William O'Douglas Wilderness 9/1-9/3

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romann
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William O'Douglas Wilderness 9/1-9/3

Post by romann » September 13th, 2018, 11:40 pm

Wow, I didn't write a TR here in months! This summer passed like a week, it's been very busy time.

Every Labor Day I try to visit a new place that would be too far for just a 1-night trip. William O'Douglas Wilderness north of Goat Rocks was on my list last year, but had to change plans after a large fire started just to the NE. This year was uncertain again because of fire at White Pass. A couple days before the weekend the winds changed - so it was a go.

I hiked out-n-back from Dog Lake campground, on north side of SR12. There's only 3-4 parking spaces for trail users in the campground; I parked on the side of highway along with several other cars. The trail starts wide and easy, it's mostly a long forest walk at first, with few openings. At about 1.5 miles there's a ford of N Fork Clear Creek, shallow but ice-cold crossing. On the way back I explored a side trail that goes over the logs upstream - so there's an option if water runs high.
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Just short of 5 miles I got to my first night's camp on a peninsula on NE side of Dumbbell Lake. The night was dark and I sat at the lake trying to spot falling stars - saw one, but it was really bright as it streaked across the sky. Yellow-ish Mars was so bright it reflected in the waves of the lake. Wish I brought a treepod for night photography.
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Smoke from nearby fire picked up in late morning, but wind from the northwest was keeping it away, as forecasted.
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In the burn area north of the lake, fall colors were already showing. Now the area's trails are going to be very pretty, with the amount of huckleberries up there
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Pipe Lake by the PCT - nice and deep, but rather crowded this day. It was strange to see so many backpackers sitting by the lake and not hiking, on such a pleasant day. I only met 1 person on the trail on Sunday, a PCT through-hiker moving at about 5 mph (I may be exaggerating, but only slightly).
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Jess Lake, on the other hand, was really quiet. There's a campsite on east end of the lake, but it was kind of dark/shady so I moved on looking for more open place to call home for the night.
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Unlike Indian Heaven, many lakes there (and even smaller ponds) are deep and more rocky. OTOH, there's fewer open meadows (but maybe I didn't hike far enough), and landscape seems more "chaotic" - a mix of really old and really young forest, brushy areas, and if you're going cross-country it's constant up-and-down, with many steep 15-foot hills that make travel more tiring than it would seem based on miles alone. It's a larger area than IHW & takes more time/miles to get to interesting stuff. That said, I liked it there so much I abandoned my plan of going over Tumac Mountain (just another Mt. Rainier vew ;) ) and went cross-country soon after Jess Lake, exploring all the little lakes on the way. Saw more elk than people the rest of this trip.

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I did briefly return to PCT and visited Snow Lake in the evening
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Like other places in the backcountry, there were deer/elk trails everywhere, and lots of bones, and fresh bear poop. This place really feels wild and remote
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..and there were some shrooms
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..and of course, lost air balloons (ok just one) ;)
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Was surprised to see a horse rider, across the lake from where I was camping second night, far from the trail (I think she was just as surprised to see me there)
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Visited Long John Lake on the way back. Like many in the area, it is a deep, swimmable lake. It was breezy and in the 50's so I wasn't tempted to get in the water (and also wanted to cover more ground before the dark), but this cool weather finally brought relief from the bugs - I saw almost none on this trip.
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justpeachy
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Re: William O'Douglas Wilderness 9/1-9/3

Post by justpeachy » September 18th, 2018, 8:38 am

Cool! Thanks for sharing! I've seen that wilderness on the map many times and always wondered what it's like.
Cheryl

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