Snag Creek Trail & Lost Permutations

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Snag Creek Trail & Lost Permutations

Post by TwoPaw » June 8th, 2021, 11:34 am

Lost in its purest form doesn’t exist. I’m sure others have proclaimed such notions, index finger raised. Lost is preserved in Jurassic bones or amber ants. And there are those lost trails inked like veins on crumbling maps. Nostalgia is Lost as a purified essence.

To get to the point: I was driving my thirty four year old Saab 900S on CG2000 (Red Bluff Rd) in DNRs Yacolt Burn SF - for the first time - aiming for Snag Creek TH using FG directions. Since my sedan is old, and to me the road and scenery was new, I motored slowly.

I intended to hike up the lost Snag Creek Trail (SGT), east along FR41, up to Mowich Peak, then back down PCT.

Glancing back at the road – I cannot tell you where exactly because my odometer is broken – my quietude was interrupted by a fully loaded logging truck barreling straight down at me. I quickly veered into a life saving pullout as the monster blasted out some sort of morse code in a cloud of passing dust.

A few minutes later another fully loaded logging truck. Another pullout. Another life saved. I felt strangely calm. As a child I had watched wide eyed Dennis Weaver being terrorized by a Peterbilt in “Duel” (early Spielberg on ABC Movie of the Week - still one of his best).

Before long I had reached the junction with CG2070 - or not? No markings and no “PCNST Detour” sign (as FG suggests), and of course, no odometer to check against. I pulled right on CG2070 (not knowing such) and bounced through a rough crossing of Rock Creek, after which a sinister, trashed up camp spot leered at me. Peering up the narrow mountainside lane (CG2070 is “Secondary” road while CG2000 is “Primary”) I decided this wasn’t CG2070 (even if it was) because I wasn’t driving my old Saab up it. I’m sure I also had logging trucks on my mind.

Instead, I returned to CG2000, continued driving West … [details omitted]… until returning Eastward on CG2000 where I parked at the PCT crossing. I just wanted to hike …. [more details omitted]… so I returned to my car, threw my DNR Parking pass on the dash, and now walked north on the PCT heading towards CG2070.
DNR sign.jpg
DNR sign where PCT crosses CG2000
PCT entry.jpg
Pullout on CG2000 next to PCT north.

And soon none of the above mattered - one of the points of hiking, no? I gently descended through a lush landscape to the stunning clear pooled waters of rushing Rock Creek, myself crossing on a massive wood lam bridge lending a faint air of creosote. Now ascending again, I marveled as I sometimes do what a slender tread the PTC makes as it weaves through its less popular areas, despite all the boots that share its path.
Looking down at Rock Creek from PCT
Immersed in these thoughts I soon found myself at the southern end of the SGT.

Hallelujah! This trail had snagged my imagination after reading Don Nelson’s recent posts and earlier FG write ups. And though the hour was far later than planned, I happily hiked north along SGT - an official FG Lost Hike - as it paralleled its namesake waters.

Soon SGT junctions with CG2070. Don described turning left and walking a couple football fields to find it’s continuation through an old clearcut. I walked a bit past this, of course. It was easier to spot coming back down the road where I recognized the unsigned trail post (the left half of a former pair.)

From here on the hike is pretty much as recently posted, including Don’s handiwork clearing logs.
You have to pay attention but there’s no real issue making out the way. The slash and burn clearcut as captured by VanMarmot in 2014 is now beginning to fill back in. Then the trail becomes more apparent as it climbs through pleasant woods. Down below on CG2070 I thought I heard another logging truck, and spotted a plume of diesel exhaust.

After a series of switchbacks where the trail levels out I saw this apparent mile marker, also noted on previous TRs.
There's also a 1
From here, SGT increasingly earns its lost title as the lush growth at times comes close to obscuring the path. On this lost and ancient pathway, I imagined the ghosts of hikers who passed before me.

And then there – now nowhere - stood one of the beloved DNR signs so many have posted about. One can’t help but marvel at the thirty slats of wood slotted together, twenty-three hand lettered in a wood shop somewhere - a high school project perhaps – paid for and made of the very timber that grows here? Of course they don’t craft signs like this anymore (and we are sorrier for these lost acts of charm).
The Sign
Forlorn on this lost pathway this creation reminded me of directional signage one might see within the restricted lands of Chernobyl or Fukushima.

And so it went. I could discern the fading path - some old flagging Boy Scouts apparently put out decades ago helped. And then I hit a wall. To my eyes the path simply petered out. Disappeared. Lost.

