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Otis - Pacific Crest Trail Journal - 2011

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Picks up Stones
City: Mandeville
State: LA
Country: USA
Begins: Jul 7, 2011
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Thu, Aug 25th, 2011
Start: E Frk Milk Ck
End: 2556.5
Daily Distance: 18.5
Trip Distance: 515.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 656
Journal Visits: 12,396
Guestbook Views: 699
Guestbook Entrys: 8

Journal Plan

Pacific Crest Trail Map

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Suiattle River

Suiattle River crossing

I want to be in Stehekin by 3:00pm shuttle tomorrow, so get going early and am heading down Vista Creek , only stoping to chat with a geological crew at Dolly Vista camp that is working in the area. Am also anxious to get down to Suiattle River, and see the crossing situation there for myself . It is the last big question mark on the sect K route, once past, it should be clear sailing to High Bridge. I pass a section hiker (Jake) who is heading down to High Bridge also. Just before the Vista Ck crossing, I see a newly cut trail, a few yards in the distance. Curiously it is not going to connect with the one I am on. Oh, that must be the trail that goes to the newly installed bridge over Suiattle R? (I had heard of this bridge on the hiker grapevine, it was in place but not the ramps on either side). I figure it must be close now to final hook up day.

Based on my intel, I had decided to stay the old course and cross Vista Ck (I had been told by sobo section hikers that this low log at Vista was awash after the rain of three days prior) and head directly for the Suiattle. Found a lot of blow down and a trail that is showing its non-maintained status of 8 years. It is easy to follow however, as the herd has been coming this way every season. At the Suiattle river , the banks have all been re-worked by floods, and on the nobo approach, is tricky, as the track appears to end on flat ground. it is necessary to bust through debris, logs and brush to get onto the open sandy river flood plain and there find a marking cairn, as you break between the last bushes. (Just as on the official PCT, if the track appears to end --you go back to the beaten path and find where it had to go----all those footfalls had to go somewhere!). Walking over to the river, I find the first crossing log, a bare one, sitting at an angle across the river, also sloping at an up angle........ looks interesting. Walking in the up stream direction, 200 yards or so, I go looking for the 2nd log (thankfully informed of this by a sobo section hiker). This one is lower, flat and still with bark. According to hiker lore, both these logs have been here a couple of years ( maybe even since 2006??). A coincidence, that they are both in the vicinity of the old pre-2003 bridge. Anyway the upstream one is hands down the easiest, safest one to cross, and now Jake who I saw earlier, has come on to the river bed and we cross it, like on a cake walk. Was easy to follow user tread down to the spot where the PCT takes off into the trees north heading for Suiattle Pass. The whole river crossing thing, a bit anticlimactic now. I am guessing that in seasons to come, as long as the logs remain in place, most of the thrus, and long section hikers that are not squeamish, will just pretend the "official PCT" is this old route and blow across the river here, and forgo the extra miles (about 5.5 I have heard) of walking to cross on the new bridge, wanting to catch the earliest possible shuttle to the Stehekin Bakery and sticky buns! More patient hikers will perhaps take the time to stroll down the Suiattle R valley and run up onto Miners Ridge to Image Lake on the way to Suiattle Pass.

The whole concept of one "official" PCT route is rather silly anyway. Over the years, this trail has bounced around the crest all over the map, in all its sections. I looked on a 1950 USGS topo I have , which shows the PCT not going over Vista Ridge at all, but continuing down Milk Creek from Fire Creek Pass and crossing the Suiattle R well below Milk Cr junction. Then running back up the Suiattle R valley to gain Miners Ridge on the lookout trail and continuing past Image Lake to Suiattle Pass. Same trail, just a name change. HYOH!

The trail on north up Miners Ck is in super shape, likely used the last few years by people coming in to work on the bridges? At Suiattle Pass, I go up on the ridge a half mile to explore and look out for views. Go down the north side till I am in the first large amphitheater and find a sign for a camp stuck in the snow, but follow the arrow and find a nice dry flat area amongst landslide rocks for camp.

Entry 35 of 36
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2011 - PCT Sections In CA, OR, WA

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