Bonneville TH to Three Corner Rock + Table Mountain (May 4, 2018)

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RobinB
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Bonneville TH to Three Corner Rock + Table Mountain (May 4, 2018)

Post by RobinB » May 7th, 2018, 3:14 pm

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Opening picture: Hood from the top of Three Corner Rock

Took a lovely, long-ish ramble on the PCT Friday, from the Bonneville TH north to Three Corner Rock, then back via Table Mountain’s north ridge and the Heartbreak trail. Apart from a few downed logs and some brush on the approach to Table, the trails were all in great shape. There were patches of snow starting around South Birkenfeld, but nothing bad until the north side of Three Corner, where it became both consistent and steep enough to warrant kicking in steps. The only other headache is that there is a very active logging operation on the north side of North Birkenfeld. As far as I can tell, the trail’s still open, and it’s still in remarkable shape, but the whole thing’s still sort of a bummer to walk through.

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Anyway, I got to the trailhead a little after sunrise, and jogged a bit for the first few miles up to the base of Table. This was somehow my fourth on this trail in the last six months, so things were familiar. But still nice to see everything in its spring best.

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After the Westway turnoff, the PCT gets noticeably less well-trodden, but it’s still in great condition.

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Just before it crosses the powerlines, the PCT passes an obvious old wood structure. Anyone know what this is? Something to do with the railroad?

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After the powerlines, the trail crosses another road, then ascends to the southern shoulder of South Birkenfeld, with excellent views, first down to Hamilton Mountain and the Hamilton drainage, then of Mt. Adams.

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Birkenfeld Ridge is just absolutely lovely, and it was a little shocking going from the verdant new spring shoots to the sounds of construction equipment tearing down trees.

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I hadn’t seen anything about the trail being closed, so I continued on, though I did hurry a bit just in case.

Beyond the clearcut, the trail crosses several dirt roads, all with fresh, deep tracks, then contours along (what I’m calling) Three Corner Ridge. The snow drifts here were at least five feet deep, but the perfect consistency for kicking in steps. And anyway, the morning had gotten sort of hot, and I enjoyed a short snow bath.

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The spur trail from the PCT to Three Corner was essentially completely obscured by snow, so I had to GPS it over, but once the way joined the old jeep road there was a relatively obvious cut through the trees.

And once on top, the views were magnificent! Rainier, St. Helens, and Adams were all out, as were Hood and friends to the south. I had lunch sitting in the remains of the old firetower.

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After twenty minutes or so, I reluctantly picked my way down, and started back toward the PCT.

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Why is it that snow always seems to preferentially gather in the trail?

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I jogged through the new clearcut, then paused for a while between the Birkenfelds to enjoy the flowers and intact trees.

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You can’t really tell here, but the lilies were lovely.

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The way trail from the PCT up Table’s north ridge is unmarked, and quite brushy for the first twenty or thirty feet, until it hits the powerlines. Look for a break in the brush where the trail switchbacks on South Birkenfeld’s south shoulder.

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I’d only ever been on the north ridge in the snow. It’s beautiful—and considerably less sketchy—when you can actually see the ground.

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There’s a tiny bit of scrambling to get to the top, but nothing too bad. I don’t even think I used my hands. There’s some exposure that I could imagine being difficult if you’re the sort of person that has trouble with (say) Eagle Creek, but otherwise, it’s a remarkably easy route.

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From the top, I meandered over to the south viewpoint, and had a quick second lunch staring down the Cliffs of Doom.

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Coming down, I realized that I somehow never descended Heartbreak Ridge. Turns out there may have been a good reason. I know there’s room for disagreement on this sort of thing, but I much, much prefer coming down Westway. Something about descending the talus field was just… unfun.

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Once back in the woods, I jogged a bit again—albeit considerably slower than I’d been doing that morning—back to the car as afternoon started to tip towards evening.

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All in all, it was a great trip. With the Oregon side of the Gorge closed, Table has become sort of my standby. With things melting up high, and some of the Oregon side trails apparently slated to open this summer (!!!!), I suspect this might be my last trip up Table for a little, but I’ll definitely be back.

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Chip Down
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Re: Bonneville TH to Three Corner Rock + Table Mountain (May 4, 2018)

Post by Chip Down » May 7th, 2018, 4:37 pm

Impressive, Robin.
You should have posted earlier though; I could have plagiarized much of your Table to 3cr section for my report (I was a day behind you). I may have walked in your footprints from pct to 3cr.

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RobinB
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Re: Bonneville TH to Three Corner Rock + Table Mountain (May 4, 2018)

Post by RobinB » May 7th, 2018, 6:10 pm

Chip Down wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 4:37 pm
I could have plagiarized much of your Table to 3cr section for my report (I was a day behind you). I may have walked in your footprints from pct to 3cr.
Ha, nice! Did you start from Bonneville as well?

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Chip Down
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Re: Bonneville TH to Three Corner Rock + Table Mountain (May 4, 2018)

Post by Chip Down » May 7th, 2018, 7:46 pm

RobinB wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 6:10 pm
Chip Down wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 4:37 pm
I could have plagiarized much of your Table to 3cr section for my report (I was a day behind you). I may have walked in your footprints from pct to 3cr.
Ha, nice! Did you start from Bonneville as well?
Nope. I'm a chubby middle-aged desk jocky. :lol:
I started on the east side of Birkenfeld Mt, came up over the summit westbound, dropped to PCT. TR posted.

Just for fun, here's a pic of a place you saw on your hike, as it appeared in December.
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20171216_133936.jpg

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RobinB
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Re: Bonneville TH to Three Corner Rock + Table Mountain (May 4, 2018)

Post by RobinB » May 7th, 2018, 8:02 pm

Chip Down wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 7:46 pm
RobinB wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 6:10 pm
Chip Down wrote:
May 7th, 2018, 4:37 pm
I could have plagiarized much of your Table to 3cr section for my report (I was a day behind you). I may have walked in your footprints from pct to 3cr.
Ha, nice! Did you start from Bonneville as well?
Nope. I'm a chubby middle-aged desk jocky. :lol:
I started on the east side of Birkenfeld Mt, came up over the summit westbound, dropped to PCT. TR posted.
Oh sorry, I really should have looked for the TR before asking! Looks like a great trip - sort of sad I didn't ramble up one of the Birkenfelds!

Oh, and thanks for the picture. As it happens, I went through in December too:

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