Pacific Crest Trail – Goat Rocks, Mt Adams

Goat Rocks – Mt Adams

51 miles

Elevation: 10,000

goat rocks

[We combined/layered all 3 of our GPS stats]

Daniel, Brian, me

Photo Credit – Daniel took most of the pics (he has a sweet camera!)

More pictures Here!

3 near death situations.. sort of –

  • Saw a tree fall and it definitely made a sound!
  • Saw a giant 200+ pound boulder roll across the trail
  • Traversing eroded rock and glaciers
  • Backpacking 51 miles with 10,000 ft gain 🙂

We started Thursday evening getting to the trailhead off highway 12 (just past Packwood) at 8pm. I was way excited for this trip because it was going to be the largest section of the Pacific Crest Trail I was going to hike to date and we were going to an area I have never explored before.

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[the start…]

Daniel, our “trailmaster” had explored this area and had done large sections of this trip at one time or another – but never in its entirety. We were all set with mapping devices – Daniel with his Garmin GPS handheld, Brian with his spanking new Garmin Tri Watch 310tx, and myself with the Garmin 405. Also, we had the old fashion compass and map if all else had failed.

The temperature was chilly and there was a light mist. After much debate I had decided to outfit my feet with trail running shoes versus boots. The weather forecast had been promising with sun. This decision would prove to be the wrong one….

Thursday night we hiked for about 2.5 hours to get about 5miles out of the way. These first 5 miles were gradually climbing through dense forests – so it ended up being the best 5 miles to hike in the dark because we weren’t missing out on any views.

Unfortunately for me, the trail was pretty muddy. Brian and Daniel both decided to go with boots… a wise decision. I ended up hiking between Daniel and Brian so that I would have the best light and be alerted by muddy spots.

A little about me and my feet…

My feet are completely flat – no arch at all. They are long (size 13), wide and are incredibly prone to being destroyed after just a few miles. Blisters are inevitable and a way of life… until I met and fell in love with Montrail Streaks.

Last summer my friend George and I planned to hike the Timberline Loop. I had been going back and forth between boots and trail shoes and had decided to try out my new Danner Boots. Being the procrastinator that I am I waited a few days before the hike to break in my boots and test run them. Inevitably I got the blisters that I probably deserved. After my short test run hike up in Forest Park I immediately went to Fit Right Northwest where my buddy Andrew works. I pleaded with him to hook me up with a shoe that was “blister-free” just 2 days before my hike. After the videotaped gait analyst of my running style and ugly awkward feet he fitted me with the Montrail Streaks. I flip-flopped it for the next two days to eliminate the hot spots I had developed. Without any breaking in I hit the Timberline Trail hard (all terrain- snow, dirt, sand, rock – you name it) and came out a new man – blister free!

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[The Montrails in all their glory]

… This is where the story is sad. Montrail Streaks are discontinued. I cannot locate the Streaks anywhere! So I had to put my trust into the North Face trail shoe.

In the first 5 miles in the dark I had already gotten hot spots on my heels. I applied some Body Glide the next day in hopes of stopping the blister build up there… it didn’t work 😦

We had hiked to for a few hours and found a solid camping spot right off the trail that was relatively flat and sheltered from the wind. Throughout the night the wind and rain came down continuously. And then it stopped. My sleep came in the form of 30 to 45 minute naps throughout the night. I immediately noticed the constant sound of the rain hitting our rain fly as it stopped around 4am when the temperature dropped below freezing cooling things down.

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[Our frozen camp in the morning]

It was difficult to get out of my mummy sack and be exposed to the chilly morning air. With the sun starting to rise we could see that our camp site was pretty sweet. We were perched on this platform with great views of the sunrise and mountainous valley.

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[Sunrise from camping spot]

It was great to get 5 miles out of the way Thursday night. It warmed us up for what was to come, but at the same time low enough mileage we weren’t sore.

After a hardy breakfast we bundled up and hit the trail. Immediately I was impressed with how beautiful the area was.

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[the snow covered peaks we would soon hike through..]

For most of the day we were blessed with amazing views of the Mountains and Valleys as we hiked. I was very impressed with the amount of Pacific Crest Hikers that were trekking onto Canada this late. We passed by 15 to 20 PacCresters’ along the trail.

When you hike in an area as remote as this and see very few people it is always nice to stop for a minute to shoot the breeze with other hikers along the trail. Many of the PacCresters’ we spoke with were pushing 20 plus miles a day to beat the nasty snow of the Northern Cascades. As we were speaking with one hiker we heard some crackling of a couple branches falling off a tree. Just as we look to see the branches drop the entire tree went timber falling not 50 feet from us. It was a cool experience to see mother nature being so powerful. However, the rest of the trip we were all weary of the trees as we heard them sway from the powerful winds.

