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2016 - The year of the fallen tree

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2016 - The year of the fallen tree

Postby North 350 Blades » Wed Jun 15, 2016 11:37 am

Hikers

Let it be known that Washington experienced epic levels of winter blow down due to multiple wind storms this winter. The early melt off is allowing the volunteer crews an early start (2-4 weeks early) but there is simply a massive task ahead, one that will take much of the summer to complete, if it can be completed at all this year.

For context, on Monday June 13 a 7 person crew (2 chainsaw sawyers and 5 swampers) set out north on the PCT from Highway 20 / Rainy Pass. They cut all day, clearing 41 trees from the trail. And only covered 1/2 mile. The Steward for the section stated that beyond where they quit for the day one could hop from one tree to the next (probably only a slight exaggeration). On another 1.5 mile stretch that was scouted over the weekend there is about 25-30 trees down, including 2 piles with ~5 trees in each. In a "normal" year, this same 1.5 miles might have 2 to 5 trees down. A couple of weeks ago, in two days of clearing (1 chainsaw crew one day, 3 chainsaw and 3 crosscut crews the next) we cleared over 130 trees from 7 miles of trail.

As you're hiking the trail, note the fresh cut trees you pass, which will give you an idea of the magnitude of the problem this year.

The bottom line - even if you're a late season thru hiker, don't be surprised to encounter pockets of blow down on the last 350 miles of the trail, especially in Wilderness areas like up on Glacier Peak.

We're also hearing from our friends at the Mt Hood Chapter of the PCTA that their section was hammered by blow down as well. To quote: "We have validated counts of 700 logs through the Warm Springs reservation. South of Indian Heaven [Wilderness], where last year I cleared 6, this year there are over 100 [logs down]."

Happy Trails.

North 350 Blades

PS - if you want to help cut out these trees, join the local volunteer trail crew. Typically no experience is necessary to be a swamper / helper on the crew.
North 350 Blades
 
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Re: 2016 - The year of the fallen tree

Postby TheProfessor » Sat Jun 25, 2016 9:49 am

Let's be a little bit less dramatic, and give some information from the ground.

I just sectioned Breitenbush Lake to Wapinitia Pass from Tues 6/21- Fri 6/24.

Yes, there are downed trees.
No, there is no reason to panic.

Oregon hiking early in the season is a task of stepping over trees.
If you are expecting the August needle-bed, superhighway of 10 days through
Oregon, it is not going to happen in late June.

To be specific...Breitenbush (just north of Jefferson) to Ollalie Lake resort
to Lemiti Meadows (about 15 miles) is mostly step-over at below crotch height.

Lemiti Meadows to Pinhead Saddle is a MESS. 1/4 mile plus sections of
off (parallel to) trail hiking, but if you keep a sharp eye out, ALL have paths
beaten around the blow-downs, whether a short stack or a lengthy pile-up.

This is all on Warm Springs land, and the most NW-ern corner of their land.
With access roads closed due to blow-downs of their own, these folks won't
be getting to this section for a while.

To be succinct, the 15 miles from Jude/Russ Lake to Warm Springs River will
be a trial. Plan for it, and don't always try to go through each stack to "stay-true-to-the trail".
Other than that section, Jefferson to Wapinitia is step-over and clear, especially from Timothy Lake north.

What folks SOBO'g after flipping north to Cascade Locks need to be aware of is SOUTH of Ollalie Lake resort.
Snow starts at Breitenbush, and goes to Santiam Pass with few breaks. You will need microspikes at a minimum.
But that is beyond a blow-down discussion. Happy trails!
TheProfessor
 
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