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GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 2nd, 2021, 7:56 pm
by mjirving
2021.01 - Eagle Creek

“Post-fire opening” 
1/2/21

Miles: 13.6
Time: 5 hrs, 55 min
Avg MPH: 2.3
Elev Min: 100’
Elev Max: 1,400’
Total Ascent: 1,540’
Start Time: 7:15am
Temp Low: 45
Temp High: 50
Other hikers: 135
Wildlife: None
Verizon Cell Service: Only at trailhead
Approach Road: Paved
Parking Permit Required: NW Forest Pass
Parking Lot: ~20 at the trailhead
Bathrooms: Port-o-potties

Punchbowl Falls * Tunnel Falls * Twister Falls * 7 1/2-mile camp

Opening Shot: Tunnel Falls
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I heard yesterday that Eagle Creek opened for the first time since the big fire three years ago. I texted my buddy "Clark Kent"  and we quickly hatched a plan to meet at the trailhead at 7am, for a dawn start. We arrived as scheduled with a half dozen cars already in the lot. We started at the first hint of light in the rain at 7:15am. Right off the bat we had to duck under a few significant blowdowns. Fortunately, they were mostly easy to duck under due to the nature of the steeply walled trail. With the heavy rains, the waterfalls were really running. 
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While there were certainly charred trees, I found it to be a very mosaic burn with a lot of green around. Far from the sterile look on Nick Eaton Ridge further east in the Gorge. 
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There were several water crossings. The first was Sorenson Creek. It was close to impossible to keep dry feet. 


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Here is the massive rock pile that collapsed just down from Punchbowl Falls. 
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Punchbowl Falls was running with a lot of water as you’d guess. 
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I think this is a new bridge over Tish Creek...fact check me on both of those. It seems very robust.Image

The bridge plate for you nerds out there.
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This seems to also be a new bridge, perhaps at Fern Creek?Image

Here’s a wide view of a side waterfall. Image

Looking back at a log jam and the creek. Image

Getting close to High Bridge.Image

More falls. 
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The epic slot canyon path to High Bridge. Image

The new bridge at High Bridge. Image

Looking down-creek from High Bridge. Image

Some blowdown clearing. Amazing sizes!Image

Wy’East Camp.Image

Crossing Wy’East Creek...Image

...with Wy’East Falls in the back. Image

Approaching Tunnel Falls. Image

One of the iconic rock overhangs along the trail. Image

Tunnel Falls ahead. Image

Tunnel Falls.
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Here’s a video of walking behind Tunnel Falls. 
https://vimeo.com/496523274

The Falls from the other side. It’s amazing every time I’m here. Image

Twister Falls is just around the corner. Image

"Clark" coming up to the head of the falls with a long way down to the creek below. Image

This pool just above the falls looks like a jacuzzi...probably not quite as warm. Image

Our turn-around point was to be 7 1/2-mile camp. It looked pretty much as I had remembered it. It took us 3 1/2 hours to get here but we definitely stopped to smell the roses along the way. We saw about 10 hikers on our way up as we all started around dawn. Image

Here’s another waterfall above Twister. Image

Here’s a video clip of going down past Twister Falls. 
https://vimeo.com/496522909

The cliff trail just below Twister. Image

Heading back over 4 1/2-mile bridge. Image

Fire damage view approaching High Bridge. Image

Heading back over High Bridge. Image

Look at the size of this blowdown “javelin” that landed just above Punchbowl Falls. Image

Getting back close to the trailhead. Image

At the trailhead with a sign commemorating all the work done to get this trail back open. 
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We got back an hour faster, so it was a 6-hour round trip hike to 7 1/2-mile Camp. It rained the whole way. I had rigged up my chrome-dome hiking umbrella to my pack so I had hands-free coverage for my whole hike so I was comfortable in my hiking shirt over a thin merino wool top, staying dry. We saw about 125 people on the way down, so about 135 people for the entire hike. 

I was impressed with the condition of the trail. There were about 25 blowdowns, but they were all pretty easy to simply walk under or scoot over. Most of them didn’t even require breaking your stride. Kudos to everyone who worked to get this trail open. It was great to be back!

Summary:A great day to be back on the trail at Eagle Creek! A nice welcome to the New Year!

Favorite experience of the day:Roaring Tunnel Falls

Least favorite experience of the day:The 125 people on the way out

Today's route:Image

-GoalTech[email protected] (Instagram)

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 2nd, 2021, 9:08 pm
by Chip Down
That was one of the more interesting EC reports I've seen. I hadn't heard the grand reopening was upon us. Honestly, I doubt I'll ever see it again (in person).

So, 125 people...how many on a warm sunny spring weekend? Maybe 500? Well, no, I guess the parking lot will be the bottleneck.

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 2nd, 2021, 9:44 pm
by mjirving
I forgot to mention about the parking. When we left everything was packed out to the hatchery with people parallel parking on the frontage road. I imagine it’s worse since no one is really carpooling with Covid.

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 2nd, 2021, 10:32 pm
by Don Nelsen
A great report and photos. Thank you!

dn

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 3rd, 2021, 4:20 am
by AlpenGlowHiker
GoalTech, that's a name that I haven't heard since I read Wired's PCT blog from the PCT, in 2017 I think. She actually inspired me to get back out there after a 20 year hiatus.

Anyway; awesome trip report, I really appreciate the detail and the photos! Alas, I have fond memories of Eagle Creek as a Boyscout, but as ChipDown mentioned, I doubt I'll see it in person again. It's just too popular now.

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 3rd, 2021, 6:12 am
by retired jerry
great report

now, we don't have to go there and endure the crowds :)

actually, a year from now mid week would be fine

were people wearing their covid masks?

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 3rd, 2021, 6:49 am
by MarkInTheDark
Excellent report and photos mannnnnnnn! Thanks! Sure is cool to see Eagle Creek again!

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 3rd, 2021, 11:12 am
by mjirving
AlpenGlowHiker wrote:
January 3rd, 2021, 4:20 am
GoalTech, that's a name that I haven't heard since I read Wired's PCT blog from the PCT, in 2017 I think. She actually inspired me to get back out there after a 20 year hiatus.
Ha...guess who I texted first about the opening? Wired. haha. I'll let her know about your inspiration. Thanks for the comment.

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 3rd, 2021, 11:15 am
by mjirving
retired jerry wrote:
January 3rd, 2021, 6:12 am
were people wearing their covid masks?
I'd say about 90% were wearing masks, and people were pretty considerate about doing their best with spacing by stepping to the side when possible and donning masks during passings, etc.

Re: GoalTechHikes Eagle Creek 1/2/21 - Post Fire Opening

Posted: January 3rd, 2021, 12:35 pm
by retired jerry
The Eagle Creek trail has a lot of narrow places that are hard to pass people even in non covid times