7.5 Miles Campground Adventures Columbia Gorge River Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness Pogu Trail Ice Spikes Punch Bowl Falls Travel Tunnel Falls Winter Backpacking

Backpacking Eagle Creek in Winter

Camping in the snow at 7.5 miles camp site

It has been some time since I’ve had an opportunity to take a seat and write: days have been elbow deep in sick youngsters, hysterical Portland snow and plenty of work pushing my enterprise, Cnoc Outside, to the subsequent step. Due to all this, I additionally did not even go climbing, however I nonetheless have a lingering style from my final in a single day journey: Eagle Creek in winter snow. This journey was a mixture of two issues I had needed to do for some time: backpacking in Eagle Creek, and winter backpacking (solo). I need to go over these two factors earlier than slightly journey report:

Camping in the snow at 7.5 miles camp site

Tenting in the snow at 7.5 miles camp website

Eagle Creek Path

Eagle Creek might be probably the most well-known and well-liked hikes in Oregon (if not the entire PNW) and due to that, one of many busiest. Making an attempt to do an in a single day journey right here is never a deal with in case you are on the lookout for some peace and quiet. The path begins (or ends) on the Eagle Creek trailhead, simply off the I-84, and heads north till assembly the PCT close to Lake Wahtum. The most effective and most exact path description that I’ve discovered comes from the Forest Service:

This path begins at Eagle Creek Campground and ends at Wahtum Lake.  From Eagle Creek Overlook (120’) the path climbs regularly southeast following Eagle Creek.  After 2 miles the path reaches spectacular Punch Bowl Falls (500’), the place water spills 100 ft right into a blue-green pool set in a big grotto.  The path continues following Eagle Creek underneath heavy forest 1.6 miles to Excessive Bridge (560’), which traverses the gorge 150 ft above the creek. From Excessive Bridge the path heads southeast 1.Four miles, enters the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness, and continues zero.Four mile to the junction with Eagle Benson Path #434.  From the junction the path climbs zero.eight mile to Tunnel Falls (1,240’), the place the path passes via a tunnel behind a bathe of falling water.  Persevering with alongside Eagle Creek, the path heads due south 1.6 miles to the junction with Eagle Tanner Path #433 (1,560’).  The path leaves Eagle Creek at this junction and heads northeast.  The path climbs round a ridge above East Fork Eagle Creek after 2 miles and begins to show south.  zero.1 mile after turning south, the path reaches the junction with Indian Springs Path #435 (2,560’).  Flip left (east) to remain on #440 and proceed climbing 6 miles to the paths finish on the junction with the Pacific Crest Path #2000 close to Wahtum Lake (Three,800’).  Comply with #2000 alongside the south shore of Wahtum Lake to succeed in the parking space close to Wahtum Lake Campground.

Eagle Creek Path #440, Mt. Hood Nationwide Forest, USDA Forest Service

Eagle Creek trail in season - busy

Eagle Creek path in season – busy

If you wish to plan a visit alongside this path, Oregon Hikers have an excellent number of advisable trails that begin on the Eagle Creek trailhead – simply comply with the hyperlinks.

The rationale that it’s such a well-liked path is the mixture of quick access alongside the I-84 (45 minutes drive from Portland), a reasonably straight ahead path on the bottom and an abundance of waterfalls alongside the best way. The highlights are the cliff drops in the first couple of miles (above and under), Punch Bowl Falls, Excessive Bridge, Tunnel falls, Tornado falls and lots of different smaller (some un-named) waterfalls alongside the best way. This reputation brings concerning the full vary of hikers on the path, a combine of outside lovers, Instagrammers, vacationers, canine walkers, path runners and even soiled thru-hikers off the PCT for a break – it truly is assorted.

Sign on the trail with the coming highlights

Signal on the path with the approaching highlights

Winter backpacking

I had by no means actually, really been out backpacking in deep snow: I grew up in Israel (aka, no snow) and moved from there to London. The few winter journeys I had have been in northern England when there was by no means a lot snow and in my travels I all the time camped under snow degree, so I used to be eager to attempt it. This yr (winter 2016-17), noticed extra snow than the standard in Oregon, so it was the right time to attempt it. I needed to check my consolation degree and kit to see how adjustable I might be in snow and really chilly circumstances.

It was, for me, an opportunity to additionally check a brand new sleeping pad I’m creating for my firm and sleeping on snow was the right testing surroundings.

My sleeping system in the snow

My sleeping system in the snow

For some actually good reads about winter backpacking, I like Paul Magnanti’s publish about winter backpacking – it’s complete and clear. As an entire, there’s not a lot to do to maneuver from Three seasons to Four seasons preparedness: thicker clothes and sleeping bag for the static time, higher insulation from the bottom (sleeping pad and boots) and that’s about it, perhaps a couple of extra energy and a few extra leisure for the lengthy darkish nights.

Having tea in 7.5 miles camp all by myself

Having tea in 7.5 miles camp all on my own

Backpacking Eagle Creek in winter

My unique journey plan was to drive as much as Wahtum Lake trailhead simply above Hood River, hike 5-6 miles to Benson plateau, set camp and discover about with numerous time for photograph capturing and testing gear. I set off on my journey after dropping the youngsters at nursery, driving our normal VW Sportswagon – not a winter-ready automotive in any approach – and once I reached the final street to the trailhead, I discovered Four ft of snow on the street so I needed to change my plan. I rotated and headed to the Eagle Creek trailhead. I lastly managed to park, fill my allow ($5 to park your automotive) and begin strolling at 11:30 – later than deliberate.

