Quartz Creek 10-24-15

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
Post Reply
User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 1873
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by bobcat » October 28th, 2015, 6:28 pm

The hike up Quartz Creek is one of the premier old growth hikes in our general neighborhood. From the Upper Lewis River Trailhead, the Quartz Creek Trail #5 runs 10 ¼ miles to meet the Gifford Pinchot’s Boundary Trail. It encounters three other trails on the way: Quartz Creek Butte Trail #5B, Snagtooth Trail #4, and French Creek Trail #5C.

On Saturday, I hiked only as far as the Quartz Creek Butte Trail, and then took that trail down to Quartz Creek Camp – just 10 miles round-trip. Of the creek crossings, the only intact major bridge is the first one, which hijacks a huge fallen log. The Platinum Creek Bridge, which is next, has seen better days.
First footbridge, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Quartz Creek from the Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Platinum Creek Footbridge, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Big Douglas-fir, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Fungi of various sorts were erupting. Most abundant were the white russulas, some 10 inches across, which were pushing their filthy caps through the duff, as is their custom.
White russula (Russula brevipes) heaving out of the duff, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
White russula (Russula brevipes), Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Olympian milkcap (Lactarius olympianus), Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Shrimp russula (Russula xerampelina), Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Large coral (Ramaria sp.), Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Straight Creek is a major crossing. The bedrock in this area consists of a welded tuff that is exposed in the colorful creek beds. Water levels were extremely low as this was the day before the first fall rains began, so I was able to cross Straight Creek with dry feet for the first time in three visits here. I visited Quartz Creek Falls, at the Straight Creek confluence, crawling out on the rocks to get a vertical view of the drop and the huge plunge pool.

EDIT: The waterfall in the picture is actually Lower Quartz Creek Falls. A more attractive waterfall, Quartz Creek Falls, is a 25-foot slide falls just out of sight upstream. Somehow this one had slipped from my memory and I forgot to visit it on this hike!
Straight Creek, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Quartz Creek above Quartz Creek Falls.jpg
Quartz Creek Falls from above.jpg
Quartz Creek Falls plunge pool, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
There’s another two miles before the next major creek crossing. This begins in a Douglas-fir plantation, but then descends to a stunning old-growth bottomland. The last time I visited here, in 2010, huge trees had come down over the trail, but soon thereafter, the Washington Trails Association came out with their crosscut saws and dealt with the massive windfall. It was plain sailing along a mossy bench under massive Douglas-firs and hemlocks to Snagtooth Creek. Again, most of the year, this would be a ford but it was a simple rock hop at low water.
Mossy footbridge, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Tall trees, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Devil's club, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Big tree bench, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Snagtooth Creek, Quartz Creek Trail.jpg
Another half-mile took me to the junction with the Quartz Creek Butte Trail and I descended to Quartz Creek Camp and luncheon at the verge of Quartz Creek. A huge log offered an easy crossing and I found the Quartz Creek Butte Trail ascending the slope 80 yards upstream. I turned back, and it was an easy lope back – only one other hiker briefly encountered the whole day.
Quartz Creek Camp, Quartz Creek.jpg
Skull of elk, Quartz Creek Camp.jpg
Quartz Creek above Quartz Creek Camp.jpg

User avatar
woodswalker
Posts: 817
Joined: November 25th, 2012, 4:51 pm

Re: Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by woodswalker » October 29th, 2015, 2:08 pm

So it's not just plants you can id by latin name but fungi as well! Awesome report.
Woodswalker

User avatar
K.Wagner
Posts: 605
Joined: June 2nd, 2013, 1:25 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by K.Wagner » October 29th, 2015, 4:32 pm

Another great TR! I had heard about the difficulties with some of the stream crossings. In your opinion, with the rising water levels, will these crossings soon become impassible?
Kelly
There is no shortcut to anyplace worth going to.

PM me about the soon to be released:
Skamania 231
"How to really get off the beaten path in Skamania County"

User avatar
Get Out Backpacking
Posts: 115
Joined: July 24th, 2012, 12:49 pm

Re: Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by Get Out Backpacking » October 29th, 2015, 4:55 pm

That trail is awesome, as is the rest of the Dark Divide area. You should check out the French Creek TR. next, it is pure old growth magic!

User avatar
drm
Posts: 4898
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: The Dalles, OR
Contact:

Re: Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by drm » October 29th, 2015, 6:43 pm

K.Wagner wrote:Another great TR! I had heard about the difficulties with some of the stream crossings. In your opinion, with the rising water levels, will these crossings soon become impassible?
I doubt any of these crossings will get that difficult that soon. One or two of them has some smooth water-polished rock where the trail reaches the creek, but this means you have to look elsewhere, upstream in that case, for bushwhacky fords. Nobody should cross water that they are uncomfortable with, but if you know how to find alternative spots, it shouldn't be too bad.

leiavoia
Posts: 46
Joined: April 24th, 2015, 9:53 pm

Re: Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by leiavoia » October 29th, 2015, 8:02 pm

Thanks for posting those pix. I was there in March of this year and water was much higher then. We actually shimmied across slippery logs with packs on with thundering water below. Made for scary videos. The first crossing is particularly problematic because there isn't much shoreline to travel along when water is high and the log-crossing selection isn't very good if you don't have expert balance and some wits. But your most recent pictures look like the water is low enough that you can walk across easily.

The second big crossing i went across a very large downed log up stream and then bushwacked across the steep slope. Not sure if that was a better choice - it was pretty dirty going.

The elk skull is right where i left it :-)

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 1873
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Quartz Creek 10-24-15

Post by bobcat » October 30th, 2015, 6:39 am

K.Wagner wrote:In your opinion, with the rising water levels, will these crossings soon become impassible?
The other times I've been there, I always had to take my boots off and ford both Straight and Snagtooth Creeks. Straight Creek has some algae, so you need to be careful even on a rock hop. There is a downed tree downstream from the trail crossing on Straight Creek that you can hold on to at higher water (and many more downed trees upstream that make a visit to little Straight Creek Falls a real chore these days). I'd never been across Quartz Creek at the camp before, but these were super low water levels and that big downed tree looks like it will stay there until the next millennial flood.
leiavoia wrote:The elk skull is right where i left it
Cool! Nice that people have left it there unmolested.

Post Reply