Monday, March 12, 2007

Dingford Creek, Horseshoe Lake 3.12.09

With the elevated avy conditions I wanted something I was familiar with and was in the cover of trees. I was unsure about the conditions of the Middle Fork Road past the Taylor turn-off. I half expected to be stymied by snow or other road issues. I had a back up plan if I wasn't able to reach the Dingford Creek Trailhead. As it turns out my fears were unfounded and the road was in passable shape. For those of you wondering the gate at Dingford is currently open. I expected the trail to be under snow so I would have to just wing the approach. I was really suprised to find not much snow until where the trail crosses the outflow of Pumpkinseed Lake. There has been quite abit of foot traffic so I was happy that I wouldn't have to break trail. Knowing that I was going to have to cross all 5 branches of Goat Creek I resisted the urge to snowshoe up. I frequently postholed making the going much slower than I had anticipated. Soon I reached the first crossing of Goat Creek which didn't provide any special challenges. Each subsequent crossing grew more difficult. I had to spend much extra time to find areas that were the drop to the creek wasn't too much. I perfected a new skill (Beagle tossing). Because the Beagle couldn't make it up the other side I had to shotput him up the other side. Initially I felt bad for him, but it seemed to me by his reaction that he rather enjoyed his short flights. The summer route to Horseshoe Lake leaves the trail between the 4th and 5th branches and crosses the fifth branch after climbing a short ways. I chose to cross the fifth branch and then start my ascent. The snow had a very heavy sloppy 8 inch top layer with a mostly solid layer underneath. I just picked my way to avoid the very little brush present. The grade is only moderate but with the heavy snow it was taking a toll on me. I managed the lake in 3:45 from the car. This was almost double the time for a summer ascent. I had hoped to continue on to Sorcery Mt. (Just to the East Pt 5273). I decided just to have a quick lunch and then make my return. The way back to the Dingford Creek Trail went very quickly and soon I was back for another round of Beagle tossing. I kept my snowshoes on all the way to Pumpkinseed Creek which kept me from postholing. The balance went easily and soon I was back to the car. For those who need an MFR update the road is great shape until about 4 miles past the Middle Fork bridge. There were some crews working but It didn't impede my progress. The rest of the way to Dingford Creek is the usual MFR bouncefest. The Dingford Parking area is also very muddy which was somewhat aggravating.

Approx 8 miles 2500ft+ of climb 6:30 car to car

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