A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

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VanMarmot
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A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 4th, 2011, 7:27 am

Last Sunday, I hiked over Table with the intent of exploring the upper Greenleaf Basin but had to bail due to soggy mist, clouds, wind, and poor visibility. With excellent weather forecast for yesterday (yes, it was true this time) I decided to try this hike again. However, after looking over the maps, it seemed I could do a complete circumnavigation of the Basin hitting all of the high points along the way. I’m pretty sure Don (who’s hiked and apparently mapped every trail and track in this area), and maybe Peder, have done something like this, but I wanted to give it a try too. Starting from Bonneville Hot Springs, I followed the Dick Thomas trail (still very muddy in many places), to the road at Carpenters Lake, then up that to the by-pass trail to the PCT, and then on up Heartbreak Ridge to the top of Table Mtn, where I had a great view of Hood on what was rapidly becoming a bluebird day.

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From the top, the view of Adams and Rainier today,

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was quite a bit different than the “view” last Sunday.

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From Table I could see part of my route – down Table’s NW ridge, then up the ridge across South Birkenfeld to Birkenfeld Mtn (the one with snow) and then down Birkenfeld’s W ridge.

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Later, from South Birkenfeld, I could look back for a complete view of Table and its NW ridge.

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The snow on the road portion of the NW ridge route had managed to melt and consolidate a bit more since last Sunday, so walking it was no problem. I had my folding saw along this time and used it to remove a few of the smaller blowdowns from the “trail.” I passed this old snag near the top of South Birkenfeld,

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before reaching the PCT just S of Birkenfeld Mtn.

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I used a mixture of sometimes clear and sometimes faint game and use trails for most of this hike, including getting to the top of Birkenfeld Mtn. The only meaningful snow on this route was along the top of Birkenfeld,

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but it was well consolidated and actually made walking through the trees easier. From the summit, I had another great view of Hood,

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and of the ridge route down to Greenleaf Peak.

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I followed the ridge down to where it intersected an old 4WD road, then followed that road W to a multi-way junction of 4WD and powerline service roads. Rather than continue on roads, I headed due SE along the ridge – a minor bushwhack – to where the powerlines cross the ridge. The use trail (or old trail to the now long-gone lookout) to Greenleaf starts from here. My reward for climbing Greenleaf was a view of an old shed near the top,

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of Birkenfeld Mtn across the Basin,

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and Adams to the N.

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I then backtracked down Greenleaf to the powerlines, and followed their service road down to the SW to intersect with the old road that hugs the W side of the Basin. From here to the base of Greenleaf Falls proved to be the slowest part of this hike. The surface of the old road was a series of moguls that made walking hard and the further along it I went, the worse it got. Although it looked like someone (ATVs?) had tried to keep it open, it was now overgrown and sporting numerous blowdowns and rock falls.

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After about 1.5 mi of this, I struck off due S cross-country to a point on the W side of the upper part of Greenleaf Falls. From the old road to the Falls was the only serious bushwhack of this hike, but it was serious and therefore slow. Don’s maps of his many explorations in this area were invaluable in helping me find the right place to start descending the W side of the Falls. I was able to locate a faint trail down the W side of the Falls, a trail that got better the further down I went, but this descent is not for the faint of heart. There are more than a few spots where a slip or fall would have very (very) serious consequences. :shock: Route finding and swatting at sweat flies kept me fully occupied the whole way down. I was very glad to finally arrive at the lower Falls.

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From there I took the Two Chiefs trail/road back to Carpenters Lake, then the Dick Thomas (still muddy) back to the Hot Springs. Despite the bushwhacking, this was a very fun trip with great views, some good route finding challenges, and a big adrenaline rush at the end :D . The perfect way to spend a bluebird day! 16.8 mi, 5600’ total gain (lots of ups & downs).

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Last edited by VanMarmot on June 14th, 2011, 11:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Peder
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by Peder » June 4th, 2011, 8:12 am

Great hike VanMarmot! I enjoyed the same horseshoe loop over those peaks last November and I have had the route up past Greenleaf Falls high on my wishlist since Guy (and Don) posted about that route early this year. Sadly there was still too much snow when I was in Oregon to go there. For the past month I have been fooling around in sunshine while it has been raining in Oregon, so I cannot really complain! If I get my act together, I will post a little about how not to photograph monitor lizards! :o
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

cfm
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by cfm » June 4th, 2011, 6:15 pm

Cool!

I see from your track you were near the top of the Red Bluffs. Did you get a look at them, or was it all in the trees?

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Don Nelsen
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by Don Nelsen » June 4th, 2011, 8:20 pm

Excellent report and pics! Looks like the snow is finally giving way up there and thanks for the data.

