Early Timberline Trail Attempt

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ghsmith76
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Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by ghsmith76 » June 21st, 2019, 9:35 am

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It was a great effort to complete Timberline Trail loop for the 3rd year in a row, but Snow and Weather dictated a different outcome. Scheduling this year required that I attempt the Timberline Trail on June 17th. Yes, a bit early but I knew there would be rewards of clear skies and few people. However, I did not think the snow depth on the Northeast side would create such a problem. Combine that with a snow storm emerged from the gorge when we would have been crossing the high point and we had to adjust to a Top Spur extraction. Overall it was an Epic Adventure because I have never seen the views so clear and brilliant, rhododendrons blooming and nobody on the trail.
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This is my annual trek to evaluate how old my body feels and I am very pleased with the results. My main concern for completing the loop was the severity of the river crossing, but they were totally acceptable. I can't believe I didn't worry more about the snow pack on the north side. It wasn't that you could hike over the snow, it was how it created severe inclines over what was the trail and then it engulfed the trail. We made it to the Wy'East area clockwise from Timberline Lodge before we determined that we had to abort. Of course we had already met 3 backpackers who had turned around. I do think we could have made it if it wasn't for the weather. All week the forecast just kept getting worse with the prediction of snow. And the forecast turned out to be more than accurate which made for a tough night at Eden Park and the hike out to Top Spur.
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Knowing that the best weather was at the beginning I decided to do my traditional clockwise route from the lodge and boy am I glad we did. Paradise Park was amazingly beauty and it looked like we may have been one of the first to spend the night up there.
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We almost got a great sunset but the sun hitting Hood at the different intensities is just as good. Unfortunately we did have fairly high winds at our Split Rock campsite and then we got a couple of hours of rain starting at sun up.
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The weather cleared to give us a perfect hike down to the Sandy with the most amazingly clear views of the Sandy River headwaters up to Mt Hood.
The river crossing was challenging but we did not have to get very wet.
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Of course Ramona Falls was glorious and the hike up to Top Spur junction was hard since we took the lower Muddy Fork route where one from our party exiting to the Ramona Falls TH.
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The second night we camped at Bald Mountain with a perfect night for sleep. Climbing up toward McNeil we were treated to a beautiful view of Hood, but fog and clouds were forming.
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This is when the snow pack got higher than I expected. Not a real problem until about Eden Park where it became more treacherous and difficult to find the trail. The rest of the way over to Wy'East only got more difficult, but it was still beautiful because the storm was forming to the north and Hood was backed by blue skies.
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Wy'East was the decision point because you have cell reception there and we had to coordinate for someone to extract us. We decided on Top Spur for the following day hoping that maybe we could get to McNeil Point.
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But no, the weather started to deteriorate and we were happy to camp at Eden Park. The snow started to fall at 2 am and it was a cold wet mess for the rest of the trip out.

Full Trip Report Blog Post at Adventure Continues https://adventurecontinues.org/2019/06/ ... -june-2019
GHSMITH76
Blog:AdventureContinues.org

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teachpdx
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by teachpdx » June 21st, 2019, 9:43 am

Thank you so much for posting this!

I'm was hoping to hit up Paradise Park for a night this weekend, and your report confirms that it just may be possible. That little bit of snow should melt off pretty quickly.

How were the bugs around Paradise Park? If there were any, I'm sure they didn't like the recent snowfall.

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ghsmith76
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by ghsmith76 » June 21st, 2019, 11:31 am

No bugs on the Timberline yet.
GHSMITH76
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retired jerry
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by retired jerry » June 21st, 2019, 12:11 pm

I was up there a couple days before, almost to Cairn Basin

Yeah, still a lot of snow.

Sounds like a good adventure regardless

LittleWench
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Joined: June 20th, 2019, 3:29 pm

Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by LittleWench » June 21st, 2019, 4:09 pm

Appreciate your report. Planning to backpack the loop July 8-12 if conditions improve by then.

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Chip Down
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by Chip Down » June 21st, 2019, 5:48 pm

I knew you were planning this trip, and knew we got snow last week, but didn't put them together in my mind until now. Sorry you didn't make it, but what a great adventure!

Opening pic is fantastic. Had a little trouble placing it, but then realized I went to the bottom of that waterfall last year. Possible I've never been on that section of trail though.

Webfoot
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by Webfoot » June 22nd, 2019, 5:30 am

Thanks for the report and photos. That opening shot is an amazing spot; here's another photo by hov from last September

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ghsmith76
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by ghsmith76 » June 22nd, 2019, 9:35 am

Chip Down wrote:
June 21st, 2019, 5:48 pm
Opening pic is fantastic. Had a little trouble placing it, but then realized I went to the bottom of that waterfall last year. Possible I've never been on that section of trail though.
So how did you get to that waterfall. The photo is taken from the trail coming down from Paradise Park. But that area behind the waterfall looks intriguing and I would probably want to check it out someday.
Greg
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OregonSurveyor
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by OregonSurveyor » June 22nd, 2019, 10:28 am

Hi Greg,
Your photo of that waterfall brings back a great SAR story from June 2017. Two young ladies from Oklahoma were NOBO on the PCT, hoping to go from TLL to White Pass. After leaving the Paradise Park area and heading down to Ramona they missed the first hard left turn and inexplicably thought they needed to go tumbling straight ahead down that steep, sandy slope to the river (just upstream of that falls). Once there, they could not go up or downstream because of falls. Neither could they climb the loose slopes they had tumbled down. They were stuck! If not for cell phone coverage, the outcome would have been tragic!
The Clackamas County Sheriff transferred the call to me (a first for me, and kinda put me on the hot seat), saying, “You know that area, can you talk them out of there?”
Due to bad connections my message to them was concise. “Your only way out is the way you came down; if that can’t be done, STAY PUT, we are headed your way and will be there by 10AM.”
We came up from Ramona and deployed 950’ of fixed line and hauled them up the hill!
I remain good friends with these two adventurers and am happy to say one just got her Wilderness First Responder certificate and is leading adventures for youth in Thailand today!
So, yes, that is a rugged and difficult to access canyon!
Jerry King
Oregon Land Surveyor (Retired)
SAR Volunteer - PNWSAR

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OregonSurveyor
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Re: Early Timberline Trail Attempt

Post by OregonSurveyor » June 22nd, 2019, 10:36 am

Photo from the June 2017 rescue.
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Jerry King
Oregon Land Surveyor (Retired)
SAR Volunteer - PNWSAR

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