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Lewis River and lower Quartz Creek

Posted: May 29th, 2019, 7:05 am
by drm
Yeah, I just did the Lewis River a few weeks ago. I had planned to do Benson Plateau over Memorial Day weekend, but the weather didn't look good and that's an exposed area for wind and tstorms. Lewis River is as about as sheltered as it comes.

In fact as I was walking down the trail in the rain I noticed that the dense canopy above made for some dry spots. And low and behold, I found a campsite just below Upper Falls that was still mostly dry after three hours of rain. Bingo! No setting up the tent in the rain and spending hours inside of it to avoid the rain. I could set up my camp chair and watch the rain fall. Over the two nights there, they dry area got progressively smaller as the rain soaked the trees above, but I always had a space to sit in.

I hiked virtually the full length of the trail, Curly Creek Falls to Upper Falls (13 miles) the first day. On day 2 I dayhiked the last mile and then four more up the Quartz Creek trail. That got me to Snagtooth Creek and just beyond. Some moderately challenging water crossings on Quartz Creek this time of year. Day two only spritzed a couple of times during the day but rain started about 8pm and went on through half the night. On day 3 going out, it started raining about a half hour before the end. All in all I logged some good miles. No better place for a rainy backpack than the best rainforest in southern Washington.
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Short trail to the road - if you can ford the river
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balanced log is still there, I look for it every year
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Upper Falls, from near my campsite
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Quartz Creek
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big trees here too
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this log is how you get across Straight Creek, two miles up Quartz Ck
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how the same log looks from on top
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Snagtooth Creek, I waded this in sandals - above the knee
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Gotta have a shot of Lower Falls

Re: Lewis River and lower Quartz Creek

Posted: May 30th, 2019, 2:18 pm
by teachpdx
Looks like you had quite a nice trip!

Quartz Creek is on my destination list for a late-season backpack this year. It's been forever since I have been up there, though, and I'm trying to remember about campsites. How are the camping spots a few miles up from FR 90, like between Straight and Snagtooth creeks? Are there lots of options, or are they pretty limited?

Re: Lewis River and lower Quartz Creek

Posted: May 31st, 2019, 6:34 am
by drm
There is a single huge camping area across Straight creek, room for a number of groups. There are a couple of small sites just across Snagtooth Creek, and then more near Quartz Creek on the Quartz Butte trail cutoff. Then there are a couple after the first Quartz Creek ford. It's pretty thin after that. The camps are all where the trail drops down for tributary crossings, nothing in between Straight and Snagtooth for example.

Summer will make the water crossings easy, July should be fine. As it is now, you have to cross some logs that are well above the water and not necessarily so wide. I camped at Straight Creek last year in early July and could easily wade out to the exposed rocks above the waterfall. That would have been a challenge now.

Re: Lewis River and lower Quartz Creek

Posted: May 31st, 2019, 7:55 am
by texasbb
Love that Gotcha tree! I've had a similar dry-in-the-rain experience and it's really nice. The downside is that once the canopy gets saturated, then the rain stops, the drip rain can fall on the formerly dry spot for a while.

Only tangentially on-topic: I was walking in rain in Washington, DC once, in an area where a number of tall buildings were under (re)construction. With dozens of floors of scaffolding overhead, many areas of the sidewalks remained dry, at least for a while. People would deploy their umbrellas in the open, then shut them as soon as they got under the scaffolding. After a while the rain stopped and about then the water finally started making its way through all that overhead structure. It was dry in the open and rainy under the scaffolding. But the DC automatons kept opening their parasols in the dry open and closing them under the rainy scaffolding. It was funny.