Sunday, August 26, 2007

Snowy Creek, Rainy Pass trail

Last weekend I decided to try the newly constructed Rainy Pass trail on Nason Ridge. I started up from the Snowy Creek trailhead and about a mile in, turned right on the Rainy Pass trail. A new post, presumably for the trail sign, was at the junction. Unfortunately, the Rainy Pass trail was very steep and being mostly unused and probably still being constructed, was slippery and hard to hike. I don't think I went a half a mile before I gave up as dangerous and not much fun. The pine needles and moss made keeping my footing difficult on the steep slopes. I am surprised that the trail was so steep, I'm used to constructed trails, as opposed to scrambles created by fishermen or animals, to be less steep.

I continued along the Snowy Pass trail and ate lunch at the meadow about 3 miles in. Surprised that no one was camped there, it is a great place to backpack to with plenty of room to camp and fresh water. I continued toward Rock Mountain until about the treeline when I decided to turn around. Back at the meadow I spotted a mountain goat on the cliff and spent about 10 minutes watching it and having a snack. Many people have mentioned seeing the goats along Nason ridge trails, I had not previously seen any there in several trips to various points along the ridge, even Alpine Lookout which is well known as a goat hangout. I also heard some large animal, probably a deer, crash through the woods as I re-entered the forest. I saw only 2 other groups on the trail, surprising for an August weekend.

I had an odd experience driving to the trailhead. I was driving on Highway 2 a few miles east of Steven's Pass when I wanted to make a left turn to the Smithbrook access Forest Service road. Highway 2 in this area is a 4 lane, divided highway but is not limited access. The left turn is legal and marked with signs. As I approached it, I moved to the left lane, slowed down, and signaled well before the turnoff. A driver was coming up fast in the left lane and did not like me turning, he pulled to the side and started gesturing at me as I turned. I don't know why he felt that way, the right lane was completely clear and all he had to do was move right. I didn't stay to find out.

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