Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

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Chip Down
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Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by Chip Down » March 10th, 2019, 6:43 pm

Saturday 3/9/2019

Eastbound on SR14, it was getting a little sketchy just west of Cape Horn, so I scrapped my plans and decided to do the Cape Horn trail instead. Parked next to a sporty little abandoned Volkswagon with a tow sling still on the front end, and looked for the poorly marked trail down, and the trail up on the other side of the highway. I had forgotten this is just a connector trail, and the Cape Horn trail passes under the highway (just as it does at the main trailhead to the east) so there was no trail headed up on the north side of SR14. Headed down/south, there was a closure sign right at the TH, but fortunately it was covered in snow, so I could pretend I didn't see it. No, actually it's legal to go partway down. After a couple nice viewpoints, I reached the closure. There wasn't really a barrier, just a little sign. And it was a rare opportunity to do the loop with a perfect amount of snow, scenic but not hard to walk in. And there was almost no chance of getting caught, especially so early in the day. So I did what most of us would do: grumbled about the damn birds, and turned back.

Headed back up, I passed the spur trail that would lead to my car, and continued up the trail, passing under the highway. It started to snow again, or maybe it was just snow blowing out of the trees, but it wasn't big clumps the way tree shed often is. Nearly all day this would continue, even when it was fairly warm and sunny and you'd normally expect slush to be sloughing off. It was like the fun of hiking in the snow, but with no real fear of a horrible drive home.

I'd been worried about somebody beating me to the Russell overlook, the elaborate crown jewel of this hike. I knew I would be the first from my side, but would somebody beat me to it from above? I reached the viewpoint sooner than expected, and found virgin snow. Soon, a dog joined me, and I knew people would follow. Amazing timing. As expected, I found they had come the other way, not behind me.

I continued up to that stretch along farmland, which I'm sure is a dreaded section for summer hikers, but it was beautiful in the fresh snow (been here one before when bare, but even that day was nice, with dark clouds setting a somber mood).

At Strunk Road, I had forgotten how to proceed, but then found the long straight section following a row of trees that must have been planted all at the same time, along a property line.

Soon came to a junction with a utility road, and vowed to follow it later, but first I followed the standard route. It was fun to watch two sets of footprints, and wonder about the decisions that led them to make odd route decisions. As I dropped towards the main eastern TH, it warmed, and the trail grew muddy through the snow, and the trees were dripping. I aborted at a switchback where it was easy to cut over to the powerline road.

After some exploring, I trudged up the steep powerline road. It was bit of work, but I was glad to be out of the drippy trees, and with no trip hazards in the snow I could enjoy the scenery and trust my feet to find their way. I passed the point where I had easy access back to the trail, continued on the utility road a ways, then decided the deep snow was more work than it was worth for the meager views, and cut back to the trail, and soon arrived at the upper Strunk TH.

I paused at Strunk Road because there was a gate I could sit on, my first dry break of the day. It was sunny, and the pavement was wet. Snow was blowing from the trees, but as before, it was pretty dry. I walked down Strunk Road looking for a way to access Zion Mt and the microwave (?) towers. Looks like there's only one way, via a private road, so I headed back. Water was flowing fast down the pavement, like it would during a heavy rain.

Followed the trail back to Russel viewpoint, where I found rare solitude. I had a pack full of heavy clothes, so I bundled up for a long break where I drank beer and enjoyed the view and just killed time.

I was maybe less than an hour from the car, and it was still early, so I headed west in search of a more adventurous way down. Poking around here and there, I ran into an old USFS sign prohibiting motorized vehicles, and spotted a 6x6. There must have been a road/trail out here at some time. Dropped a bit, but it was so thorny that I veered back east as I dropped, and ran into a trail of sorts. No footprints in the snow. I was excited at my find, but it soon merged with the Cape Horn trail, and I realized my discovery was just one of the equestrian loops. I sat at a bare grassy overlook where I could look into the gorge, until the view bored me and I got restless.

At the bottom, after passing under SR14, I continued down to the first viewpoint I had visited in the morning. It was completely bare.

If I had slept in, I bet the roads would have been bare and I could have done Plan A, but that's okay, a snowy Cape Horn was actually quite fun, no regrets.

Damn birds. :roll:

Pics are chronological.

Lots of beer pics, will add in a second post so they won't be a distraction to the non-beer-inclined readers.
I don't often take pics from the road, but this was a nice spot to pause and check out the view (Cape Horn overlook on SR14)
This is the abandoned-road part of the hike.
My favorite pic of the day. Simple, pure, peaceful.
Headed up the powerline, clouds parting.
Oh, Angels Rest can be seen from here! I didn't know.

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Chip Down
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Re: Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by Chip Down » March 10th, 2019, 6:48 pm

obligatory text
No, it's not supposed to look like this. Found in Mom's garage, 7 or 8 years old. Yuk.
Nice scenery, but needs a bit of color. I enjoyed this more than expected. Would like to try it fresh, but not planning on being in Brussels any time soon.
Lowlife degenerates. These were fresh, just a few hours old at most. Also a big bag of garbage.
Amazing. Sadly, I bought just one. Rhubarb and potato in a rye saison, aged on oak chips.
Another weird challenging beer. Not bad.

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Re: Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by aiwetir » March 11th, 2019, 1:37 am

So you drank 7 beers?

Cape Horn was the first place I ever really looked at Angel's Rest from. I've generally ignored it for the last 24 years but for that one time I went up there.
- Michael

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Don Nelsen
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Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by Don Nelsen » March 11th, 2019, 5:57 am


Thanks for an entertaining TR. Your writeup makes even a pedestrian hike sound interesting. Too bad about the snowy road derailing your plan A - see, there's an advantage to getting up later :)

From reading your second post, it looks like you only had three beers? I suppose you didn't drink the first one and the Coors triplet was someone's trash. Looks like good hydration to me ;)

I got up at 6 this morning to get a good start on changing my ways. It's been five years now catching up on the sleep I lost while at school and at work for those many years. I think I'm about done with that so time to catch a few sunrises.

"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Joined: March 5th, 2019, 6:08 pm

Re: Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by emy1885 » March 11th, 2019, 6:55 am

I saw the same car with red tow straps 3/9 on my way to Lyle Cherry Orchard, lol.

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Chip Down
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Re: Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by Chip Down » March 11th, 2019, 4:24 pm

Seven beers?! Goodness, no. My record is 6.5 :D
Don is right, just three.

Don, I didn't really mind the change of plans. I was just going to do Archer, so no big loss. I wasn't willing to drive up Smith-Cripes (or whatever, you know the one).

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retired jerry
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Re: Cape Horn after the last(?) snow of the season

Post by retired jerry » March 14th, 2019, 9:40 am

I am ready for the snow to do some melting

Nice to see all these snow trip reports

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