Hatfield Wilderness, Starvation Creek to Angels Rest

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Marti M
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Hatfield Wilderness, Starvation Creek to Angels Rest

Post by Marti M » July 6th, 2017, 6:29 pm

Day 1 Starvation Creek Trailhead to Warren Lake- 5 miles

Started at the Starvation Creek Trailhead, with 4 1/2 days worth of food and 2 liters of water, at 1:45 in the afternoon due to having some work commitments in the morning. The planned stopping point was Warren Lake. There is no water source between the trailhead and Warren Lake. The Starvation Creek trail has impressive overlook points of the Columbia River, and Tiger Lilies in bloom, and we even found an illusive Phantom Orchid. I was able to catch a glimpse of Mt Adams through the trees from the trail. We arrived at Warren Lake at 6:52, there was another group there, so we searched for a site away from them. I sent my “In Camp” signal at 7:22pm.
Tigar Lily
Mt Adams from Startvation Creek Trail

Day 2 Warren Lake to Indian Springs 18.08 miles

I woke up at 5:23 am in time to catch the clouds over Mt Defiance and Warren Lake turning pink with the early morning light and reflecting off the Lake. My tracker picked us up leaving the area of Warren Lake at 7:57 am. We made the summit of Mt Defiance at just before 9 am. Mt Hood was playing Peek a Boo behind clouds, but we were able to get some nice shots of it. Unfortunately the mountains to the north were obscured by clouds on our way up. I got to enter unexplored territory for myself and Eric both as we went over the south side of Defiance and picked up trail #413, the Wyeth Trail. The trail was in good condition, and we were able to find good water sources. By just before 11 am we were to the North Lake trail #411, then connected to the Gorton Creek Trail #423. Along this trail we found some rocky cliffs that were covered in brilliant Magenta Penstemon, and bagged our second peak of the day, Green Point Mountain just before noon. We ate lunch outside of a historic WWII signal hut at the Herman Creek Gorton Creek trail junction. At this section we altered route, which turned out to be a great idea, as we found some amazing Avalanche Lilies on our way to Tomlike Mountain, the next peak on our list. I hadn’t seen a pink Avalanche Lily before, but we found a lot of them. We got to the cutoff for Tomlike Mt at just before 2:30, took the Tomlike Mountain Trail, and summited our third peak at around 3:30. I must say, I think this was my favorite of the peaks that were summited. There was just enough climbing and scrambling to make it challenging, but not so bad as to slow us down and put us behind schedule. The clouds were obscuring our view of the mountains that you can see off of Tomlike, but we got breathtaking views of the ridges and valleys around us, and enjoyed an amazing display of wildflowers dotting the peak. It was fun to look back toward Mt Defiance and see the distance we had covered. I have no problem with going back for a redo on a sunny day for this one! We got back to the Herman Creek Trail #406 B, took it to the Chindere Mountain Trail, and were on top of our 4th peak by 5:05pm. The skies had cleared off enough for some nice shots of Mt Adams just over the top of Tomlike Mountain, where we had been earlier, and Mt Hood. In the distance we could clearly see Mt Defiance, the first peak we had summited in the day. We also got a good look at our next peak, Indian Mountain, in the distance. From the Chindere Mountain Trail, we took the Chindere Cutoff Trail, connecting briefly with the Eagle Creek Alternate trail, then the Pacific Crest trail to the Indian Springs campsite, our camp for the night at around 8pm.
Warren Lake at Dawn
Hood From Defiance
Rainy Lake from Greenpoint Mt
Top of Tomlike Mountain
Day 3 Indian Springs to Dublin Lake 17.99 miles
Not sure what time for sure I woke up the next morning, it really wasn’t an area to get a good sunrise in, but Eric had learned the morning before he didn’t need to hurry out of bed, as my morning coffee needs as well as my inability to move before it kicked in game him some extra zzz time. By 7:22 am we were at the Indian Mountain Trail #413. It was a gloriously clear day, and we enjoyed impressive views of Mt Adams, Mt Rainer, Mt St Helens and Chindere Mountain, with Tomlike just showing behind over a field of wildflowers. We found more Avalanche Lilies on the way up the Indian Mountain Trail, with brief spots of residual snow, and made it to the first peak of the day by 8:00 am. We were treated to spectacular views of Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson and Mt Washington, as well as the forbidden territory of the Bull Run Watershed. You could just see Mount St Helens through the overgrown trees, but they blocked the other mountains to the North. The rocky top of Indian Mountain