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Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

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Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby Acumen » Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:36 pm

So I am planning a trip to the area ~May 20th and am having some trouble finding conditions and what the best trails for this time of year are. I would like to find a really powerful trail that gets you away from the day hikers to some epic places that most people don't get to see. I figure we will spend 4-5 days in the Seattle area and we are trying to figure out how to best use them so see some cool stuff. Right now I am looking at the Copper Ridge Trail in the Cascades plus a day or two in Olympic if you have recommendations there. I am not sure what to expect trail and weather wise. I want to avoid crampons and heavy gear, but some micro-spike usage would be fine. Saving Rainier for another fly in trip. Any insight or trail recommendations would be great. Really anything near Seattle. How hard is it to get permit this time of year?
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Re: Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby Snidely Whiplash » Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:55 pm

The main difficulty you're going to run into this time of year is closed roads. I don't know where you're coming from, but Washington is not like Colorado. There are access roads here that are under snow well into July, depending on where you want to go. I don't know what kind of equipment you're taking with you, but you may need skis or snowshoes. This is certainly a strong possibility for anyplace like the North Cascades in May.

So as for Copper Ridge, it is very questionable as to whether the Hannegan Pass road will be open on May 20th. My guess is that it won't be open all the way to the end. That should achieve one of your goals of solitude, but your entire trip will be under snow. If you really want to do this trail, you should contact the Mt. Baker Ranger Station. They should be able to give you up-to-date road closures/snow conditions. But it's great scenery up there. If intent on that area, bring snowshoes or skis.

The really prime area in late May in the Cascades tends to be the Teanaway area of the Wenatchee Mountains. Memorial Day seems to be the average opening of the end of the North Fork Teanaway River Road, so it may still be under snow. That might be enough of a deterrent to most day hikers to get you on a trail to Ingalls Pass that is normally very busy. Or going up to Bean Creek Basin from the Beverly Creek Road is also a great destination. Or head up the Stafford Creek Road and scramble Navaho, Three Brothers, etc. Of course how many hikers you will encounter will all depend on what day of the week you go. If you go on a weekend, expect day hikers. If you go mid-week, you should expect to have a lot of solitude.
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Re: Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby Acumen » Thu May 02, 2013 6:54 pm

Great! Thank you for the information.

Yeah I am from NY so we don't really close roads here, even in the Adirondacks. I was not even thinking about that. We are trying to be light and fast, cover a lot of ground, so we want to leave the snowshoes and crampons at home. Sounds like the Copper trail is out.

I've been looking at the trails you recommend and they sound great. I am trying to get them mapped out. Will they all be on the Alpine Lake map (825) here?:

http://www.natgeomaps.com/ti_washington

Do you know how good the Trails Illustrated map is out there? I have a dozen of them from all over and have always been very happy with the series. Any other map recommendations? Should I pick up any of the other Trails Illustrated maps besides Alpine Lakes and Olympic Park (as in, will we be able to hike more northern areas without snowshoes)?

From what I see about the Alpine Lakes, we will be there before permits are needed. Are there any areas we would need permits for?
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Re: Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby Snidely Whiplash » Fri May 03, 2013 5:21 am

Acumen wrote:Great! Thank you for the information.

Yeah I am from NY so we don't really close roads here, even in the Adirondacks. I was not even thinking about that. We are trying to be light and fast, cover a lot of ground, so we want to leave the snowshoes and crampons at home. Sounds like the Copper trail is out.

I've been looking at the trails you recommend and they sound great. I am trying to get them mapped out. Will they all be on the Alpine Lake map (825) here?:

http://www.natgeomaps.com/ti_washington

Do you know how good the Trails Illustrated map is out there? I have a dozen of them from all over and have always been very happy with the series. Any other map recommendations? Should I pick up any of the other Trails Illustrated maps besides Alpine Lakes and Olympic Park (as in, will we be able to hike more northern areas without snowshoes)?

From what I see about the Alpine Lakes, we will be there before permits are needed. Are there any areas we would need permits for?


