West Side of Adams Backpack 9/28-30/2020

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West Side of Adams Backpack 9/28-30/2020

Post by OneSpeed » October 3rd, 2020, 2:47 pm

Spent two nights along the PCT near Adams last week -- nothing huge to report, conditions overall were excellent. A few blowdowns, and water was a semi issue. Weather was great until Wednesday morning, when I woke up to a bunch of smoke and decided, this being 2020, best to assume the worst and head out a day early.

Was planning to day hike to High Camp or over towards Devils Garden, but didn't see the point if I couldn't see anything and my throat was burning. Even after I got word it was just blowing in from elsewhere, I bailed.

This is a lovely area of alternating burned and unburned forest, with meadows and near-constant views of Adams to one side with Hood, Saint Helens, Rainier, and countless forested ridges to the other. Earlier in the season there would be more water, people and bugs.

Some really fantastic one-ways to do here, with easy shuttles along FS 23. Definitely high on my list for next season.

9/28: Williams Mine Trailhead to Horseshoe Meadow, 6 mi, 1,873' gain.
The last third or so of this was in a burn area from, I believe, around 2015. Fall colors in here were lovely. Also had a grey fox walk right up the trail at me, get within 10 yards, stare for a moment, then hop off the trail, go around me, and continue on down the trail behind me!

Horsehoe was completely dry, which I had been told ahead of time, and the nearest water was a mile past it on the RTM trail, just past the junction for Lookingglass Lake. So add 2 miles and very little elevation (and no pack) to those figures.

Saw seven people this day, total. One other group camped in the meadow.

Gaia track here

Adams 9-28.png
Fall colors.jpeg
Adams Hood View.jpeg
Cam in Horseshoe Meadow.jpeg

9/29: Horseshoe Meadow to Killen Creek Meadow, 9.2 miles, 764' gain, 746' loss
This was a roly-poly ride along the treeline, with the first four miles bone dry to Riley Creek. After that, a couple of creeks were barely running and clear, recharged by rains a couple days before. Lewis River and Adams Creek were muddy and easily crossed, though Adams was a legit balancing act on two logs with fairly high stakes for a fall.

Camped in Killen Creek Meadow, where the best site was taken and the one right by the falls is long (and impressively) decommissioned. Lovely night -- saw two people all day, the other party in camp.

Gaia track here.

Adams 9-29.png
Adams views from PCT.jpeg
East Fork Adams Creek crossing.jpeg
Adams view from Killen Creek Meadow.jpeg
Killen Creek Falls.jpeg
No camping -- no kidding!.jpeg
Camp at Killen Creek Meadow.jpeg
Rainier and lake below Killen Creek Meadow.jpeg

9/30: Killen Creek Meadow to Williams Mine Trailhead, 12 mi, 584' ascent, 2,446' descent
I started out and made Riley Camp at 2:30, saw the smoke was clearing, and briefly considered camping. But (A) it was only 2:30! and (B) once I had thoughts of pizza, shower and bed in mind, there was no stopping me. Did the last 7.2 miles from there is exactly three hours, but saw no water from Riley down to almost the trailhead. Also, some of that was in a burn area, so it was one of those "Put your head down and get it done" hikes. Finished at 6 p.m.

Gaia track here. Didn't take a single photo!

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Re: West Side of Adams Backpack 9/28-30/2020

Post by drm » October 5th, 2020, 7:46 am

Yeah, Horseshoe Meadow is pretty uncrowded when it is dry. A mile is a long way to go for water. The crowds were probably at Lookinglass Lake. I remember when the stream a quarter mile south of the meadow used to be a reliable backup for water. But since the fire, it no longer is: it dries up before the meadow now.

This is the second report I have heard of a fox in that area. A thru-hiker showed me a video he got of one earlier in the season. The cascade red fox is endemic to the Washington Cascades and does live on Mt Adams. The Cascade Carnivore Project does a lot of research on them.

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Re: West Side of Adams Backpack 9/28-30/2020

Post by justpeachy » October 5th, 2020, 2:12 pm

I did the Riley Camp - Horseshoe Meadow loop starting at Williams Mine TH in early August. The wildflowers were AMAZING. On 9/27 Greg and I did the Lookingglass Lake lollipop loop via Stagman Ridge, and Horseshoe Meadow looked WAY different. Lots and lots of brown. What a difference eight weeks makes!

That is SO COOL that you saw a fox! :D

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