was dotted with wildflowers, and the remains of an old look out tower. We signed the climb register at the top, and began our descent. We had left our camp set up, so we broke camp and were on the Indian Springs Trail #435 to the Eagle Creek Trail by just before 10:30 am This trail is quite steep, and passes through some really cool areas that alternate between rocky Talus slopes and wildflower meadows clinging to steep slopes, and meanders down a wooded ridge line. I had noted the fact earlier that I was going to get to gain all this lost elevation later as I made my way to Tanner Butte. Eric and I parted at the Eagle Creek trail, his planned exit route. I continued on the Eagle Tanner Trail. Okay, so prior to this the trails that we had been traveling were fairly clear of blowdown and encroaching vegetation, but I was in for a real treat!!!! The Eagle/Tanner trail #433 has plenty of both, and I battled my way through it. If you go this route, make sure you wear good trail pants, as the Devils Club is growing nicely, and there are plenty of downed trees to cross. I crossed several smaller streams before I made it to the much talked about Eagle Creek Crossing at 1:00pm, which I made with ease, choosing to put on my sandals and save my trail runners from getting wet rather than fighting the brush to find the rumored log to cross on. The water in the path of my choice was below my knees, and not too swift. It was also a welcome cool off from the jungle safari experience. I climbed over more large trees on the trail, found some really pretty Candystick Plant, and scrambled up some rocky trail. I passed two women who I spoke briefly to, making sure they were carrying pants for the lower part of the trail and recommending they put them on at the first sign of blown down jungle mess, as it went on for a while. At about 4:45 I made it to Thrush Pond, finding some really cool flowers and a small pond with trees reflecting in it. There was a nice path of cut logs through it, keeping my feet dry. I connected with the Tanner Butte Trail at about 4:50 pm, finding more Avalanche Lilies and a bunch of Bear Grass, passing the Tanner Springs trail at 5:01pm. I came across a tree with an arrow nailed to it, looking in the direction to see Mt Hood through the trees. I continued on to the Tanner Butte summit trail, #401c, someone had nailed a piece of flagger’s ribbon to the tree with the trail name on it. It was here I made a not so great choice. I decided to drop my pack behind a tree, as the trail to the top of Tanner Butte really isn’t that long. I took just my SPOT tracker, a water bottle and a snack and my iPhone, like some dumb tourist, leaving the rest tucked next to a tree. I had summited Tanner Butte earlier in the spring, and wasn’t really concerned about getting lost, as there really is only one way down the thing. I made it to the top of Tanner Butte just before 6pm, which was covered in wildflowers, the eight feet of snow I experienced earlier in the spring long gone. The views were amazing, you could see clear to Mt Defiance, and all the peaks I had already climbed. I also could make out Larch Mountain in the distance, one of my future goals. Hood, Jefferson, Adams, Rainer, and St Helens were amazing. I took what is probably my favorite photo ever of Mt St Helens over the sea of wildflowers on Tanner Butte. I started down the trail, making my way to my pack. I was just spotting it when a flash took off from right next to it. I don’t know who was more startled, me or that freaking cougar, but I jumped and it ran. Of course my bear spray was with the pack, I think the cougar was just taking in the nice human smell and deciding if Marti was on the menu. I got the darn thing on as fast as I could, trying to make a lot of noise and look big and scary in the process, stomped down the trail smacking my trekking poles together so I could seem more scary and aggressive, since cougars don’t like to get hurt while they try and eat. I got down to the trail when I heard a sound coming from what would have been the opposite direction that the cougar took, which I suspected and later confirmed via U tube, was another cougar calling to my other cougar friend. I stomped down the trail glancing back from time to time, bear spray ready and in reach, smacking trekking poles together, until I was confident I wasn’t being stalked for a cougar meal. Walking quickly along this area of trail can be challenging, as it is known as Bear Grass Ally, the Bear Grass is growing well in it right now. I also saw a really pretty wild Rhododendron growing along the trail. I made it to Dublin Lake about 8pm, with just enough light to set up camp and make dinner.
Hood and Jefferson from Indian Mt
St Helens, Rainer and Adams from PCT/Indian Mountain Junction
Eagle Creek Crossing
Downed trees on Eagle/Tanner Trail
Thrush Pond
Mt St Helens off of Tanner Butte