That old logging road down into the basin was destroyed by the DNR a couple of years ago to discourage ATVers. (at huge cost - they brought a giant backhoe up there and must have spent days doing all that damage.) Too bad they didn't just build a good 'tank trap" at the powerline road junction and call it a day - it was a very good road/trail before.

Have you checked out the old RR grades in the basin? Here's a pic taken from Greenleaf's summit in 1929 or so that shows the basin after fire of Sept. 1929. You can even see two of the old RR trestles if you look closely and see where the old skid roads were below the high lines. In fact, the 2" steel cable that pulled logs on the skid road you can see in the pic on the slopes of Birkenfeld is still there. 1,000 feet long and still laying where they left it after the fire.

dn

(One source dates this pic at 1934 but I think it's more likely right after the fire in '29.)

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Here's another view of the basin with Table in the background:

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"Everything works in the planning stage".

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VanMarmot
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 5th, 2011, 7:07 am

cfm wrote:Cool!

I see from your track you were near the top of the Red Bluffs. Did you get a look at them, or was it all in the trees?
I'm not sure where the Red Bluffs are but I did manage to walk right along the edge of the slide - as dangling in space seemed easier than constant bushwhacking. Can you give me the location of the Bluffs?

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VanMarmot
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 5th, 2011, 7:16 am

Don Nelsen wrote:Excellent report and pics! Looks like the snow is finally giving way up there and thanks for the data.

That old logging road down into the basin was destroyed by the DNR a couple of years ago to discourage ATVers. (at huge cost - they brought a giant backhoe up there and must have spent days doing all that damage.) Too bad they didn't just build a good 'tank trap" at the powerline road junction and call it a day - it was a very good road/trail before.

Have you checked out the old RR grades in the basin? Here's a pic taken from Greenleaf's summit in 1929 or so that shows the basin after fire of Sept. 1929. You can even see two of the old RR trestles if you look closely and see where the old skid roads were below the high lines. In fact, the 2" steel cable that pulled logs on the skid road you can see in the pic on the slopes of Birkenfeld is still there. 1,000 feet long and still laying where they left it after the fire.

dn
Don - Thanks for the info on the road and the photos. I was guessing someone used heavy equipment because the moguls went on for a mile or more. They also built quite a berm at the powerline road junction but that obviously wasn't enough. Sorry to say that I haven't seen much else of the Basin or the RR grades - I can see at least one trestle in the photo. Are its remains still visible in the Basin today? Also, how did the RR get out of the Basin - did it continue over the saddle between Greenleaf and Birkenfeld? After all that logging and fires back in the early 1900's it's amazing that the forest has recovered as much as it has. Bruce

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Don Nelsen
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by Don Nelsen » June 5th, 2011, 7:33 am

VanMarmot wrote:
Don Nelsen wrote:Don - Thanks for the info on the road and the photos. I was guessing someone used heavy equipment because the moguls went on for a mile or more. They also built quite a berm at the powerline road junction but that obviously wasn't enough. Sorry to say that I haven't seen much else of the Basin or the RR grades - I can see at least one trestle in the photo. Are its remains still visible in the Basin today? Also, how did the RR get out of the Basin - did it continue over the saddle between Greenleaf and Birkenfeld? After all that logging and fires back in the early 1900's it's amazing that the forest has recovered as much as it has. Bruce
Bruce,

Yes, some of the trestle remains are still there, but not much! As near as I can tell the RR went over the pass between Table and Birkenfeld. There is at least one old map that mentions a tunnel through that ridge but I've been all over it and can't find a thing. The interesting thing is how they got the rolling stock up from the hamilton Creek Valley: An incline straight up the hill - there are remains of three steam engine skids that provided the power and much of the original cable is still there.

Don
"Everything works in the planning stage".

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Eric Peterson
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by Eric Peterson » June 5th, 2011, 11:48 am

Hey Don, when I was up there a few weeks ago I also noticed all that old RR stuff just before
the power line service road. Cables and stuff still up there... is that what's known as Rock Pass on the PCT?

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VanMarmot
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Re: A Circumnavigation of the Greenleaf Basin 03-June-2011

Post by VanMarmot » June 13th, 2011, 4:33 pm

VanMarmot wrote:
cfm wrote:Cool!

I see from your track you were near the top of the Red Bluffs. Did you get a look at them, or was it all in the trees?
I'm not sure where the Red Bluffs are but I did manage to walk right along the edge of the slide - as dangling in space seemed easier than constant bushwhacking. Can you give me the location of the Bluffs?
Found the Red Bluffs. Was SW of them at the top of the slide.

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