Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

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VanMarmot
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Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 27th, 2011, 7:12 pm


Last February, I hiked the East Ridge of Kings Mountain (http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/vie ... &sk=t&sd=a). My post generated a number of responses, among them one from Eric Peterson with a Mazamas map of various hiking routes in the Elk-Kings area (http://mazamas.org/pdf/maps/Elk-Kings.pdf). It showed a route up the W Ridge of Elk which seemed like a good way to do a different loop of Elk and King. So with a chance of rain in the forecast, I switched my day off to today so I could try this loop under dry conditions. Heading out 6, the fog bank ended just beyond Banks and by the time I reached the Kings TH, the sun was out.

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The approach to the W Ridge of Elk is the same as that for the E Ridge of Kings – NNE on the Wilson River trail from the Kings TH to the bridge, then NW alongside the creek for about 1000’ to the base of both ridges – left to Kings, right to Elk. The route up Elk seemed more obvious than that up Kings – game trails were clearly evident right down to the creek.

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Going up was just a matter of getting on the crest of the ridge and staying there – following game trails as much as possible. There are a few rock outcrops along the ridge, but these can be easily by-passed by following game trails around them to the right or left.

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Unlike the E Ridge of Kings, there are no exposed traverses or scrambles on the W Ridge – just follow the game trails through the trees and up – roughly 2200’ in 0.7 mi. But there are a few flat spots on the ridge where you can take rest on a less than near vertical surface. Right at the top of the ridge, I ran into the cliff just below Elk’s summit,

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but a contour 50’ to the left brought me to the main trail to the summit.

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From the summit of Elk, I could look back down almost the entire length of the W Ridge. The arrow marks the start of both the E Ridge of King and the W Ridge of Elk together at the bottom of the canyon.

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Even though it involved some bushwacking, the W Ridge seemed less steep and less demanding than the usual route up Elk from the campground. From the summit of Elk, I did the usual traverse over to King, noting that there was no snow to speak of the entire way. I stopped along the traverse to get a view of Elk and its W Ridge (with Hood in the distance),

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of some small flowers growing in the open area just NNE of Kings’ summit (in January?),

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and of Adams (far left) and Hood (far right).

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Then on to the summit of King

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and back to the TH. I saw no one between the TH, Elk, and Kings and then 3 people on the descent of Kings. It was a warm day and I was over-dressed (January?) but otherwise it was all good. About 10 mi and 3700’, with a little routefinding required on the W Ridge.

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ponyboy84
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by ponyboy84 » January 27th, 2011, 7:35 pm

Great Report, but I have a question. I see lots of these TR's about traversing between Elks and Kings in what appears to be bushwhacking. Isn't there a standard trail route between the two peaks?

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by Eric Peterson » January 27th, 2011, 7:38 pm

Awesome!

This route is also on my to do list for this area, nicely done. :)

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VanMarmot
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 27th, 2011, 7:51 pm

ponyboy84 wrote:Great Report, but I have a question. I see lots of these TR's about traversing between Elks and Kings in what appears to be bushwhacking. Isn't there a standard trail route between the two peaks?
Yes there is now. It started as a rough use trail but has evolved - with much work by the Mazamas - into a pretty good trail that is relatively easy to follow and has no bushwhacking. The descent immediately off Elk is rocky and can be tricky if wet or icy. A good part of the middle is on old roads and is straightforward. The section just below the ridge before Kings is steep and slippery in spots (there's a helpful short rope in one spot) but evident (if, however, there's snow, that section can be a real challenge). But on a dry, clear day in summer - it's a great hike.

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ponyboy84
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by ponyboy84 » January 27th, 2011, 7:54 pm

Awesome, say you want to out and back up Elk, is that trail pretty sketchy going down?

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Roy
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by Roy » January 27th, 2011, 8:12 pm

Nice report Van what a day! I have been throwing around some ideas for a next week . I was thinking MSH rim from Marble Mt but you got me thinking :D

Thanks for sharing I guess the weather gods will decide for me.

-Roy
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

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VanMarmot
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by VanMarmot » January 27th, 2011, 8:17 pm

ponyboy84 wrote:Awesome, say you want to out and back up Elk, is that trail pretty sketchy going down?
Which trail? The West Ridge isn't a trail but if you stick to the ridge you could follow the game trails back down. The main trail to Elk is really steep and loose in a lot of spots and, to me, a real pain to descend. I've descended it twice and it wasn't fun either time. Last time I did just Elk, I traversed over to the Elk Creek Trail (mostly road) and descended that - no views but much easier on the knees.
Last edited by VanMarmot on January 28th, 2011, 11:56 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Eric Peterson
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by Eric Peterson » January 27th, 2011, 8:42 pm

I was thinking MSH rim from Marble Mt but you got me thinking
Oh man, I want to do that! Never done St. Helens and right now the timing might be perfect
with clear weather and a nice solid snow pack!

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Peder
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by Peder » January 27th, 2011, 9:36 pm

VanMarmot - Interesting trip report and great pictures. One more for my "to do" list when I get back home. I'm stuck in Asia till mid-March and have yet to hike this year... :(
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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mayhem
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Re: Elk Mtn (W Ridge)/Kings Mtn Loop 27-Jan-2011

Post by mayhem » January 27th, 2011, 9:46 pm

Way too cool! Thanks for sharing.
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