Day 4 Dublin Lake to Horsetail Creek 15.79 miles

I woke up early enough to just catch a little of the color of the sunrise through the trees on Dublin Lake. Looking around the campground I was saddened to see a large number of perfectly healthy trees that had been chopped down for firewood. The understory was largely trampled down and free of vegetation, a pile of toilet paper by a tree greeting visitors coming down the trail from above. The fire rings in the area are large and not wilderness sensitive. Clearly numerous users of this area could use a good education of Leave No Trace. I made my way back out of the lake to the Tanner Butte trail, then turned west on the Tanner Cutoff Trail #448. This trail starts fairly level, but soon takes off steeply down towards Tanner Creek. The understory at the start of the trail is still in its early growth, but as you descend to lower elevation that changes quickly. Soon you are beating through Salal and Oregon Grape that threaten to reclaim the trail. The switchbacks have eroded on the corners, the steepness of the trail making sliding easy. The trail is also getting eroded along the edges in places. Soon the vegetation becomes thicker, and several large trees are across the trail. As the trail levels out at the bottom, there are quite a few small streams to cross, the wet area becoming a growing ground for Devil’s Club. This lush area is beautiful to look at, but not so fun to navigate through. One area had giant shamrocks growing in it. Joining up with the Tanner Creek Trail you travel through this lush green area, with a multitude of downed trees and dense vegetation. I was able to use my very rusty fencing skills to fend off the Devil’s Club that rose in my path with my trekking poles. This area was by far worse than the Eagle/Tanner trail. I felt more like I was on a jungle safari rather than a hike. The trail has been reclaimed in some areas by downed tree upon downed tree, and dense vegetation. At some point I started noticing that someone had put up flagging ribbon periodically along the trail. At about 11:00 I crossed a small footbridge across one fork of Tanner Creek that had at some point split, giving you the choice of a high path or low path. Crossing that I encountered another large tree on the trail, and trail that had a creek diverted down it. I ran into a massive snarl of downed trees, but was able to find the trail again. At one point it was easier just to walk on one of the downed trees rather than trail. I finally made it to the Tanner Creek crossing. This one kind of surprised me, as Gaia didn’t show the trail crossing the creek at all where I was at. There were logs across it at an angle that wasn’t great for crossing on, but just enough to be in the way of crossing. I had to plot a course through shallow, less rapid water and navigate around one log and under another to get to where I wanted to be. The water was below my knees and not too rapid. Once again thick vegetation made it easier just to cross there than bushwhack up and down the creek looking for something better. At this point I was hot enough from my jungle battle that I welcomed the creek crossing. Once over I was greeted by more flagging tape that tried to lead the way through yet another tangled, snarled pile of downed trees. From there the trail becomes the Moffet Creek Trail #430. I found a large moth along the trail. At this point it was sort of a repeat of the previous experience, only uphill out of the wet area. Almost to the top I caught a glimpse of Mt Talapus through the trees. I took pictures of the peak that actually looked like it would be really cool to climb, but it is in the Bull Run Watershed, and off limits. Somewhere in here I discovered that I had lost my small bag of energy bar wrappers that I jam down in my pockets as I travel. Given the amount of climbing over, under, around and through trees and brush I had done, it wasn’t too surprising, but it did disturb me greatly. I had to make the choice of going back and trying to find it in the jungle and not having a suitable place to make camp that night, or continuing on. Since traveling at night in this area would have been completely stupid, and given the fact I could have searched for it for hours in the dense jungle mess, I continued on. I hope that someone finds it and is kind enough to pack it out. It wasn’t that much, but I hate that it happened. At one point while filtering water a group of three guys came down the trail. I asked them where they were going, and they told me Dublin Lake. I told them about the trail conditions, which the leader said he was well aware of. Considering that it was after 3 in the afternoon, and I had come from Dublin lake that morning, I hoped they made it. I finally made it to a sign indicating that the Nesmith Point Trail was in 2 1/2 miles. At this point it was about 4:30, and I felt like I was way behind schedule. I passed under some power lines that were over an area that being devoid of trees, gave room for a beautiful meadow of wildflowers to grow. I traveled along what appeared at first to be a dry shale filled creek bed, but soon became a creek with water so clear that the rocks just looked wet when photographed. The light filtering through this area of the forest was beautiful, and I wasn’t able to capture it to my satisfaction. I finally made it up to the Nesmith Point Road, and then my only peak of the day, Nesmith Point. It was a hazy afternoon, making it hard to get any good photos of the mountains to the North, but was able to sort of get one that showed the amazing ribbon of Columbia River to the west. The late afternoon light was pretty on the trails that wind around the Nesmith Point area. I was able to get a photo of Mount St Helens, but the most interesting one was after I left Nesmith, looking back and seeing the end of the point with Mt Adams rising above it, the Columbia far below. The Horsetail Creek Trail #425 travels along the ridge that is high above the Columbia before turning southwest. It makes for slightly disconcerting travel because of the shear drop, but is a hike I would like to do at a more leisurely pace at some time, since at this point it was getting late and I needed to find a camp since I knew I wasn’t going to make it as far as I had planned. I chose found an existing camp a little too close to what appears to have been the eastern branch of Horsetail Creek, but at that point decided I had best make due rather than continue and risk having to find another camp in the dark. That actually turned out to be the right choice, as the next day I didn’t find a suitable site for some time. I made camp and took a couple of shots of the sunset through the trees over the creek. I sent out an ok signal with my SPOT, but unfortunately the canyon that I was in blocked the transmission. My dad was a little freaked out over that one. I had been able to send him a text from Nesmith Point, however, letting him know I was a little behind because of the trail conditions, but still expecting to rendezvous at Angel’s Rest the next day.
Dublin Lake at Dawn
Tanner Creek Trail
Tanner Creek Crossing

