Nick Eaton loop

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Chip Down
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Nick Eaton loop

Post by Chip Down » February 2nd, 2019, 10:21 pm

This could almost go in the off-trail forum. Borderline.

From Wyeth, I drove 2 miles west on Wyeth Rd until it topped out at 600'. Ditched the car (well, not literally) and headed south until I hit the trail, which I followed west, then the standard route up to Indian Point. Saw no point in visiting IP again, continued east on Gorton Creek Trail, past Deadwood Camp (an especially appropriate name now), and climbed up to the ridgecrest at 3000'.

Trail was gone. okay, it's a ridgecrest, I don't need a trail. Around 3400' I gave up, headed west to find Nick Eaton ridge. Hit it at a great place, right where it levels out and becomes very distinct.

Ascended the Nick Eaton ridgecrest, past the "missing" Casey Creek Trail junction (it might be easier to spot when snow is gone), and up to the end of Nick Eaton, where it rejoins Gorton Creek trail. Continued up Gorton Creek Trail to Plateau Cutoff Trail. Aborted. Wanted to hike the loop trail on the plateau above North Lake, but that would be quite a challenge in the snow, and it was getting late. Nice place to turn back, no reason to feel bad about it.

On the descent, considered following Gorton Creek Trail, but I had lost it on the ascent, so probably foolish to try it again from above. That section where it's off ridgecrest is tough to follow in snow. So instead I continued north on Nick Eaton, retracing my steps to where I had gained the ridge on my ascent, then took a spur ridge westbound, parallel to Camp Creek.

That no-name ridge is fantastic, steep enough to be interesting, but not scary. Sometimes rocky, sometimes broad and covered in duff. Occasionally brushy, but no big deal. Found a glass salt shaker. Why?! This is way off any established route. Why would there be a glass salt shaker here? Came to a step that forced me into a descending traverse, and never really got on crest again. Too bad, it looked fun, but I just couldn't spare the time, had to hustle down on the fastest route. Veered north, joined camp creek, followed it (very briefly) to Herman Creek Trail. Never been here. Nice trail.

Followed Herman Creek Trail north until the junction where I could walk east towards Wyeth. Darkness fell, and finding the right spot to leave trail and bushwhack to my car was tricky, but I pulled it off almost perfectly (part luck, part skill).

Overall, amazing fun day, much harder than expected, worth the effort. Balmy, wore a light long-sleeved tee shirt all day, hat/gloves were essentially for bushwhacking, didn't really need them for warmth. Misty at start, but rose above the clouds at maybe 1600'ish on the way to Indian Point
Attachments
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Why is there a salt shaker on this obscure ridge?
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Would have been a nice spot to linger, but I was in a hurry. Gorton Creek Trail a bit below the plateau.
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random Nick Eaton Ridge pic
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random Nick Eaton Ridge pic
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random Nick Eaton Ridge pic
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random Nick Eaton Ridge pic
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Way off trail. I can't imagine this is man-made or natural, but it must be one or the other.
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One of the neat spots on my descent ridge.

pablo
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Nick Eaton loop

Post by pablo » February 3rd, 2019, 8:42 pm

Nifty outing and nice report - you covered a lot of ground. The descending ridge you took looks interesting as does the ridge to the north of it. Likely in better shape and easier to follow than Casey Creek Trail.
This could almost go in the off-trail forum. Borderline.
Maybe, until you took off on that ridge to Herman Creek.

The sign on the tree for the Casey Creek junction still exists although the letters have been burned off - did you see it? There is a report from Don Nelsen with a photo of it.

How much snow did you encounter in various places?

About the salt shaker and the cairn - I suspect in the 100+ years of people scrambling all over the Gorge there is plenty of stuff out there. I'm not surprised.

Thx,

--Paul
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

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bobcat
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Re: Nick Eaton loop

Post by bobcat » February 3rd, 2019, 9:01 pm

Great exploration! The cairn looks like the one on the high point of Nick Eaton Ridge, but that's pretty close to the trail. Can't attest to the significance of the salt shaker.

Where you lost the Gorton Creek Trail is where it turns off the ridge to cross the talus slope. However, that section on the ridge was hard to find even last summer. It got obscured during the fire.

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Chip Down
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Re: Nick Eaton loop

Post by Chip Down » February 4th, 2019, 5:39 am

pablo wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 8:42 pm
Nifty outing and nice report - you covered a lot of ground.
Maybe even more than I reported! I was looking at my map and something didn't look right. I reported I stopped at a junction around 4200', but I remember it being 4600'. I checked the pic I took at my turnaround point, which included my altimeter, and sure enough, my memory was right, 4600'. Which means I must have walked past a junction without noticing it, which is certainly plausible. And the map shows 4600' at the next junction. It kinda bugs me that I misinterpreted my location... :|
pablo wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 8:42 pm
The descending ridge you took looks interesting as does the ridge to the north of it.
Yes, I noticed some great open terrain on the ridge north of Camp Creek. It's on my list. I bet you'll beat me to it though. :lol:
pablo wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 8:42 pm
The sign on the tree for the Casey Creek junction still exists although the letters have been burned off - did you see it?
Nope.
pablo wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 8:42 pm
How much snow did you encounter in various places?
It varied wildly! It was getting a bit deep, but then when I joined Nick Eaton ridge the crest was bare. As I ascended the ridge it went from bare to deep to bare to deep. I was unable to explain why. I would be walking along a bare trail and then encounter deepish snow, when nothing had changed that would explain it. Well, I mean nothing I could understand. Clearly there's a reason; it's not a magic trail.
pablo wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 8:42 pm
About the salt shaker and the cairn - I suspect in the 100+ years of people scrambling all over the Gorge there is plenty of stuff out there. I'm not surprised.
Yeah, but the thing about the salt shaker: People who carry glass salt shakers to their campsite are usually not the types to travel steep off-trail routes.
bobcat wrote:
February 3rd, 2019, 9:01 pm
The cairn looks like the one on the high point of Nick Eaton Ridge, but that's pretty close to the trail. Can't attest to the significance of the salt shaker.
Oh, okay. I did a google search for nick eaton ridge + cairn and found some interesting stuff. Should have occurred to me to do that earlier. To clarify, it wasn't that far off the trail. I just meant it was far away as cairns go (i.e. it wasn't a route marker).

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drm
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Re: Nick Eaton loop

Post by drm » February 6th, 2019, 7:41 am

I bet there was something other than salt in that salt shaker. Things were necessarily dropped where you find them.

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