Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

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Don Nelsen
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Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by Don Nelsen » March 20th, 2020, 7:18 pm

Kelly and I decided to do the "social distancing" thing and find a hike where likely no one else would be. Wygant - Chetwoot loop filled the bill and we headed out to celebrate the equinox.

The recent snow had almost all melted and we saw only a few leftover remnants starting at about 500':

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By the time we arrived at the west Chetwoot junction, we were both pleasantly surprised to see lots of wildflowers starting to bloom:

The western junction of the Chetwoot loop:

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Even a few grass widows!

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The views were as spectacular as ever and the wind was nonexistent all day with the Columbia as smooth as glass:

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The trail is easy to follow but there are a few spots where the tread is gone and a little bit of adjustment is needed. Here's one of those places:

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There are five big trees down on this loop. Kelly wondering whether to go under or try to get over this one:

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She went under this one:

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This is the only really difficult log - about 3 1/2' or 4' diameter, high angle and nothing to grab onto. It looked like a few folks have forged a boot path up and around the root ball of this one so the problem can be circumvented.

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There's a log over the creek at the Perham crossing but it could use a little stabilization. Still, It worked well.

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This is really a very nice route but is not for the uninitiated. There are a couple of places a flag or two would be helpful but 95% of it is good to go.

dn
Last edited by Aimless on March 20th, 2020, 8:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: corrected typo in subject line
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bobcat
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by bobcat » March 24th, 2020, 7:50 am

Many thanks for this report, Don! Everything I'd seen said Chetwoot was "impenetrable." I took a look at both ends when I was doing trail work on Wygant a couple of years ago, but I didn't really get much of a sense although it got very jungly (that was late spring). I was all set to follow in your footsteps, but now they've closed everything down!

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by Don Nelsen » March 24th, 2020, 10:32 am

If you do the route in the clockwise direction the trail is very easy to follow. With a few flags in only two spots it would be fine CCW too. The tread is gone in some spots and care must be taken but the worst of it is only fifty feet or so. As for the few trees over the trail - Only one on the east side of the route and it has a notch cut into it and a couple of very handy broken branches for handholds. The others are step overs, crawl unders or go-arounds so no big deal.

Too bad about the gorge closure or I'd place a few flags myself, though I'm not much a fan of them.

Thanks for the comment!

dn
Last edited by Don Nelsen on December 13th, 2020, 9:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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arlohike
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by arlohike » November 29th, 2020, 5:13 pm

I did this loop today, clockwise -- that is, splitting off near the bottom of the Wygant Trail and rejoining it at a higher elevation. Don's description was pretty accurate and had me pretty well prepared for what to expect, but I wanted to add some more info in case anyone else is considering this.

On the east side of Perham Creek, the main challenge is following the faint trail through the Oregon Grape. I never lost it, but had to stay alert. There were points where I couldn't see it for more than five steps in front of me, but after taking those five steps, I could see where to go next. There was one fallen tree that created a slight detour, and that was flagged. The final descent for the creek crossing was steep and unstable and I guess is the part that another thread referred to as a "mini slide." Coming down it didn't feel dangerous, being only 10 feet or so above the creek, but coming up it from the other direction would be tricky. The creek crossing was easier than the crossing on the Wygant Trail. Besides the single log shown in the middle of Don's picture, there are three short logs laid side by side, shown in the lower left, that made a nice bridge.

Climbing out of the canyon on the west side is where the real obstacles began. The trail here is on a steeper slope, so fallen trees were much harder to get past. I was pretty ungraceful crawling over or wiggling under them, and I got mud on parts of my body that normally don't get muddy! When I wasn't trying to get past a fallen tree, I was choosing my steps carefully because the surface was often unstable or slippery and the drops were bigger. On the positive side, there was no problem seeing the trail on the west side of the creek. The tree Don showed as presenting the biggest obstacle was flagged, I guess not so much to say "the trail goes here" as to say, "Yes, you really have to climb over this."

