Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

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airdrum
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Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by airdrum » January 24th, 2011, 11:49 pm

Well I got far too much sleep on Friday night and was a bundle of energy at 5am on Sunday Morning, unable to fall asleep. I decided to take advantage of this late night energy and packed a winter pack for North Lake, some place I had always wanted to go. After a bit of caffeine at the trailhead I hiked up from the Wyeth campground and hit the Wyeth Trail about 8:30.

Obviously things were quiet and I didn't see anyone at the campground or the trail. There was minimal trail damage from the recent storms and floods, just the normal occasional winter blowdown and some rocks that had washed onto the trail. It got cloudy at about 1000.'
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Ah, does misty forests ever get old?
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:?: I ran into a good looking secondary trail that crossed the main Wyeth Trail. It was unmarked but this looks just too good to be a game trail, does anyone know what trail this is?
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The only spot of significant storm damage is right before the springs along the trail near the 3000' level. It appears the floods washed some slide alder/vine maple and devils club mess into the trail. It was easily negotiated but someone needs to spend a couple hours up there with a hand saw. I haven't ever done the Wyeth trail prior to this so maybe it's always this way, but I doubt it given how nice the rest of the trail is.
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Luckily I reached one of the few and hardly noteworthy viewpoints on the trail just in time to catch some light and cloud shows. With a long enough camera zoom, you can find a decent picture in almost every situation.
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And now the creeps-you-out-part. I found this "camp" at around 3200.' This is what I found, just like this, about 20 feet off the trail, in plain view. Is that an emergency blanket back there? Right at this spot on the trail there was a bunch of candy wrappers and beef jerky packaging litter. I yelled to see if anyone was around and needed help, but there was no response. Rather than dig around and investigate I decided it was best to proceed and I set off. With the half assembled tent it seems like someone got away from this camp fast once they heard me coming up the trail (I was singing a bit as I hiked)? I figured it would be gone on my way down but 3 hours later as I passed by the scene was the same. Weird! :?
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whiskey tango foxtrot
Shortly afterwards I heard a hiker behind me, I was half-expecting some creeped out dude coming to beat me up after I discovered his camp but it turned out to be a friendly woman on a solo day hike. She was setting a blazing pace and after exchanging a few words she was on her way.

The snow started soon after as the trail began to level out. Soon it was about a foot deep and after taking my first post hole it was time for the snowshoes which I was glad I hauled up. I brought the smaller snowshoes that belong to my friend along - she's about 50 pounds lighter than me but they were perfect on the consolidated snow, snowshoe win! 8-)

In a bit I caught up with the young woman who had become bogged down in the snow. At this point I learned she turned out to be none other than portlandhikers own jessbe! Cool, I was glad to meet her, I knew she was cool from reading her trip reports! After this we hiked together in search of North Lake and became hopelessly lost.
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Jess navigates a maze of marshy areas and doubtful snow bridges after making the all too common mistake of following Andy
Eventually I broke out my GPS which I had marked North Lake on and headed towards it. Jess broke off along the way opting to follow her footsteps back down. I was about to give up but only a couple minutes later I stumbled upon the lake. It made a nice lunch spot.
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I them stumbled down the trail and started to feel the all-nighter punishment set in, but at least this viewpoint provided me with some great clouds over the gorge!
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When I arrived at the car I drank my just-in-case energy drink I keep in the back (=9 cups of coffee! :oops:) and safely drove back home to a nice shower and about 12 hours of sleep before work on Monday!
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Andy

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jaimito
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by jaimito » January 25th, 2011, 7:07 am

Great job Andy. I did that hike solo the weekend before we did MSH, that first part is switchback hell. I had the same kind of creepy feeling when I was up their as well but mine was over bears, their was scat all over the trail section on that last 1/2 mile or so before the lake and I kept hearing weird things.

Let me know next time your heading out, we should do a hike together it's been a while.

