Loop 05-Jan-2014

Post by VanMarmot » January 5th, 2014, 5:24 pm

Big Huckleberry Mtn is a pleasant hike with decent views. I’ve done it as a long out & back on the PCT from Panther Creek (Big Huck via PCT 2012) and as a logging road / PCT loop from Crest Horse Camp to the N (Big Huck via W Ridge 2012). After holding the map to my forehead, I had visions of yet another loop – one that would keep the driving and hiking time within reason for a short winter day. So on this startlingly clear but cold day (and the bluebird wore down), I took NFD 65 N past Panther Creek Campground and then turned right up NFD 68 for about 2 mi to an obvious T-junction and parked just below the gate.

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In the other direction, NFD 6801 (no gate) headed NW - I went that way.

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I suppose some would say that walking on a dirt road isn't really a "hike" but if it's going where you want to go and no one is stepping up to build new trails, then you might as well take advantage of a road. It's not a "road" then, but an "extra-wide" trail (as in Supersize my tread!). That it was early on a Sunday morning out of hunting season helped preserve the illusion that this was just a big trail. NFD 6801 took me up to Big Huck's W ridge where I turned on to NFD 026,

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which took me to the NFD 069 / 071 junction.

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NFD 071 is a short spur that takes you to what little remains of the old trail up the W ridge. I continued on 069 which soon begins to parallel the PCT, which runs along the ridge above. 069 was icy in places but there was no snow, only the ghosts of Christmas past.

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The farther along the 069 you go, the closer you get to the PCT, so I took advantage of an old clear cut to go XC uphill to meet the PCT.

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Once on the ridge, I realized that the PCT was actually below it at this point and I was standing on the old CCT :D - the PCT having been realigned lower to spare the fragile ridge-top meadows. But I couldn't resist following the CCT for a bit and was rewarded by finding an old "Pacific Crest Trail System" trail marker - the tree apparently having croaked before it could completely swallow the marker.

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From the open spots on the ridge, I had a great view of Little Huckleberry and the Big Lava Bed to the E,

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and of Big Huckleberry's summit and Hood to the S.

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The CCT followed Big Huck's N ridge, which intersects the W ridge (reachable from NFD 071),

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and shortly thereafter the PCT in a small saddle with a commanding view of Adams.

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From there, it was on to the summit for lunch out of the wind and in the sun. The wind had been howling cold across the ridge and it was good to get away from it. After taking in the view of Hood and Jefferson,

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it was S on the PCT, through some lovely avenues of trees,

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to its junction with NFD 68.

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Here you have the option of continuing on the PCT, then cutting over on NFD 020 to meet NFD 068, or just going down NFD 068. I went down 68. Not a bad loop (12.5 mi RT, 2000' EG), with some decent views here and there. Probably not one for hunting season. On the other hand, if there was any snow, this road/PCT combo would be a good way to do a snowshoe hike of Big Huckleberry. The red line on the map shows an alternate route up the W ridge that I explored previously.

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drm
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Re: A Big Huckleberry Loop 05-Jan-2014

Post by drm » January 6th, 2014, 7:52 am

That's really researching a route! And you never really know what condition all those old roads are going to be in. Some of them can get quite overgrown and brushy, though maybe this time of year it wouldn't be too bad with the bare branches.

I once researched such a route to do a loop that connected Soda Peaks Lake to Observation Peak to make a big loop in Trapper Creek.

I also think a walk on a dirt road is still a hike, and they can be especially good in the winter. And yours gave you that great bonus of a ridge with good views and that historic trail marker.

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VanMarmot
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Re: A Big Huckleberry Loop 05-Jan-2014

Post by VanMarmot » January 6th, 2014, 11:53 am

drm wrote:That's really researching a route! And you never really know what condition all those old roads are going to be in. Some of them can get quite overgrown and brushy, though maybe this time of year it wouldn't be too bad with the bare branches.

I once researched such a route to do a loop that connected Soda Peaks Lake to Observation Peak to make a big loop in Trapper Creek.

I also think a walk on a dirt road is still a hike, and they can be especially good in the winter. And yours gave you that great bonus of a ridge with good views and that historic trail marker.
Thanks! I knew from past experience with NFD 069 that it was open but had to take a chance on the others. All were wide-open and shouldn't be affected by any summer growth. It helps for access that this area is popular with hunters.

In 2012, I did a route around Trapper Ck (Circling Trapper) on trails, roads, and a little XC. In that case there was a "road" on the map that was barely still there - so you never know until you go see.

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rainrunner
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Re: A Big Huckleberry Loop 05-Jan-2014

Post by rainrunner » January 6th, 2014, 1:02 pm

Nice trail report with great pictures.
We really love the old PCT trail sign.
The mountains are calling and I must go.
John Muir

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