To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

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bobcat
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To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by bobcat » December 4th, 2021, 9:43 am

This was an attempted exploration some of the “primitive” connector trails in the wilderness to assess their status in the wake of the Big Hollow Fire. The Trapper Creek Trail, as confirmed in the TRs of others, was in good shape, with just a couple of trees down, but the creeks were high. At the Soda Peaks junction creek, I took a high narrow log across (on the return, I simply sloshed across in my boots and warm socks). The Big Slide Trail was to be my return on the aborted lollipop. (Fire maps say it escaped the blaze, so I assume it is navigable.)

Warning sign, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Creek at Soda Peaks junction, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Log crossing of the junction creek, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Sign at Big Slide Trail, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Basil Clark Mineral Springs sign at Deer Cutoff junction, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg

The Deer Cutoff mostly escaped the blaze, but the creek above the multi-tiered waterfall was running high and a huge log had crashed down, damming the creek and creating a new pool. I used the log to clamber across as it was blocking the trail anyway. An outlying patch of the fire had burned the slope on the west side of the creek, but soon I was back in mossy woods.

Mossy passage, Deer Cutoff, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
View to the damming tree, Deer Cutoff, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
Tiered waterfall, Deer Cutoff, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
Basil Clark Deer Cutoff sign, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
Burn area, Deer Cutoff, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg

The Sunshine junction looked pristine (I righted the trail sign, whose post had snapped), but not far up the slope I hit the fire zone, here mostly a slow-burning ground fire that had eradicated the understory. There was never much of a bench on the Sunshine, just a scratch of a path through the moss and salal, and with the vegetation gone, the tread was vague or nonexistent. I resorted to picking out Basil Clark badges as I traversed the slope. Things got worse – big trees down, canopy fire, crumbling slopes, loose rocky gullies – and this was even before the Sunshine turns up a steep ridge to meet the Rim Trail. At the pace I was going, and given the time of my start, I knew I wouldn’t make the loop, now essentially a scrambling bushwhack, before darkness. (The fire map has the entire length of the Sunshine, except for the bottom 100 yards or so, in the burn.)

Lower end of Sunshine Trail, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
Rays up, Sunshine Trail, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
Sunshine sign, Sunshine Trail, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg
Spidery sun, Sunshine Trail, Trapper Creek Wilderness.jpg

I took the Trapper Creek Trail below the Deer Cutoff on the return, visiting the creek and staring up at the old growth canopy. A large nurse log bridges one of the creeks, and I traipsed across, dodging the baby hemlocks, my traipsing steps skidding on a slick spot and flinging me, at the far end, into a headfirst plunge into the creek, my pack straps tangled around my neck and over my head, my camera dunked in the stream. My hat cushioned the impact of my skull on a (thankfully) flat rock. Reclining in the current, I slowly took stock of the situation, contemplating the possibility of serious injury. Then I clumsily extricated myself and dried off the camera, sloshing the three miles back with a stiff neck, a slowly growing lump on my noggin, and yes, yet another lesson learned (never too old) – log crossings in the wet season are dangerous high wire acts. Resist the urge to traipse! Your feet are probably wet anyway – just wade across the stream (wool socks are excellent insulators)!

Tall Douglas-fir, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Log passage, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Trapper Creek, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg
Nurse log bridge, Trapper Creek Trail.jpg

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Charley
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by Charley » December 4th, 2021, 10:15 am

You buried the lede!

Falling from a log into a creek sounds like a nightmare. I'm glad you came out ok.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by Don Nelsen » December 4th, 2021, 10:39 am

Thanks for the report and photos! That's a trail I've yet to hike so looking forward to giving a try.

That's an interesting log bridge, too. I know of some others like that but the one in our photo looks dangerously high to fall off.

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Don Nelsen
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by Don Nelsen » December 4th, 2021, 10:43 am

Charley wrote:
December 4th, 2021, 10:15 am
You buried the lede!

Falling from a log into a creek sounds like a nightmare. I'm glad you came out ok.
As they say in Oslo: "It could be worse" Just do it in really high water and it would be a very short nightmare :shock:

Here's one I crossed during the height of the deluge Nov. 12th:
Winter Bridge 111221.JPG
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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BaileyBoy
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by BaileyBoy » December 4th, 2021, 10:50 am

Gee, that's a serious fall and of course one in which you had no control which is seriously frightening. You're a strong fellow to be able to walk back out after the fall and I hope you're okay now - my wife would have insisted on a concussion visit to the doctor. Thanks so much for the update, I had that hike on my upcoming agenda but I'm an old-timer and won't risk it now. I really love that wilderness and all the trails that are in their not to mention the elk and sometimes deer plus cougar. Years ago my dog George went off trail barking and I found a partially eaten elk in the brush.
Please take care of yourself and don't forget to bring your PLB from now on.
Skip

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BaileyBoy
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by BaileyBoy » December 4th, 2021, 10:51 am

Don you're crazy but have some seriously excellent balance.

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bushwhacker
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by bushwhacker » December 4th, 2021, 2:59 pm

Yikes. Lucky with that fall. If I remember correctly, with the thickness of that log plus the 3 foot gap from the log to the water that must of been quite the tumble.

I was there yesterday also. Went up Big Slide then took a left on Observation and got up to the junction with Sunshine before hitting my turn around time.

Big Slide got burned towards the junction with Observation but flagging is in place to lead you through.

Upper Sunshine got burnt as well but a lot of it was ground fire.
IMG_1790.JPG
upper sunshine junction
Only thing that didn't get burnt was the Sunshine sign.
IMG_1791.JPG
upper sunshine junction
Good luck finding the Sunshine Trail.
IMG_1792.JPG

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Chip Down
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by Chip Down » December 4th, 2021, 5:48 pm

Reclining in the current, I slowly took stock of the situation, contemplating the possibility of serious injury.
Something tells me it wasn't quite that casual. ;)

I've been known to don crampons for log crossings (not carried for that reason, of course).

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Don Nelsen
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by Don Nelsen » December 4th, 2021, 8:45 pm

Chip Down wrote:
December 4th, 2021, 5:48 pm
Reclining in the current, I slowly took stock of the situation, contemplating the possibility of serious injury.
Something tells me it wasn't quite that casual. ;)

I've been known to don crampons for log crossings (not carried for that reason, of course).
I use micro spikes for wet logs on bushwhacks. I highly recommend them for that and also for steep ascents of fir and hemlock needle covered slopes and stream crossings on slippery rocks.

Bobcat, glad you weren't injured more than a few bumps! That fall could have ended much worse.
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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drm
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Re: To the Sunshine Trail (Trapper Creek Wilderness) 12-1-21

Post by drm » December 5th, 2021, 7:56 am

It's been some years since I hiked Sunshine and it was a steep and eroded route then, reminding me of the worst sections of the Ruckel Creek trail. I avoid those trails these days as my agility is not what it once was. But you can't avoid wet logs in these parts. My poles help when it is slippery. I have pondered putting on micro-spikes for log crossings, but have never done so yet. But I think it is time to put them in the pack for the winter.

Glad you're okay from the fall. I once took an awkward off-trail forward fall down a talus slope on Adams, smashing my knee against a rock on the landing and was kind of amazed when I was able to walk it off. My first thought on that landing was that I was happy I had told somebody where I was since I thought crawling back to camp would be the best I would manage.

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