I hiked a loop of about 55 miles in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness (the Blue Mtns of WA and OR) this past week. I'll post pictures as soon as I've got them sorted out, but here are the basic stats (mileages and elevations rough, based on Google Earth and FS website and not counting elevation gains in ups/downs along the trail):
- Day 1
- Started at Panjab TH, 1:00PM (3200 ft elev)
- Panjab Tr to Indian Corral(6 mi, 2400' gain)
- Mt Misery Tr to Squaw Spring (5 mi, some ups and downs)
- Day 2
- Continue on Mt Misery Tr to junction with Melton Creek Tr (2 mi, ups and downs)
- Side trip up Diamond Pk (3/4 mi round trip, 200' gain/loss)
- Melton Creek Tr to junction with Crooked Creek Tr (10 mi, 3800' loss)
- Crooked Creek Tr to junction with Wenaha River Tr (4 mi, 500' loss, brushiest mess I've ever hiked)
- Day 3
- Wenaha River Tr to junction with Smooth Ridge Tr (3 mi, 100' gain)
- Smooth Ridge Tr to Twin Spring (7 mi, 2800' gain)
- Day 4
- Continue on Smooth Ridge Tr to junction with Mt Misery Tr at Oregon Butte (9 mi, 1400' gain, ups and downs)
- Side trip up Oregon Butte (1 mi round trip, 200' gain/loss)
- Mt Misery Tr to Teepee TH (3 mi, 700' loss but with side trip up West Butte)
- Turkey Creek Tr to junction with Panjab Tr (4 mi, 1900' loss)
- Panjab Tr back to Panjab TH (1 mi, 400' loss)
Crooked Creek Trail from the junction with Melton Creek Tr to the Wenaha River is overgrown to the point of misery. Although the creek is beautiful, I did NOT enjoy that 4 miles of pushing through weeds.
Smooth Ridge Trail is very hard to follow in some places. I lost it multiple times, spending anywhere from a few minutes to 15 minutes looking for the continuation. Once I lost it so bad I stopped and camped early (at Twin Spring) and resolved to hike back out the way I'd come, which would have forced me to go to Troy, OR, and call my wife to pick me up. But on the way back I found the barely visible real trail a quarter mile back from the spring, which of course made my day.
Thanks to drm for his early scouting, both earlier this month and a couple years ago.
EDITED: Here are the details...
I started out at about 1:00PM on the Panjab Trail. My original plan was to start at Teepee TH and go counter-clockwise. A pessimistic snow report from the Forest Service (which turned out to be completely wrong) pushed me to start at Panjab, which supposedly offered me more options. It made the trip a few miles longer. Panjab Creek: A little under 6 miles later I reached the high meadow known as Indian Corral, and the junction with the Mt Misery Trail: Mt Misery Trail continues through many large meadows: Soon after Mt Misery entered forest I began to see bear scat. Look closely at the bottom right "chunk" and you'll see fish fins: Found this just before I stopped for the night: Day 2 continued a couple miles on Mt Misery Trail, granting this gorgeous view to Oregon Butte (the high point in the Washington Blues): Heading down Melton Creek Trail I saw some interesting wildlife. He/she was a little hard of hearing, as none of my yo-bearing got his attention; it took a shrill whistle and a wave of my poles to get him scurrying off: Melton Creek dead ends into Crooked Creek Trail, which I took south toward the Wenaha River. From about the junction with the Three Forks Trail, this was the brushiest mess of a trail I've ever hiked. Horrible. Next day I headed up the Wenaha River about three miles. It's a gorgeous, powerful river in yet another Blues canyon. I then headed up Smooth Ridge Trail. Here's a view back down the first 1500 feet or so of the Smooth Ridge Trail to the Wenaha River: This was the most uncertain leg on my trip. The FS rep I called hinted that it might still be snow covered (wrong). The FS website hinted that it might be sketchy and hard to follow (right). On several occasions I would have to poke and search to find the trail's continuation. Once, at Twin Spring, the trail completely disappeared and defied all my efforts to vector to it with map and compass. I thought about asking this local for directions but he ran away: I resigned myself to turning around and hiking out to Troy, OR, and calling my wife for a pick-up. I set up camp and met another local: But the next morning I found the trail, a good 1/4-mile away from where the map put it.
Eventually, Smooth Ridge Tr opened up to a view of Oregon Butte: Made my way up on top for some of the most dramatic 360-degree views of the trip. I then made my way west, over West Butte, out to Teepee Trailhead, then north on Turkey Creek Trail to Panjab Trail and back to my starting point: More pictures here: http://texasbb.net/files/Blues-2009/