Day 5 Horsetail Creek to Angel’s Rest 18.77 miles

I decided to set my alarm to wake me up at 5 am, as I had not made the miles I planned the day before. I wasn’t too far short, I just didn’t want to make it a late one. It is a good thing I did, because I was really very sound asleep when it went off, I think the sound of the creek drowned out the normal bird chatter that would have woke me up. I started packing and went to make my coffee when I realized the plastic cup on my stove was jammed on so tight I couldn’t get it off. After struggling with it for about ten minutes, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Thankfully I got it from REI, and was able to replace it when i got home. So it was cold coffee and oatmeal for breakfast, which probably got the job done faster. I set the oatmeal to soak in a plastic baggie as I broke camp after chugging a cup of creek water cold coffee. Yum! I set out connecting with the Bell Creek Trail around 7:15 am. I think it was around that time I noticed the SPOT was starting to indicate a low battery, so I switched them out. The morning was cold and misty, with low hanging clouds. I picked up the Bell Creek Trail, part of which I had traveled in May last year. It is amazing how much difference a couple of months can make in vegetation growth. This area also has a large amount of springs and creeks flowing through it, and I was traveling for the first time through wet vegetation, some of which was way over my head. There are a bunch of old foot bridges, and the huge old growth trees are amazing. I connected with the Oneonta Trail #424 towards Larch Mountain, and soon came across an old abandoned tree pruner I remember reading about in other trail reports. I started seeing signs warning to stay out of the Bull Run Watershed. It started to rain, and I put on my light base layer shirt and the rain cover on my pack. Continuing on I came to the sign warning the trail users again to stay out of the Bull Run Watershed, then East Larch Mountain Road, and the first pavement since Tuesday. A bicyclist peddled by uphill, and I made my way up to the Larch Mountain parking lot. I ran into a guy who was also backpacking, who asked me where I had come from. It was funny to see his expression when I told him that I had started at the Starvation Creek Trailhead and went on a peak bagging mission heading west across the Hatfield Wilderness. Being around people after four days of seeing less than a dozen was kind of weird. I noticed the strong smells of perfume, and the cars in the Larch Mountain Parking lot just seemed wrong. I was eating my lunch when another guy who was with a woman I took to be his wife strolled over to me after noticing my pack and asked “You aren’t traveling alone are you?” I told him I was, and was armed with bear spray, my usual response to the question. I swear people wouldn’t ask me this if I were a man. I told him I had come all the way from the Starvation Creek Trailhead, and even managed not to get eaten by the cougar I saw. I enjoyed watching his expression with that. Welcome back to civilization. I finished my lunch waiting for the Forrest Service to finish cleaning the restroom they had been cleaning when I had arrived, and then made use of it before going up across to Sherrand Point, then over Larch Mountain, my first peak for the day. I swear I have a curse on me for always picking cloudy days to be on Sherrand Point. I got a partial photo of Hood, and one of St Helens. I texted my dad and told him to start to the Angel’s rest trailhead as soon as he saw me bag my next peak, Devil’s Rest. I also looked up an alternative route that would avoid a lot of people, and downloaded it to Gaia. Then I started down the Larch Mountain Trail. It was about this time I decided that I need better long distance trail shoes, as my feet were starting to complain about the