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Goat Rocks 2012



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The last week of August 2012 was spent in the Goat Rocks Wilderness in the southern Washington State Cascade Mountains, located between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.  The Pacific Crest Trail passes through this area, noted for the rugged peaks (the Goat Rocks). Elevation ranges from 3000 to 8200 feet.  Mountain goats do frequent the higher elevations, as well as marmots.

Accompanied by grandson Cassidy and trusty pack llamas Asher and Rowdy, we joined up at the Snowgrass trailhead with Joyce and her four pack llamas from the Portland area, and Alexa and her son Julius from the Seattle area. Despite not being in communication with one another all day, we all arrived at the trailhead at the same time.  The trip there was relatively uneventful, except for the several mile long dusty gravel road connecting Highway 12 to the trailhead, which was one continuous speed bump. It was so washboarded I lost a couple of small parts off the van (and various other vehicle parts were observed on the road), and one of the rear door hinge pins on Joyce's trailer, which is nearly a half inch in diameter, sheared off.  While our llamas riding in the van were comfortable, the llamas transported by trailer on this tortuous road were pretty beat up and covered in a thick layer of dust upon arrival and were sneezing/snorting clouds of dust.

The hike to base camp was about 4.5 miles and 1900 feet climbing elevation, ending alongside the bypass trail from the Snowgrass trail to the PCT.  Snowgrass Meadows is closed to stock camping, which is just as well as it is very popular and crowded, even on weekdays.  A very nice secluded campsite was found next to a small grassy meadow.

The llamas enjoyed the meadow grass and rested up for the next day's day hike to Goat Lake.  With Joyce and Alexa both excellent cooks (Alexa a professional chef and caterer) there was no shortage of great food throughout the stay.

The day hike to Goat Lake was incredibly scenic. The green valley was filled with wildflowers. Marmots scurried about eliciting their warning whistle.

 Goat Lake itself was still frozen over with areas of snow. See a higher resolution 360 degree panorama at Photosynth.  One mountain goat stood sentry duty on the ridgeline above the lake, watching us and the llamas. Presumably more were on the other side of the ridge.

Mt Adams was prominently in view to the South.

On day three we set out in the opposite direction to hike about three miles north on the Pacific Crest Trail to the high elevation (another 1600' climb) as it traverses the ridge near Old Snowy (abt 7900') overlooking Packwood Glacier.  The panorama below was the view next to Old Snowy (which is pictured on the right side of the frame looking south) spanning east and north to the left, after emerging from the thick fog/clouds.  See a higher resolution Photosynth view.

Again the scenery was fantastic with waterfalls and wildflowers in bloom along the way. More marmots were observed. Mt. Rainier was mostly obscured by clouds.

While enjoying our picnic lunch just off the PCT we met a woman passing by in her mid to upper 50's solo backpacking from California to Canada after being laid off from her job of many years and invited her to join us for some "real food".  We also ran into Sandy Lee of Prospect, Oregon, the "llama lady" who decades ago with her llama Dancing Cloud hiked sections of the PCT from California through Washington several times.  Dancing Cloud has since passed on and Sandy was day hiking with her dog this time.  She was really tickled to see all the pack llamas.

A couple with a pair of hiking goats was also encountered each day during the two day trips.

The hike out the next day went smoothly.  We were in no hurry to leave.  See many more photos linked on the left.

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Last modified: 15 May 2012