Sunday, August 9, 2009

Wellington to Windy Point (Iron Goat Trail) 8-8-09

Left the house this morning (solo) with about six different destinations in mind.

Ended up doing 1.5 of them.

First trail of the day was the Iron Goat Trail from Wellington to the Windy Point Tunnel. This section was about 8 miles, round trip, with very little elevation gain/loss.

Somewhere along the line a couple years ago, someone recommended the book The White Cascade by Gary Krist. It was a great book and was the reason I had to come visit Wellington.

To reach Wellington, as you head west on Hwy 2 from Stevens Pass, take the first right. Follow the road and then the sign to Wellington. It's about 3 miles from Hwy 2 and the road is 'decent' for any vehicle (except a skateboard).

For those that don't know, Wellington used to be a railroad town that supported trains crossing over the pass and is also the location of a notorious avalanche (the nations deadliest, according to the book) that wiped out numerous buildings as well as two trains. One of the trains was a passenger train, loaded with passengers, that had been stranded at Wellington for days due to weather.

This trail has an abundance of informative signs along the way, which are included in my photo album in case you want to try and read them online.

Despite the grim history and the ominous snowshed, the greenery was beautiful and it was really very interesting to 'hike' in this Land Of the Lost type of environment. Fascinating to watch Nature take back what former generations have left.

At the beginning of the trail you enter a very long snowshed.

Then you hike along side a concrete wall which used the be the uphill/back side of a snowshed that had a timber roof (12x12 timbers). The roof timbers were removed when this route was retired, but the wall remains.

The trail then just proceeds along the railroad grade with steep slopes above, and below. Some areas were forested, some were open avalanche paths.

After a couple miles you come to an unusual clearing. This unusual landscape is a result of a snowshed that was made entirely of timbers (no cement back wall). When the route was retired, it was decided that these timbers were rotting, so instead of removing them like on the other snowsheds, they left the timbers in place. So, here they sit. Slowly decomposing. Very Slowly.

Shortly thereafter you reach the Windy Point Tunnel. Pics of that are in my trip report from August 2007 where I used the Crossover Trail to reach Windy Point Tunnel. It's shorter but steeper, and you don't go through Wellington.

Once reaching Windy Point Tunnel, I turned around.
After returning to the parking lot, I noticed the trail continued in the other direction. That trail had a few additional signs and points of interest, but it dead ends just before a tunnel due to the potential for flash floods.

All in all, it was a fascinating trail. Few people were out here today, bugs were not a problem and the trail is easy to follow... and flat.

For those who are interested, after finishing this hike I finished the day with a short 4 mile jaunt southward on the PCT from Steven's Pass up to the ridge and back down, just to see what there is to see (which wasn't much).

Happy Trails!

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