Trail Conditions [UPDATED 7/22/14]

Trail Conditions
Welcome to my PCT Trail Conditions page. I’m updating this about every week as I go from north to south for the benefit of fellow PCT hikers. It is written from a southbounder’s perspective. Newest material is at the top, oldest at the bottom.

—v—| SECTION I |—v—

Snow free!
I’m seeing quite a few other hikers, particularly section hikers, now.
No water from 2375 to 2360.
Water is more plentiful from 2334 south to White Pass than any maps or guidebooks show due to seasonal streams.
Awful mosquitoes, the worst I’ve encountered outside of Hawaii from 2320 to 2303 (White Pass).
All in all fairly plentiful water, though this has been the driest section so far since Canada. I got away with carrying half a liter of water most of the time.

—v—| SECTION J |—v—

7/16/14 Goldmeyer Hot Springs Alternate
Snow free until Lake Ivanhoe. A mile of snow and difficult route finding near Ditch Miller Gap. Plenty of mosquitoes on the descent to Goldmeyer though not many at the spring. Best hot spring I’ve been to out of dozens, highly recommended. Northbounders should have the place all to themselves as the road is closed through September for paving.

7/12/14 Trap Lake to Waptus Lake
Minor slide debris. Less than 10% snow travel. Halfmile’s WA2452 stream crossing is roaring but with a committing jump I was able to cross it and keep my feet dry. It could be easily crossed with wet feet. Half a dozen down trees to this point, plus several immediately after. Minimal snow travel and easy route finding. Saw very large cat prints and heard something crying as it was being killed. Crossed paths with 10 people in all.

7/11/14 Stevens Pass to Trap Lake
Gentle climb over twelve miles, about 20% on snow, plenty of mud and water on the trail. Occasional postholing. Two minor down trees. Snow is heaviest near Josephine Lake. Slide debris near Lake Susan Jane. GPS helpful at snowy turns. HEAVY MOSQUITOES BRING HEAD NET, GLOVES LONG SLEEVES AND PANTS or plan on hiding in a tent. Met two sperate Snoqualmie-bound couples that turned back due to snow and down trees.

—v—| SECTION K |—v—

7/8/14 Stevens Pass
Everything within about 8 miles of the pass is snow free. Mosquitoes abound. Lake Janus thawed, trout are biting. Peach and Pear Lakes still snowed in. Trail easier to follow here.

7/7/14 Grizzly Peak area
Mostly snow, some sections very steep and difficult to cross in slick afternoon slush. Would recommend crossing in the morning with traction devices. That applies to most of this section. GPS required for navigation. Experienced my first fall-through since leaving Canada: fell six feet into a cavern made by a stream running under the snow that could not be seen from the surface. Not fun. I was not injured and none of my gear got wet, but that was just luck.

7/6 Red Pass to Pear Lake
Almost entirely under snow, steep and rocky. GPS and ice ax very helpful.

7/5/14 Kennedy Ridge to Red Pass
Snow free trail below 4,000′.
The climb up is long and all on snow. Tricky stream crossings where steep snow banks give way to wide streams. Staying on the trail is not really necessary once you’re above treeline if you can understand where the trail is taking you but otherwise will require good map reading skills or just GPS to follow.

The camp, toilet and bridge at Kennedy Hot Spring has been decimated. I was told today that it was wiped out by an avalanche. Additionally, the hot spring is small, mucky, and just lukewarm (maybe 90°F) so in essence it is unsoakable. Don’t go down here for a soak. The White Chuck Road is the better of the two routes if you do go, although the switchbacks at the bottom have fallen into the river. Look for the new route marked with pink flagging tape. The Kennedy Ridge Trail, north of here, also leads down to the Spring, but it’s rife with down trees.

7/4/14 Mica Lake/Kennedy Ridge Area. Fully on snow. Trail difficult to follow through sparse trees, GPS will greatly speed vegetation here.

7/3/14 Suiattle River to Dolly Vista Camp. Dry and well maintained trail until the last few miles before Dolly Vista. Stream crossings high, expect wet feet multiple times. Up to three miles between water sources

7/2/14 Sitting Bull to Suiattle River
Almost all snow. Keep your ice ax in hand. Traction devices helpful in the morning, gaiters in the afternoon when your steps will occasionally punch through the thinning snow or slush may fly up into your boots if you like to slide down the steeps like me.

7/2/14 Suiattle River
Vista Creek bridge is out, log crossing upstream. Watch out for rusty cable running through the bushes at waist height on the east side of Vista Creek if you cross the log to take the Old PCT shortcut.
The “Old PCT” near the Suiattle River is in decent condition with quite a few down trees. Will be passable for a couple more years at least. Log over Suiattle River is there but no trail for half a mile on either side.

7/1/14 High Bridge to Sitting Bull Basin
Snow starts at 4,000 before reaching the Basin. Basin snow is thinning and provides a fall-through hazard. GPS required when crossing broad open areas like these in order to find the trail on the other side.

6/31/14 Stehekin River and Agnes Creek
These river valleys are deep, low, drier and filled with mosquitoes. Up to three miles between water sources. Good trail, no snow, more people. Eat Koochen at the Stehekin Bakery, you will not regret it, and Friday is all you can eat bbq at The Ranch.

6/26/14 Rainy Pass to Castle Pass
Trail is 90% buried in snow, mostly too soft for crampons. Western aspects above treeline are usually the snow free part, good dry camping on the trail itself. Saw no one on this section until Rainy Pass.

6/14/14 East Bank TH to Castle Pass
North Cascades National Park
Boundary Trail: mostly under snow still, lots of down trees and slide debris. The switchbacks climbing out of Little Fish are largely covered with down trees and grown back in so don’t expect to follow them all the way to the ridge.
Three Fools Trail: a good way to practice following a faint trail. It took me 2 hours to walk the 3 miles from Deerlick to Little Fish on a sunny afternoon. The first mile (up to the wilderness boundary) is a normal trail, then it became severely overgrown in numerous places, with the last quarter mile being barely identifiable. Where it is not obscured by deadfall and overgrowth the tread is flat and makes for easy walking. No severe washouts. With the trees removed this would make an amazing trail into some amazing wilderness. The Little Fish shelter is gone but there is a sign to tell you when you’re there. Best to do this in the afternoon when as much dew as possible has dried from the trees, but expect to get wet anyway. Its only about 600′ of net elevation gain but some sections are steep and it feels like more.

Desolation Trail: 4 small blowdowns, water available at 3 creek crossings, patchy snow for the last quarter mile, lookout closed.

East Bank: Clear between East Bank TH and Desolation. 3 big blowdowns between the Desolation Trail junction and Deerlick Cabin.