Had I a GPS unit I might have pulled it out and plowed on. If I was less hungry, I might have gotten serious with the compass and bushwhacked.

Instead I sat and ate my cheese sandwich and ruminated. There was plenty of daylight left but I had lost boatloads of time. If I continued too far and erred I would be without a sure path in hand. In the end I could tough it out but these things can take time. With mild reluctance I decided to return back down SGT. I wouldn’t gaze afar from Mowich Butte that day, or even see Mowich Camp (once called Ten Mile Camp). But I planned to do the Sedum Ridge/PCT loop anyway soon as my Discovery Pass expires in July.

Nibbling, I brainstormed a reroute of upper SGT, staying east of the little creek and arcing around towards point x3353 before turning north to FR41, but soon continuing up to Mowich Butte to facilitate a full loop with PCT. (And it turns out this is pretty much what VanMarmot did in the snow.)

The luxury of time. Descending SGT I took in greenness and the flowers. I noted little blue markers. I heard the wind blow through the trees. It seemed easier to follow a faint trail going downhill; perhaps my perspective of the terrain below is better than when looking upwards.
The Marker
The Flower
The Mushrooms
The Wild Rose
Arriving back at CG2070 I opted to stay on the road, then hook right to return all the way on PCT rather than going back on this portion of SGT.
Looking down CG2070. Sign says 54 ton limit. No visible scales up the road.
First, I needed some more water and so I cut over a berm into the thick woods where the road crosses Snag Creek and took a leisurely break. It’s a lovely spot where I admired a wanna be petrified mushroom.
The Lost Mushroom
Snag Creek
Lost Trees over Snag Creek
This little pocket of paradise reminded of Duncan Creek, a verdant scene amongst harvested forests. Duncan Creek is also a “lost” hike but you’ll never miss its well worn path and the only mystery is which of the three apparent starting points to take. So there is lost and there is lost.

Refreshed I finished up my hike. Nearing the end a bouncy, speedy woman and her male companion passed me by - the only folks I would encounter that day. She briskly asked if I had lost a blue chemo bandana four minutes back on the trail. By golly I had and returned to retrieve it. Given the good graces of fellow hikers all is not lost.


Final note: though the PCT bridge over Snag Creek is still out it no longer has a detour status. In 2012/3, a reroute down CG2000 and up CG 2070 was put in place. Now this is regarded as a doable crossing. This explains why there is no longer a “PCNST Detour”sign at the junction of CG2000/2070. And it shows how little respect Snag Creek trail gets, for PCT hikers could have more easily detoured up it to CG2070 and then turned right to descend back to PCT to resume northbound. Perhaps the planners were relying solely on a map which didn’t indicate how a DNR road now continued over Snag Creek?
Screen Shot 2021-06-08 at 11.46.27 AM.png
The reroute

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Snag Creek Trail & Lost Permutations

Post by Don Nelsen » June 8th, 2021, 12:20 pm

Very nice and well-written TR! I'm glad the logging trucks didn't get you - those guys can be aggressing at times.

Sorry you couldn't continue and do the rest of the trail but you are so right about it being easier - much easier, IMO - to navigate a faint trail in the downward direction. I'll be going back to place a sign on that old post in a day or two and may continue up the trail and hang a few more flags. With more boots-on-the-ground the trail just may earn a return from lost trail status.

I think you lucked out not finding road 2070 at first. The section of the PCT from road 2000 to the Snag Creek Jct. is very nice.

Thanks for the great photos!

"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Chip Down
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Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: Snag Creek Trail & Lost Permutations

Post by Chip Down » June 8th, 2021, 3:50 pm

Don Nelsen wrote:
June 8th, 2021, 12:20 pm
Very nice and well-written TR! I'm glad the logging trucks didn't get you - those guys can be aggressing at times.
True, but I've seen the opposite too. I was headed up a road and noticed a truck stopped ahead of me, coming the other direction. I got out and asked him if he was waiting for me. He was. We discussed opportunities to pass on the narrow road, and even though I was driving the smaller more-agile vehicle, he was very gracious and accommodating and patient. Of course, it's possible the whole time he was shaking his head and muttering "damn hikers".
The luxury of time.
Yeah, a failure often comes with that consolation, a leisurely return with opportunities to linger and explore.

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Re: Snag Creek Trail & Lost Permutations

Post by bobcat » June 11th, 2021, 8:58 am

Wow! Snag Creek is suddenly getting a lot of love! Thanks also for your updates of the Field Guide information!

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