I don't know if I'd do this again, but it was nice to satisfy my curiosity, and just enough punishment that I wasn't wishing it was over until a tenth of a mile before it was over. :-)
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Don Nelsen
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by Don Nelsen » November 29th, 2020, 8:47 pm

Arlo,

Glad you had a chance to hike the Chetwoot Loop! What a great day for a hike, too.

You mentioned a log on the west side that was flagged. Is that the only one across the west side of the trail except the notched big one just before the creek crossing?

I hope you wore good thick pants because the poison oak is bad in there, especially on the west side just before the powerline crossing. That stuff can get you even through light clothing, even this time of year. There's still time for some Tecnu if in doubt.

-Don
Last edited by Don Nelsen on December 13th, 2020, 9:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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arlohike
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by arlohike » November 30th, 2020, 4:43 pm

It was a great day indeed, yet I only saw two other people on the Wygant trail, and of course nobody on the Chetwoot. :D

I think you mean the east side of the creek, where I saw the large tree with a flagged detour, and the notched tree. Yes, those were the only big trees I recall. There was at least one smaller tree that was easily stepped over. I also saw several cut logs on both sides -- some recent, some from years ago -- that provided reassurance about the location of the trail.

I didn't notice any poison oak yesterday, although I went up and back to Wygant Peak a few weeks ago and saw plenty. It must have been above the loop where I saw that. On that day, I washed my pants and wiped down my trekking poles with Tecnu when I got home (is that overkill?).
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Don Nelsen
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by Don Nelsen » November 30th, 2020, 5:39 pm

Arlo,

Oops, my mistake - yes, East side. Thanks for the info.

It's never overkill to do all you can to eliminate the possibility of PO contact, IMO. Nasty stuff, that.

dn
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bobcat
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by bobcat » December 11th, 2020, 8:25 pm

Did the Chetwoot a few days ago. Arlohike's post reminded me. It was very easy to follow. Yes, the only testing part is getting over Don's "difficult log" - just a bit of a move, sprawl over the log, commit and shove yourself over with a push off.

The east side of Perham Creek is very easy. Just the one big slump near the creek. On the west side, there are a few logs down and, I think, three slumps. One is like the east-side one - basically accreted soil that was plastered to a basalt wall has slumped down. These are the two places where I think trail reroutes might be in order if they bring this one back. The rest of the trail is on a decent grade.

It took about an hour for a traverse of the Chetwoot, and that includes a bit of sawing and brushing out on the west side. December through March it's easy; may be a little more challenging when things leaf out.

Agree with arlo - the poison oak on Chetwoot is rather minimal compared to Wygant.

Oh yes, and there's the "Trail Closed" sign at the power line corridor on the east side. Dangerous territory and all that. No sign on the west side at the Wygant Trail junction.

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Chip Down
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by Chip Down » December 12th, 2020, 6:43 pm

I'm confused. I tried to follow Chetwoot, starting up the east side ("danger" sign notwithstanding), and found it faded to nothing, no sign of a trail at all. I persisted, searched, nothing. That plus the swarming ticks was enough to send me back down. That was, oh, maybe a couple years ago.

Also ran into a hiker who was wet and filthy, and said he regretted the miserable bushwhack (this was a different day).

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bobcat
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Re: Wygant - Chetwoot Equinox hike 031920

Post by bobcat » December 13th, 2020, 4:59 pm

It was quite easy to follow. I don't think I lost the tread once. Since your off-trail skills are respectable (understatement), I'd say (1) maybe more people are doing it and leaving more of an obvious track; (2) as I stated above, winter is probably the best time. When things leaf out, everything will be a lot more obscure and, yes, ticks are rampant there beginning in about March (maybe earlier).

I don't know if the ticks there carry a different kind of poison, but a couple of people I worked with on refurbishing Wygant got really virulent reactions to tick bites. And there were also the poison oak casualties . . .

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