Yes, the Teanaway is in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and it should be on that map. There are arguably more spectacular areas in the Washington Cascades (like the North Cascades), but you would need to come back in summer for what you want to do. The scale on the Trails Illustrated is pretty small, so you might want more detail with some mapping software, or Green Trails Maps. Be aware that even this area will still be under snow well into May and into June as well, so following trails usually means following boot prints even here, but the east slope does have the advantage of being drier and warmer, and melts out earlier than the west slopes. Your first choice, the Hannegan Pass trail, would be under five feet of snow well into early July of an average snow year. This year is also an average snow year, and there will be some good melting this week, but who knows about in two weeks. If I were you I'd focus on Ingalls Pass, Longs Pass, Navaho Pass, Beverly Creek Basin, Bean Creak Basin, and Esmeralda Basin areas. You'll still be on snow, but it should be pretty well consolidated and you can walk on it without snowshoes or skis. Check out this page on the Teanaway. It's got a great list of peaks and links for research.

Permits for the Alpine Lakes Wilderness are mostly on a self-serve basis at the trailhead, and are a non-issue. That is, unless you want to go to the Enchantments (which will be under lots and lots of snow) and is an overnight trip anyway.
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Re: Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby Alasdair » Sat May 04, 2013 4:16 pm

You could do a hike from Blewitt pass to Ingals lake and back, but even that will likely be under snow in places. Also have a look at Goat Rocks WIlderness. You could certainly hike the ho river trail in Olympic NP. Dont go light on the rain gear.
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Re: Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby Acumen » Mon May 13, 2013 6:56 pm

Awesome guys. Thank you.

I have been looking at/mapping all the trail recommendations and they all look great. I will get out there in about a week and have a day or two to go over them with my hiking partner to make final decisions.

We have top of the line event/goretex hardshells (I would not trade my Rab Latok Alpine Jacket for anything). What about footwear? Normally for shoulder season around here I would just plan on having wet feet from rain, flooded trails, and crossing streams/creeks. I use some thicker SmartWool socks and my Merrell Moabs, and make sure to open them up all the way incase they freeze solid overnight. Throw some gaiters over them to keep snow out and make them a bit warmer. Does that sound about right? I also normally use neoprene gloves.
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Re: Looking for Good Trail / Conditions End of May

Postby LuminousAphid » Tue May 14, 2013 2:20 am

You're going to be on mostly snow if you intend to get out anywhere that's not crowded; the snow is being surprisingly tenacious this year on most of the trails I have been on, and it's still down around the 3000' mark right now in a lot of places, or lower. Teannaway might have less, but I would expect still some, so bring goretex boots, full-length gaiters, and lots of extra socks. Wool works the best for me because it doesn't make my feet all clammy when they get a little wet like a lot of synthetics, REI has great merino wool liners and light hiking socks that I have been using and they're also cheap.

Also, my main tip for snow travel around here would be to go up in the morning, and only down in the afternoon. By this time of year, the snow sometimes gets very very mushy in the afternoon heat, which makes it amazingly hard to travel uphill. Mornings will often yield a much harder and compacted surface that might have even re-frozen overnight, and is much better for traveling uphill. Going down in the slush is certainly fun, but I wouldn't suggest trying to go up in the afternoon. Also it gets hot when the snow reflects all the sun on you. Morning is your friend.

Regarding the weather, you really won't know until the day before or maybe two before. Forecasting is at best a guesstimate at 3 days out, and more than that is not worth really paying attention to since it changes so frequently and drastically. For example, today the forecast might be for rain and cooler temps Friday, but by Wednesday it might predict a sunny warm Friday.

Plot twist; the sun ceased to exist on Thursday night

That's what the weather is like around here. So don't expect to know before you are actually here, so have backup plans. The upside is that the Teannaway is famous for good weather when it's bad on the west side of the mountains, so you can always drive over even if it's crappy in Seattle and take your chances. It probably won't be raining as hard
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