A reminding sign of where you are

A reminding signal of the place you’re

The path began muddy and icy at occasions however principally clear and straightforward to stroll. I had my Kathoola Nanospikes on they usually labored completely over my Inov8s on the combined path. The stroll to Punch Bowl Falls was very simple: clear and broad path with many individuals nonetheless occupying it, a number of icy patches the place water was dripping down from the cliffs above the path, however apart from that a simple and cozy forest stroll. From Punch Bowl (I didn’t go right down to the bottom) the snow acquired a bit deeper however was nonetheless patchy; you possibly can see the place the buildup from the wind and the shortage of daylight would make it deeper afterward if it snowed. I continued at a much less brisk tempo, having fun with the brand new path and the superb falls alongside the best way, assembly fewer and fewer hikers (which additionally means those I did encounter have been friendlier). A bit additional on, simply previous Metlako Falls, the bridge over Tish Creek have been broken as a result of heavy rains in spring 2016, which meant that previous that bridge I used to be in all probability going to be on my own.

Tish Creek bridge - ruined until further notice

Tish Creek bridge – ruined till additional discover

Crossing Tish bridge rigorously because it was a mixture of moist, icy and rocky, I managed to get one foot moist (and instantly realized I forgot my Goretex liners). Simply on the opposite aspect, I met a gaggle of aged hikers getting back from Tunnel falls, all of whom had traction units. After that group I had the path just about to myself, wading by means of 2-Three ft of snow that was half pressed and half powder, seeing semi-frozen falls and snow-heavy timber. At elements the place the path naturally is slender and probably slippery, the snow had collected, making for a really slender space to stroll on the within of the path (close to the cliffs) the place another person had already created steps. Utilizing the railings which might be bolted to the rock and my spikes, I managed to cross a few these sections and determined to improve my traction system to the Pogu Path Ice Spikes. After the change I felt extra assured on the path, passing the excessive bridge and stepping into deeper snow. Simply earlier than getting into the Hatfield Wilderness I met a younger Russian man who appeared a bit misplaced and unprepared for the world, it was about 14:30 so I despatched him again the 5.5 miles to the trailhead to ensure he didn’t get misplaced in the darkish.

The trail narrows down dramatically with the snow piled on

The path narrows down dramatically with the snow piled on

From there it was once more a combined path of mud and snow as much as Tunnel falls, straightforward strolling in the dropping temperatures of the afternoon – the path was empty. Tunnel falls are superb and I needed to stroll rigorously because of the chunks of ice across the tunnel’s entrance and exit. After turning the curve I ended for a bit to admire the falls and take a number of footage and observed that I had began dropping feeling in my ft, not a good signal. Proper after the falls there’s one other small stream and from right here it was virgin snow all for me, the footprints having disappeared and I needed to break path. The forest received darker and I stored on pushing it, questioning if I might make it to Benson. I walked additional till about 16:00, reaching the junction with path #433 and realizing I wouldn’t get to the highest in such deep snow (it was about Four-6 ft by then), so I rotated to look for the 7.5 mile camp website.

One of the many falls along the way

One of many many falls alongside the best way

The location is a comparatively small one which, in summer time, will get full very early; however that night time it was utterly empty. I arrange my Trailstar, obtained my gear out and made Three or Four cups of inexperienced tea to heat up and wash down the biscuits. With no cell reception, I opted to only develop into my heat tights and socks and bounce into my sleeping bag. I shortly discovered that my sleeping bag wouldn’t be as heat as I wanted it to be (improve wanted) and that my check mat wants extra insulation. Fortunately I additionally had a Thermarest Z-lite Sol with me. It was a quiet night time of some star gazing, studying, dinner and extra studying. I had a quiet and peaceable night time in the snow, and regardless of the necessity for a hotter bag, slept soundly (new mother and father all the time do…).

Boiling water for another tea as the evening rolled in

Boiling water for an additional tea because the night rolled in

The morning was chilly however sunny so I shortly packed up, had a fast espresso and power bar and was on my means again. The solar was shining via and the path was a lot icier than the day earlier than, with the world round Tornado falls being just about a sheet of ice. I encountered the primary hikers round Punch Bowl Falls and had a chat with a few locals a bit additional on, about an enormous chunk of land that acquired swept away in the final storm: the lookout to Metlako falls is gone.

The lookout to Metlako falls, lying at the bottom of the creek

The lookout to Metlako falls, mendacity on the backside of the creek

After this chat I used to be primarily targeted on attending to the automotive and heading residence: I used to be hungry and in want of extra espresso. A bit earlier than returning to the trailhead, the path is slender with sheer cliffs under and above the path. This can be a lovely a part of the path the place you will need to stroll underneath the dripping water, making it magical and really, very chilly when icy. That morning the entire part was one lengthy ice sheet and it prevented a large number of hikers and walkers reaching the falls. I made my approach simply to discover a human visitors jam from the ice to the trailhead. With the Pogu spikes on, I simply simply overtook the sluggish (and unprepared) hikers to seek out my automotive sitting patiently and absolutely coated in a thick layer of frost. After a little bit of scraping with the bottom plate of my compass (multi-use!), I used to be off to house.

All and all I had an ideal expertise, having fun with Eagle Creek primarily to myself and attending to do some winter backpacking in a comparatively protected space. I used a mixture of printed maps from Caltopo (you possibly can obtain the PDF right here) and saving the pdfs on my telephone – this mix labored nicely.


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Right here’s just a little bonus, a video from the journey:


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