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[We took side trail to Hidden Springs… and found the Springs – awesome view from above]

 

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[Good eats on the trail..]

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[Let the climbing begin…]

 

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[Almost to the top…]

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[Mid-Hike snooze]

After doing some major climbing it felt amazing to peel off the pack and get off the feet for a few minutes. Having the sun beaming down us in this high alpine meadow and a slight breeze– I could have stayed here for weeks!

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[The climbing resumes]

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[Looking over the shoulder – man o man have we gone a ways!]

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[Climbing through the snow covered peaks]

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Some pretty tricky traversing here. We ended up taking the “stock” trail versus the “hiker’s trail” this trail would prove to be much more technical and dangerous due to the snow fields and loose rock. Through this section the wind was whipping really good causing some loose rock to fall down the hillside. Just as we were coming up over a ravine we saw a 200+ pound boulder come off the top and roll right across the trail diminishing all other rocks in its path. To continue along the trail was a little daunting. I was on high alert.

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We hit the last 100 feet or so of traversing. It was probably the sketchiest part. The traverse was much more vertical along some extremely loose rock. My rock climbing background provided me with the mental toughness, body balance, and technical moves needed to get through this small section.

 

[Goat Rocks, Mt Rainer, Tranversing the snowfields]

 

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[Mt Rainer with a “linticular” cloud looming over the summit – Goat Rocks to the Left]

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[Goat Rocks, Goat Lake, Mt Rainer… but no goats :(]

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[Our final destination glooming in the far distance (Mt Adams)… Coolest looking camp spot here]

This was one of the coolest camping spots along the trail. Unfortunately for us it was taken and we had to hike for another 7 miles before shutting things down for the night. Apparently this area is accessible by a fairly easy 8 mile hike. Hearing this got me excited about taking our wives here. I began to day dream about spending a few days here bouldering on the rock and exploring more of the Goat Rocks area.

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We took a few minutes to watch the sunset over the beautiful Cascade Mountains. We could see Mt Adams, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer, Goat Rocks and Old Snowy – it was a spectacular site. As quickly as the light of the sun disappeared the Moon’s light appeared. We ended up hiking until 11pm in attempt of getting to the half way point. The traversing/climbing and rock hopping really killed our pace so we had to push through the late night. For most of the  night we hiked under the moon light. I have not done much hiking under these conditions, but absolutely loved it.

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[Lake we camped near]

Let me tell ya – it is tough to find a lake at night, especially when you dog tired! We ended up being just a few 100 yards from it so it worked just fine when washing dishes and refilling water. Throughout the night we awoke to 2 owls working together as a team – one was hooting while the other was scanting. After a minute or so if hooting and scanting we heard a loud thump assuming they captured their prey.

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Feet problems persist…

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Early on Daniel hiked a good portion barefooted on the wet forest floor to allow his soggy boots to dry out a bit. My usual MO of blisters was the issue so I hiked about 11 miles in the flip flops. After flip-flopping it for a few hours I developed other hot spots so I switched it up with some barefoot action as well. At this point the trail was soft and mostly made up of sand.

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I’ve heard many stories of people getting caught on Indian land and things not working out so well for them. As I understand it – the Pacific Crest Trail has right away. We fortunately did not test to see – we steered clear of their property!

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[Mt Adams… Getting closer]

The entire trip we knew that our exit point was Mt Adams. We first saw Mt Adams towards the end of Day 2 as we were hiking through Goat Rocks area. From Goat Rocks on we pretty much starred at Mt Adams the entire way out. We kept looking up and thinking – wow that is a long ways away!

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[The END! ]

Daniel’s family had come up to the area during the day hiking around and went swimming in the lakes. Daniel’s Dad was so gracious to wait for us and hike out the last 4 miles. It was nice to have him along for the last bit as he told some great stories and boosted morale. At the truck his family had left behind cookies, sandwich fixings, fruit, and hydration. It was definitely refreshing to eat something other than power bars or candy. We all limped into the truck and ate like Kings. Not but 30 minutes into the drive I was out and then suddenly awoke in Portland. I definitely appreciate Daniel’s Dad for hooking it up big with the food and driving us out of there!

Over all I truly enjoyed the hike. I would however recommend taking 3-4 days to truly enjoy the area. On many parts we weren’t able to explore as much because of time constraints. I plan on adventuring back to the Goat Rocks – absolutely beautiful country!

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Bus on October 12, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    AMAZING pictures and what great weather you guys had. Great job with documentation and nice job syncing the GPS signals you all picked up.

    Reply

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