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Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 1st, 2024, 2:10 pm
by squidvicious
I've appreciated the updates from others, so I guess I should add my own. But first: the most interesting thing I saw all day was actually just before I got back to my car. A group of guys stripped down to their shorts and were going for a swim in Multnomah Creek at the railroad bridge. In the snow.

I stopped to chat with one of the grounds guys that I've become friendly with, who was watching them. He said he'd called his boss out. He related his boss's reaction as something along the lines of an exaggerated eye roll. I guess that means, "I should chase you off, but I'm losing brain cells just watching you. It's out of season for salmon so you're probably doing yourselves more harm than anything else and I don't want to deal with you." Or something. So there they were.

I wasn't sure what access to expect since the last FS update still said the trail to Benson Bridge was closed. To my surprise, they seem to have actually shoveled a clear path to the bridge. The snow is still melting slowly. It's a mix from bare pavement to full-width sloped snow, though the majority of it had at least a few clear inches along the edge. The worst was at the beginning, between the bridge and the first turn, where this morning I don't think you could (at least shouldn't) cross some bits without spikes. Though even that may have been a different story by midday once the sun softened it up.

I went to the overlook, which was totally clear except the stairs, and then a little ways up Larch. I guess I got as far as Dutchman Falls area before hitting a solid, smooth slope of snow that wasn't giving me consistent grip with spikes. I had assumed it was going to be an out-and-back hike, so that seemed like as good a place to turn around as any. But I would bet after a few more days and a weekend of foot traffic that will be much more easily passable.

Next I walked down to Wahkeena on a fully cleared road. Conditions were similar. Before you even got to the bridge there was a firm and icy slope that I wouldn't have crossed without spikes. The switchbacks were more consistently snow covered than Multnomah but still mostly had a little clear edge. The switchback ends were still very much buried.

I went up past the first wooden bridge, just past the tree across the trail, to another smooth hard slope where the grip got worse. I could see lots of soft footprints beyond that, but without any reason to keep going I called it a day there.

I was half expecting them to reopen the road before I could get back and clear, which has happened to me before. Fortunately I made it, but I'm looking at tripcheck now and I see it's reopened. The return trail from Wahkeena to Multnomah looked mostly OK from a distance, but navigating the mountain of snow at the east end could be a problem, if you're planning to walk between the two.

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 2nd, 2024, 10:55 am
by Petr
Red Shorts really appreciates your report. He is raring to go check out the area above, and Wahkeena is often where he starts out at. Thanks!

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 8th, 2024, 10:39 am
by Petr
Red Shorts cut, brushed, and cleared up the trail 2 miles or so on 2-6-2024. Many people were braving the trail and coming over from Multnomah. He observed many slips, slides, and falls that day. Oh, to be young and indestructible!
Not a microspike in sight, many were wearing tennis shoes.
Below bridge Wahkeena 2624.jpg
Picture of conditions BELOW the bridge.
Paved trail duck under 2624.jpg
Near the top of paved trail.
limbo lower now 2624.jpg
"Limbo lower now". At least one could go under the log. Snow was NOT soft except on surface, offering little grip.
Misstep and you are wet 2624.jpg
Focus needed, think of the consequences should you mis step and slide/fall into creek. How would you get out quickly?
Large tree down windy corner 2624.jpg
Very little snow above the Springs on #415 towards Angel's Rest. This huge tree blocked his way, brambles underneath amd charcoal on the top. He scraped off charcoal and put in a handhold so one could slither up and over. Brushed out brambles and vines underneath and did some Spring brushing in the vicinity. A runner (traceur) came up and ran right at the log, did a (Parkour) dyno move up and over, very impressive!
Red Shorts recommends the Angels Rest trailhead for now, until conditions improve. The Red Shorts Cut Route is now a grade A+ for ease of travel, lack of ice, water issues, and mud, although the Angels Rest approach (C+) is fairly muddy this time of year - almost all the ice/snow is gone for now.

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 8th, 2024, 7:07 pm
by squidvicious
Ha, I was there that same morning and was thinking how much improved and nice to walk on the Wahkeena side was.

I actually started clockwise from Multnomah but turned back at the Wiesendanger switchbacks. Just seemed a lot worse than previous winters, really steep and slick to start up. I gave it a little go, realized I didn't feel like I could back out safely if I got into trouble, and called it.

I walked down to Wahkeena and wound up completing the loop in the opposite direction, with a sit-and-slide for the final yards of the switchbacks. But on my way down Larch I came across a bunch of kids in tennis shoes, who somehow made it through that. I honestly have NO idea how, other than forming a human chain to shove and haul each other up. They did stop to warn me it was "sketchy."

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 11th, 2024, 11:48 am
by Petr
On 2-10-2024, Red Shorts went up and cleared, cut, and logged all the way to the top of Devil's Rest via Wahkeena approach and Primrose Path.
He admits that he did not use microspikes at all that day, although they would have been useful at times.
New big log down Wahkeena 21024.jpg
He could not help but notice that this was the massive tree that had blown down earlier this winter and was cut by a trail crew. Many hikers had traveled below the cut off end, and marveled at the cut off sections below. This tree, with large rootball remaining, has now recently slid down the 2 sections of trail. He doesn't envy anyone who tackles this next!
Sun on huge log windy corner 21024.jpg
It was a sunny marvelous day as he made his way finally above this log at "windy corner" on the #415 trail
(see Rests Report by Red Shorts (trip report) for that story).
Wahkeena boulder fell 21024.jpg
On the way down, near dark, Red Shorts saw this new boulder had impaled itself into the trail. He always wears a helmet in this area but realizes that it would be of little use with a boulder at terminal velocity!

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 11th, 2024, 12:14 pm
by squidvicious
Sunday 2/11 managed the full loop without spikes until the end of the return trail dropping down to the road. Still just a steep mountain of snow that doesn't want to hold tracks.

Other notables:
  • this was the first day I was able to go up at Wiesendanger without spikes. Down might still be tricky. The bottom switchbacks are still under snow and messy, but it's melting from beneath and starting to collapse
  • the Wahkeena side is still full of snow along the creek. Tracked out, but a little loose and slippery in the rain this morning
  • trail damage on the switchbacks up to Fairy Falls. Some from fallen debris, some from people brutally cutting switchbacks in the mud

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 14th, 2024, 6:18 am
by Petr
Red Shorts did what he could on 2-12-24
Filled sb Wahkeena 21224.jpg
"Filled" this switchback cut as people were still using this, even though the trail is clear now.
Horrible sb cut Wahkeena 21224.jpg
The snow has mostly melted, he tried to make some rock steps but MUDDY conditions will likely make them fail.
Upcoming snow , ice, and freezing conditions make microspike use essential, if travel is even possible. I would not try to climb over or crawl under the log at the upper end, given the unstable slope above, one should move through this area as quick as possible. Rocks ARE still falling.

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 16th, 2024, 12:20 pm
by squidvicious
Deep snow, several new trees down, but the big news here is a major slide above Fairy Falls. Hillside has just fallen away, taking a couple sections of trail switchback with it. That's going to be out of commission for a while.

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 16th, 2024, 12:47 pm
by Petr
Closed above Fairy Falls 21624.jpg
On 2-16-2024 about 1030 , Red Shorts closed this trail above Fairy Falls and has already given a preliminary report to Forest Service. More extensive reporting in progress.
He will post more pictures and story ASAP. Thanks to squidvisious for getting out the word so quickly!

Re: Multnomah / Wahkeena update 2/1/2024

Posted: February 16th, 2024, 3:04 pm
by squidvicious
Red Shorts closed this trail
Suspicion confirmed.