rocks on the trail. I picked up the Multnomah Basin Road and found a large Foxglove. It is a rather steep route, but given the alternative of traveling through throngs of Larch Mountain day hikers, not bad. I also didn’t see anyone on it. I found a small waterfall, before coming to the cut off for Devils Rest. Emerging on the main Devil’s rest trail, a group of guys asked me where the trail I was on went. I told them that it was the Multnomah Basin Road, which seemed to satisfy their curiosity enough they didn’t go explore it. I made it to Devils Rest at 3:14, always anticlimactic since you can’t really see anything, but I wasn’t going to leave it off the list. Taking the Foxglove Way trail to Angels Rest was a good choice as I didn’t see another person until I got to Angels Rest itself, which was, as always, a zoo. It was 4:17, and I was slowing down for the day. I tried to send a live video for Facebook, but for whatever reason, even though it worked in the past, it didn’t work that day. The clouds had cleared off, and I got a couple nice pictures of the Columbia River before heading down my last trail. I am sad to say it took me over an hour to get down the most used easiest trail in the Gorge, but by this time I was out of wind. My feet were not liking the rocky trail that has been worn to concrete, so I took it easy, feeling bad because my dad was waiting for me. I made it to the trailhead at 5:36 in the evening, my final milage count was 75.7 miles, with an elevation total of 17, 614 ft, and a running time of 53hours, 34 minutes. Not my fastest pace but considering the elevation gain and trail conditions, I feel quite fine about it.

If I had any recommendations about this trail, it would be to make sure you are well equipped, have strong navigation skills, leave solid travel plans with a good contact person, know your self evacuation routes and confirm they are passible, wear good trail pants, carry bear spray, and make sure to do it as soon as the snow melts off the highest peaks as I did to avoid Devils Club, Salmonberry, and other vegetation that will grow over the top of your head in the lower areas. The only thing I would do different is find some trail shoes that are more suitable for long distance hiking, as my trail runners were a bit minimalist, and my backpacking boots would have been way overkill. Other than being tired, the main thing I have noticed was the bottoms of my feet are sore, and I got a big blister on the last day. Would I do it again? Heck ya, it was amazing....

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Re: Hatfield Wilderness, Starvation Creek to Angels Rest

Post by mjirving » July 6th, 2017, 7:39 pm

Wow...great report. I love your confidence around the cougar! I’ve never seen one but I’ve seen their tracks in snow before once...by Tanner Butte!

I’m hoping to maybe do that same route this fall.

Mike (aka GoalTech)

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Re: Hatfield Wilderness, Starvation Creek to Angels Rest

Post by Chazz » July 7th, 2017, 9:03 am

Good trip report and great job on getting through the jungle! I really do want to do the Hatfield trail sometime soon.

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Re: Hatfield Wilderness, Starvation Creek to Angels Rest

Post by maryannpdx » July 9th, 2017, 7:03 am

Wow! This is a great report. Thanks.

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Re: Hatfield Wilderness, Starvation Creek to Angels Rest

Post by suebabyshampoo » April 25th, 2019, 1:19 pm

What a lovely hike! I hope eventually enough trails will be open again to complete it. It was nice meeting you at TSC, Marti! :)
A vegan yogini unicorn. I am the Princess of Perpetual Peace, playing in a drama of sad and happy dreams on the stage of eternity. https://empressofcascadia.com/

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