Elk Cove trail

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Chip Down
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Elk Cove trail

Post by Chip Down » August 25th, 2019, 7:17 pm

I posted a TR for some Coe/Barrett shenanigans in the off-trail section, but here's a mini TR on Elk Cove Trail.

I was a little apprehensive:
Low TH in August means bugs, heat, crowds. And I was even a little worried about finding the TH and following the trail in the dark. USFS had planned to completely reconfigure this area a few years ago (Nat Geo jumped the gun and incorporated changes into their map, which is why I call it my Dewey/Truman map).

Found the trailhead okay, had no problem with the Pinnacle Creek crossing where the bridge is long gone, headed up the abandoned road. After a while, I remembered this is an old road, so I need to watch for the spot where the trail leaves the road. Hoped I hadn't missed it. No problem at all, the road is so overgrown it wouldn't be possible to miss the start of the trail, even in the dark. Last time I was here, you could pretty much drive the road with a Jeep. Those days are gone.

Timing was good; sun was peeking through clouds at the horizon around the time I had some nice views.

At Coe Overlook, things sure look different. Last time I was here was 2010, I think. Before the fire. I agree that late-day lighting is better here, compared to early morning light. I especially liked seeing sunlight spilling through the Barrett/Pulpit gap and illuminating a section of Coe Glacier.

I got lost on the way down from Elk Cove. Well, not exactly lost, but I started to realize there was no way I was above the Timberline Trail. I was perplexed. How could I possibly step over it and not know? Google Maps confirmed my error, so I turned and trudged back up. Just now, looking at the map, I realize what I did wrong. That's very gratifying. Could have been a lot worse; at least I stopped at the first inkling something was wrong, rather than sticking to my guns.

Lightest pack I've carried in ages. Nothing other than essentials, plus an extra shirt in case it got chilly up on the glacier in the morning, plus more water than I needed. And, of course, a couple pints of beer.

Even pre-dawn, it was rather warm, but well before Cove Overlook it was getting breezy, and that continued all day, to the point of being annoying (but in August, it's hard to complain about a little wind).

Not a single pesky bug, even at dawn/dusk when there was little breeze down low.

Other parties: saw no less than a dozen people as I passed through the cove, and that was still early (7:30-7:45). But not a single hiker seen on Elk Cove trail both ways, except a couple hunters who were probably surprised when I passed them at about 5:30am. They said it was opening day (bow). I guess the solitude isn't surprising. I returned to my car right at headlamp o'clock, which is a bit later than most hikers prefer.

My time from TH to Timberline Trail was about 2.5hrs, which equates to 2mph. I wasn't exerting myself, nor was I dawdling. I didn't check my descent time.

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markesc
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by markesc » August 26th, 2019, 4:45 pm

Cool thanks for sharing!

Never actually hiked this one, but ready to change it up! How was the road from Lawrence lake to the TH itself?

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Chip Down
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by Chip Down » August 26th, 2019, 6:02 pm

markesc wrote:
August 26th, 2019, 4:45 pm
Cool thanks for sharing!

Never actually hiked this one, but ready to change it up! How was the road from Lawrence lake to the TH itself?
Very short, only a mile I think. I recall it was slightly brushy, but not to the point of being a paint scratcher. Decent road surface, virtually any car could handle it (e.g. a Civic would do just fine).

Since I'm here, I'll mention the trail is in fine shape, well maintained. There are some trees down up at the high end; when you start having to go over/under/around, you're almost to Elk Cove.

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markesc
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by markesc » August 26th, 2019, 6:38 pm

Yeah I'll have to check it out. Been going from Top Spur to Barret and back in a day... Wouldn't mind shaving off some miles and the # of cars @ top spur is just insane. Wondering what the miles difference really is between the two to elk cove?

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teachpdx
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by teachpdx » August 27th, 2019, 6:46 am

markesc wrote:
August 26th, 2019, 6:38 pm
Been going from Top Spur to Barret and back in a day... Wouldn't mind shaving off some miles and the # of cars @ top spur is just insane.
Have you considered heading up Barrett via the Vista Ridge trail? It's about a mile shorter with around 1200' less elevation gain than via Elk Cove.
instagram: @robo_remy

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ElementalFX
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by ElementalFX » August 27th, 2019, 3:11 pm

Thanks for the report!

Were there any patches of wildflowers left at Elk Cove? And the hippie heads/dr. Seuss looking flower seed pods? (Western Pasqueflower)

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Chip Down
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by Chip Down » August 27th, 2019, 6:44 pm

ElementalFX wrote:
August 27th, 2019, 3:11 pm
Thanks for the report!

Were there any patches of wildflowers left at Elk Cove? And the hippie heads/dr. Seuss looking flower seed pods? (Western Pasqueflower)
Not that I recall. But I never go hiking for flowers, so I may have been oblivious. I noticed flowers on Barrett because they contrasted with the grey. I'm sure there must have been flowers in the cove, but I can't be specific.

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mjirving
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by mjirving » August 27th, 2019, 8:05 pm

Yep Chip...oblivious. Western pasqueflower were everywhere. :lol:
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markesc
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by markesc » August 28th, 2019, 5:37 am

teachpdx wrote:
August 27th, 2019, 6:46 am
markesc wrote:
August 26th, 2019, 6:38 pm
Been going from Top Spur to Barret and back in a day... Wouldn't mind shaving off some miles and the # of cars @ top spur is just insane.
Have you considered heading up Barrett via the Vista Ridge trail? It's about a mile shorter with around 1200' less elevation gain than via Elk Cove.
Less parking area, and I doubt my car will make it, but it does SHOCKINGLY well on gravel compared to a wrx (money pit/never buy!) that was modified :lol: I don't mind a longer trail in exchange for either a shorter drive and/or less masses of people that are a distraction from the creative endeavor of photography, and simply just enjoyment.

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markesc
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Re: Elk Cove trail

Post by markesc » August 28th, 2019, 5:38 am

mjirving wrote:
August 27th, 2019, 8:05 pm
Yep Chip...oblivious. Western pasqueflower were everywhere. :lol:
They remind me of something out of a Dr. Seus book/film

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