Stampede Pass to Blowout Mountain

Steve and I did the section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) between Stampede Pass and Blowout Mountain, heading Southbound, over October 11-12th, 2008. This picked up where we had left off on our previous trip that ended at Stampede Pass.

With it being a late time of year to be doing this hike, we started early. Kirk dropped us off in the early hour. It was 29* out. The trail starts off into woods, then parallels FS roads. It was also opening weekend for hunting, we moved fast to get away from the roads.

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Often the case, this section of the PCT (from Chinook Pass to Snoqualmie Pass) has some awful trail markings. This lovely one? Well you couldn’t miss it. No complaints I guess, at least it was marked.

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As we climbed higher, heading South, behind us the views got better of Mt. Daniel and Stuart Mountain. The Huckleberries in this area were well over a month behind schedule and had frozen – but still tasted great. Slushy fruit bites indeed…….

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Loved this “sign”, it was a fallen tree that had been carved with a chainsaw.

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Well…..about there I quit taking photos. To be blunt this is not a section one does for scenic value. You do it so you can simply say ‘I have done this section’. It is of course the well-known section of flittering back and forth from old forest to raw clear cuts, to clear cuts 20-30 years growing back, to forest so stacked with regrowth that a spark would set the whole forest off. It was also so cold in most of the area, little of it ever had the sunlight above us hitting it. It was cold, lonely and not a lot to look at.

We hiked a shy 18 miles to Blowout Mountain for the day, then hooked off onto trail 1318, then onto 1388 and headed down. Our goal was a spring on the backside, which we found. We made camp in a copse of trees on the edge of a meadow. Farther down/up 1388 was another water source – a spring and a meadowy pond. The camp there was even nicer. The moon came out that night and it was so bright one could lay there and read with it. It was also very cold. I was happy I had a very good sleeping bag with me. We walked about 18½ miles and gained maybe 4800 ft gain. It was a long day indeed.

Steve in camp in the morning after we broke camp. Steve had been very cold that night, once we made camp. He wasn’t feeling so hot in the morning either.

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The meadow/bench below our camp. The ridge to the right was covered in snow. We encountered snow periodically above 4500 ft or so. More icey than snow – it was cold enough that the snow does not melt.

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Trail 1388 taking off from camp – it heads to the low gap.

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At the gap is a multi intersection. Only 1388 and 943 are marked. Hiker beware here – if one wants to get back to the PCT they do much better to turn around and go back to the Blowout Mountain junction. The trail 943B mentioned on Green Trails map Lester 239 is NOT accurate. It is out of date and the trail has changed.

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We decided to take 943B, Little Bear Trail. Let me be clear: we didn’t know at first we were on this trail. We missed the “go back” trails to the PCT as they were brushed over. Our theory was this was done to keep motorcycles off the PCT. We figured out soon enough this couldn’t be the trail, but stuck with it as it was going mostly in the direction we needed.

The trail goes down then up to another gap. It then shoots down and down to the valley floor where one encounters this old cabin (fully stocked inside…..well, if it had a roof it would be ok……)

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I did not care for that cabin at all. As we were looking around I nearly stepped on a large rabbit. That was headless. Most likely Steve and I interrupted an owl having breakfast.

The trail shoots back up and then traverses the hill-side. It eventually reaches an old logging road that then promptly connects to FS 784 coming up from Eastern Washington. If one wanted they could take a right onto 784 and reconnect to the PCT not far up at Green Pass (At the junction of 784 and FS 7038).

This is where we ended our hike. Steve was feeling even worse. While we had planned to do 3 days and head for Gov’t Meadows, our detour had us on a major FS road coming up from the East (Little Naches River). I flagged down a truck coming up, and a hunter offered us a ride. He drove us all the way around, on FS roads (many only open during hunting season) and took us out to FS 70, down to Hwy 410 and dropped us off on the highway. We had been able to call Kirk, and he came and got us. It was in the end the right choice. Steve went home and came down with the flu that night. Yikes!

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