Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Icicle Creek, Frosty-Whitepine 8.31.10

After being drowned on last week's trip and not summitting anything I felt like I had to have a big day to make up for last week's lack of success. I was drawing near to the close of my vacation and the weather didn't look like it would cooperate. Since Monday evening was nice I thought maybe I could out run the weather by hiking thru the night. I usually try to do one long trip per year and I felt like by leaving during the night 30 miles and 10,000ft of climb could be done. The plan was to do a loop from the washout on the Icicle Road going over Frosty Peak, Snowgrass, Ladies Peak and Cape Horn and coming out Chatter Creek. My first thought was to do it going up Chatter Creek first but leaving during the night I felt like walking the Icicle Road and Icicle Trail would be better done with the headlamp.

After cleaning up after having a dinner party and putting the kids to bed I hastily packed and was off. After a few stops I finally underway just after 10pm. The moon and stars were all shining brightly giving me hope that a reprieve from another wet fest was possible. I parked at the washout at just before 1am and was off shortly thereafter. From the onset I had some boot issues which was very strange since I haven't much issue with these boots. The boots were so wet from last week the insides still hadn't quite dried fully. I had thought that this many miles would put my feet under pressure so I had packed my sandals just in case. The moon was shining so brightly that I walked large portions with my headlamp off to conserve batteries. When I passed Chatter Creek I gave some thought about changing plans and doing the route backwards. In retrospect I really wish I had since I believe this would afforded me more success. I pushed the pace and was able to reach the Icicle Creek Trailhead in just more than 90 minutes. I quickly reached the crossing of French Creek and there were some good spots to bed down in the area. I wasn't really tired but I thought taking a power nap might be a good idea. I was able to manage 2 hours before hitting the trail. Years ago the bridge over the Icicle that Frosty/Whitepine trail washed out forcing one to continue on nearly 2 miles further before crossing the Icicle. This 2 miles seemed to go on forever but I finally did reach the bridge and stopped to eat on a campsite just on the North side. As I ate it started to rain and with it went my motivation. Instead of continuing up I instead set up camp and slept for 4 hours. It continued to rain steadily for the remainder of the trip. After sleeping for 4 hours I repacked and headed out. About 1/2 mile before the junction with the French Ridge Trail I was able to find the old Frosty/Whitepine spur leading to the old crossing. If one wanted to find this trail look for an area that someone has buried with way to many branches making it look unnatural. The trail is easily to follow through many blowdowns and I reached a campsite and saw some of the stringers from the old bridge. The Creek does look like it can be forded and there was a log 100 yards downstream that could be used to cross as well. Be warned the trail was not visible on the other side and it was massively overgrown. Many years ago I took the old trail down and it was easy to follow but I did loose it near the bottom and spent an hour trying to find my way is some VERY unpleasant swampy areas. I think it may be best to take one's medicine and walk the extra mileage to hit the rerouted trail..

I reached the ICR to have the rain double in intensity. I switched to sandals which for the most part worked except to the fine grit that permeated my socks slicing my feet to shreds. I was forced to change socks and loosen my sandals to continue. I just put my head down turned my music up and was extremely thankful that I packed my flask. Just after Chatter Creek I saw my first group and after reaching the car a couple of girls came right behind me with full packs. My experiment in night hiking went exceedingly well and it will be something I will try again in the future. With the road closure the ICT seemed even more lonely. I did see many signs of horses up until French Ridge but beyond that I saw no fresh signs of travel. For those of you that pick mushrooms I would recommend this trail because I saw plenty of mushroom with many different types.

Approx 19 miles 1500 ft of climb 8 hours walking

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