Jamie


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VanMarmot
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by VanMarmot » January 25th, 2011, 8:25 am

airdrum wrote: :?: I ran into a good looking secondary trail that crossed the main Wyeth Trail. It was unmarked but this looks just too good to be a game trail, does anyone know what trail this is?

And now the creeps-you-out-part. I found this "camp" at around 3200.' This is what I found, just like this, about 20 feet off the trail, in plain view. Is that an emergency blanket back there? Right at this spot on the trail there was a bunch of candy wrappers and beef jerky packaging litter. I yelled to see if anyone was around and needed help, but there was no response. Rather than dig around and investigate I decided it was best to proceed and I set off. With the half assembled tent it seems like someone got away from this camp fast once they heard me coming up the trail (I was singing a bit as I hiked)? I figured it would be gone on my way down but 3 hours later as I passed by the scene was the same. Weird! :?
Nice trip and photos. Looks like an early Spring at the lake.

My guess on your trails question is that you're seeing part game trail, part old tread, and (maybe) part switchback cutting. The Wyeth trail used to go pretty much straight up along the creek but was re-routed in the 1980's(?) to lessen the grade by including today's switchbacks. Some parts of the old trail are still visible.

My guess on the "camp" is that someone gave backpacking a try, got freaked, and went home. If all this garbage is still up there in the future, I suppose someone will have to pack it out.

BigBear
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by BigBear » January 25th, 2011, 10:09 am

I would agree with VanMarmot on the possible re-route. The Wyeth Trail to the bench where the trail splits between Green Point Mtn. and North Lake used to be insanely steep. It was a lookout trail and USFS didn't pay their spotters to hike (just to watch for fires).

I haven't been on that trail for years, but I still remember contemplating whether/not I should glissade on part of the descent.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by Don Nelsen » January 25th, 2011, 12:41 pm

Hi Andy,

Great report and pics! I've encountered abandoned camping equipment a few times, too and I agree: creepy!

Anyway, looks like there may have been more than one reroute on that trail. Your post and Big Bear and VanMarmot's comments prompted me to go back and take a look at my track from last summer but also my Green Trails map from 1983.

Here's last summer's GPS track. The current trail is generally in the same location but lots of added switchbacks make it a lot longer. I wondered about that on my hike as it turned out to be about a mile longer than the sign at the bottom said it was.

Image

And here's the same area from the 1983 edition of Green Trails: WAY different:

Image

-Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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romann
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by romann » January 25th, 2011, 7:20 pm

Great report, i've never been on that trail. Want to check it out someday, but maybe later in the spring when the snow melts off.

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VanMarmot
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by VanMarmot » January 25th, 2011, 7:50 pm

Here's a map from the Lowe's 1969 100 Oregon Hiking Trails. Note how the Wyeth trail pretty much heads straight up the hill. Not many switchbacks. They state that the grade reached 60% in some spots!

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I think some of the less careful Gorge guidebooks estimate the mileage to North Lake assuming the old trail instead realizing the newer, longer switchback-laden trail. Makes a difference.

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by Don Nelsen » January 25th, 2011, 8:00 pm

VanMarmot wrote:Here's a map from the Lowe's 1969 100 Oregon Hiking Trails. Note how the Wyeth trail pretty much heads straight up the hill. Not many switchbacks. They state that the grade reached 60% in some spots!

Image

I think some of the less careful Gorge guidebooks estimate the mileage to North Lake assuming the old trail instead realizing the newer, longer switchback-laden trail. Makes a difference.
Thanks Van - interesting, looks like the '69 track is very close to the Green Trails '83 track in the upper section but not the lower. Looks like a great project for the future to see what remains of the original. I'm all for getting uphill on the shortest route - downhill, I'm content with a lesser grade. Why not two routes, one for the uphill and one for the downhill?

dn
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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airdrum
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Re: Wyeth to North Lake 1-23-11

Post by airdrum » January 26th, 2011, 12:57 am

Really cool info, I'm also interested in going straight up this ridge. 60 degrees, that's a fall and you could really be hurt angle, sounds grueling!
Andy

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