Snow in Bigfoot's Backyard - Red Mountain/PCT Loop: 11-22-14

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Sean Thomas
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Snow in Bigfoot's Backyard - Red Mountain/PCT Loop: 11-22-14

Post by Sean Thomas » November 22nd, 2015, 9:27 pm

Joie and I had an incredible day hiking through a completely frozen Indian Racetrack after spending the morning on top of Red Mountain. The recent snowfall has turned most everything in Skamania County above 3,500 into a winter wonderland and with the clear blue skies we had to make a Sunday visit. Sometimes it's hard to describe just how good it feels to be standing on top of a mountain on a day like today. We all know and cherish the feeling, and it seems it's one of those precious things in life that will never get old :)


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We started the hike off FR 60 south of the mountain and started the 3 plus mile journey up the old gated lookout road to the top of Red Mountain. The forest was beautiful wearing a coat of early season snow:


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We passed the junction with the trail down to the racetrack full of excitement for the views just a short ways up the road:


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The summit of Red Mountain stands 4,968 feet above sea level and boasts one of the best views of Mt Adams and the surrounding Cascades from Hood to Ranier. Adams was looking spectacular from the steps of the old fire lookout:


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A slightly closer look:


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At one point there were over 70 fire lookouts in SW Washington but today only three of those remain standing. The original lookout on top of Red Mountain was built all the way back in 1910 and was the first fire lookout constructed in Western Washington. According to Ray Kresek's "Fire Lookouts of the NW" a ranger from Hemlock(near Wind River) carried the supplies over 20 miles up to the lookout site in a horse drawn wagon :shock:


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In 1942-43 the lookout was manned for 12 months by Larry and Mary Rakestraw to aid in spotting possible enemy aircraft during WW2. Reading their story is pretty incredible when considering the trials they faced through an entire year on the mountain before the military ordered the post to be shutdown. There is a Rakestraw Road near Carson, Washington off Wind River Highway that I assume is named after them:


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The lookout we see today was built in the 1960's and the shed below the summit was built in the 1940's for wood storage and separate sleeping quarters:


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The old 1940's shed with Mt Ranier on the horizon:


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We could see south to Mt Hood and Jefferson with the gorge full of fog:


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Mt St Helens was looking pretty dressed for winter as well:


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There was a lot to be thankful for ;)


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We stayed up top for a good portion of the morning imagining what it would be like to spend 12 months up there! Finally the harsh winds were too much and we headed back down to the racetrack junction to continue the loop:


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Joie descending the trackless snow covered trail down to the racetrack meadow:


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More Adams:


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And a river of ice in the trail bed:


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Once we popped out of the trees and reached the race track we couldn't believe our eyes! Everything was covered in a beautiful coating of snow and ice:


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This track has seen a lot of winters:


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Moments like this are what life is all about:


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We followed the connector trail over to the Pacific Crest Trail:


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The woods were even more enjoyable to hike through on the PCT as the mid-afternoon sun shined through the trees:


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More frozen landscape near Green Lake:


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A couple of ponds that had frozen over that the PCT passes very close to were making those lovely cracking noises as we made our way out onto the ice. This forced us into the woods a few times as we crawled through the docked trees:


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We took our time hiking out as we tried to make snowballs that just turned to ice. We did manage a small snow person :)


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Not far from what looked like the perfect Christmas Tree:


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It was both Jo and I's first time on this stretch so we stopped at Sheep Lake for a little while:


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We reached FR 60 near Crest Camp and walked the short distance back to the gated lookout road and the car. I couldn't have asked for better weather, better company or a better time, it was just amazing! On the drive back to Carson I couldn't resist a quick stop at Panther Creek Falls:


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And one last pit stop to close out the TR when we spotted a few dozen Elk grazing in a pasture off Wind River Road:


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miah66
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Re: Snow in Bigfoot's Backyard - Red Mountain/PCT Loop: 11-2

Post by miah66 » November 23rd, 2015, 11:24 am

How was the road getting to the TH?
"The top...is not the top" - Mile...Mile & a Half

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Don Nelsen
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Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Snow in Bigfoot's Backyard - Red Mountain/PCT Loop: 11-2

Post by Don Nelsen » November 23rd, 2015, 5:54 pm

Beautiful photos and nice history, too. You two totally rock!

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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UTurn
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Joined: May 26th, 2013, 7:22 pm

Re: Snow in Bigfoot's Backyard - Red Mountain/PCT Loop: 11-2

Post by UTurn » November 24th, 2015, 7:22 am

So beautiful! I've been down flat for a month with an injury and I'm so thankful for beautiful trip reports like this that encourage me to keep moving forward and healing. Thank you for sharing this!

Lori

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Splintercat
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Re: Snow in Bigfoot's Backyard - Red Mountain/PCT Loop: 11-2

Post by Splintercat » November 24th, 2015, 11:32 am

Great photos and report, Sean! Always fun (virtually) following you two around..!

Tom :-)

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