BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

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greenjello85
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:31 pm

BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

Post by greenjello85 » September 10th, 2018, 9:39 am

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I went on an overnight backpacking trip around the bull of the woods wilderness 9/8-9/18. I started at the Elk Lake Creek trailhead and made a loop via Welcome Lakes trail to Mother Lode and then back down Elk Lake creek. I didn’t record a track but I think it’s around 20ish miles?

* If you choose to follow this route, please be confident in your route finding skills and be prepared. The trails are rough, overgrown, and sometimes seem to disappear completely!*

The lower part of Elk Lake creek is in pretty good shape walking through some nice forest. There are a couple short off trails to reach some falls on Elk Lake Creek itself. There’s also a few small creek crossings as well.
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The trail deteriorated quickly once I turned onto Welcome Lakes trail. This area was burned pretty badly and it’s interesting to see how things are progressing. The whole slope is now covered in rhododendrons, huckleberries, and fire weed. A lot of the dead trees have fallen but some remain. It opens the views up a lot. The brush and fallen trees made for some tough route finding and slow going. Lower Welcome lake mostly escaped the fire and is still quite beautiful. The upper lake is my preferred camping destination because its perched on a cliff providing some nice views across the valley. I wanted to knock out some more mileage. I continued onto the ridge leaving the burn area and, passing the intersection with the officially abandoned Geronimo trail which looked like it might be in better shape than the Welcome Lakes trail! I camped at a nice but dry spot just west of the junction with the Dickey creek trail (Might be called Schriener peak at this point?)

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Cool rock was sitting in the middle of the trail?

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Huge ant hill

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In the morning, I continued along the ridge onto the Mother Lode trail passing through a small burned area with some nice views before descending into the basin. All the creeks in the basin were dry except for a few small pools. I love the park like forest down here with some nice old growth. I climbed back out up onto the end of Mother Lode mountain where there is another cool viewpoint looking north to the BOTW watchtower ridge. After passing the Twin Lakes trail, the Mother Lode descends QUICKLY. There’s a lot of blow down and the trail nearly disappears in spots. I took my time and picked my way through it before reaching the lower crossing of Mother Lode creek where the creek had re-appeared!

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No creek here!

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Looking back towards the watchtower from the southern part of the Mother Lode

I passed through the Battle shelter area and turned onto the Elk Lake Creek trail. It’s reasonably well marked but easy to get turned around in here with all the camp sites, creek crossings and old trails. This area has some magnificent big old growth. There’s a couple that are probably 8 feet across! It’s really a beautiful example of a healthy forest with a wide variety of young and old trees. The rest of the Elk Lake Creek trail passes a few talus slopes with vine maples but is mostly in the forest with a beautiful creek never far away. There’s some nice cascades, and several deep pools to cool off in. By one of the pools, I saw the only people of this entire trip.

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Twin Towers! Around 6’ diameter

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Small cascade on Elk Lake Creek

RobFromRedland
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Re: BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

Post by RobFromRedland » September 10th, 2018, 4:19 pm

Neat trip report and photos. I was there a year or two after the fire (2012) and things have certainly rebounded quite nicely. The Welcome Lakes trail took quite a hit in that fire. The upper lake was "charcoal" (as someone relayed to me). The lower lake escaped part of the fire and looks much better. I found your comment about the Geronimo trail interesting. I've only hiked it once, and I was afraid the fire might have made it disappear - I hope it is still there. Although it is steep, it is a very direct route and also interesting.

Here is what lower Welcome Lakes looked like before the fire (2010):
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And here is part of the Welcome Lakes trail right after the fire:
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I'm glad things are recovering nicely.... I need to get back in there and check it out.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

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justpeachy
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Re: BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

Post by justpeachy » September 10th, 2018, 5:55 pm

Great report and very timely! Two weeks ago I day-hiked the Elk Lake Creek Trail from Elk Lake to the former site of the Battle Creek Shelter and I was looking at the map to see where all the area trails went and where they connected up, wondering what shape they were in and how things looked. Now I know for at least some of them!
Cheryl

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greenjello85
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Re: BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

Post by greenjello85 » September 10th, 2018, 8:08 pm

RobFromRedland wrote:
September 10th, 2018, 4:19 pm
Neat trip report and photos. I was there a year or two after the fire (2012) and things have certainly rebounded quite nicely. The Welcome Lakes trail took quite a hit in that fire. The upper lake was "charcoal" (as someone relayed to me). The lower lake escaped part of the fire and looks much better. I found your comment about the Geronimo trail interesting. I've only hiked it once, and I was afraid the fire might have made it disappear - I hope it is still there. Although it is steep, it is a very direct route and also interesting.
I went in 2015 as well and it was basically just fireweed. The rhodies are now everywhere and I imagine spectacular in the spring! Cool to see the changes over a few years.

Do you know if there were any established camping sites on the lower lake before the fire and there approximate locations? Last time I visited it, I couldn't find a trail so I just bushwacked down to it from the SW side and didn't see any sites that looked too promising although the lake itself was beautiful.

As for Geronimo, I've seen both ends so finding that bit in the middle can't be too hard :lol: I'm hoping to give it a try next summer. I don't think welcome lakes has been maintained at all by the forest service so I imagine Geronimo will be in similar condition.
justpeachy wrote:
September 10th, 2018, 5:55 pm
Great report and very timely! Two weeks ago I day-hiked the Elk Lake Creek Trail from Elk Lake to the former site of the Battle Creek Shelter and I was looking at the map to see where all the area trails went and where they connected up, wondering what shape they were in and how things looked. Now I know for at least some of them!
Thanks! I started from Elk lake before as well. The forest coming down from there is really great! I remember the old boardwalk bridges were interesting as well. I looped up the mother lode over to twin lakes, and then back down to the lake.

On this trip, I ended up at the wrong crossing spot over Mother Lode creek so I might have wandered on to the old alignment of the Mother Lode trail and the new one might be better? I know it seemed to be in WAY worse condition than it was a couple years ago. I'm like 50% at hitting the right crossing :oops: Easy to get off trail in burns when everything looks the same.
~Dan

RobFromRedland
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Re: BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

Post by RobFromRedland » September 11th, 2018, 5:39 am

greenjello85 wrote:
September 10th, 2018, 8:08 pm
Do you know if there were any established camping sites on the lower lake before the fire and there approximate locations? Last time I visited it, I couldn't find a trail so I just bushwacked down to it from the SW side and didn't see any sites that looked too promising although the lake itself was beautiful.
I'm not sure - there WAS a trail down to the lower lake - the junction was kind of hard to see (very brushy as I recall), but once you found it the trail down to the lake was reasonably good. When my daughter and I hiked it we totally missed the junction and ended up camping at the upper lake (which is more of a swamp really - the mosquitoes were TERRIBLE). We went back that evening and found the junction and went down to the lower lake to explore it a bit. I don't remember seeing anything terribly definite as far as campsites go - certainly nothing like what was at the upper lake. The trail kind of went up the west side of the lake and then just kind of stopped.

Here is what the upper lake campsite looked like prior to the fire - it was a nice campsite:
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And then after the fire - not much left:
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Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: WOW-What a ride!

greenjello85
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:31 pm

Re: BOTW Overnight 9/8-9/18

Post by greenjello85 » September 12th, 2018, 10:16 am

Thanks for the info Rob. It's crazy to see what it used to look like up there!

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