Sunday, October 2, 2011

Exploring Cooper River 10-01-2011

Instead of the traditional western Washington hike that I've become accustomed to, this hike was a bit different: it was 'east of the Cascade crest'... my first hike on the east side of the Cascade Mountains.

The original plan was pretty generic since there were a lot of variables coming into play: sketchy weather, sketchy knees and lots of driving to an area that I had never been to before.

If you read the original itinerary posting, you'll know that there were three or more trails that were on the potential to-do list for the day. We didn't really do any of them.

Rob informed me that he would be interested in taking me eastward for an 'easy on the knees' type of hike day. Since we always have fun stuff to talk about (or trouble to get into) there was no way that I'd miss this opportunity.

Rob and I have been close friends since Junior High. The only reason I'm bringing this up is because I just came across a picture of us taken during a camping trip from 1983 at Lake Cushman. Nope, not going to say who is who.

Now, back to the hiking related content.

Instead, we did a little cruising around the back roads of Roslyn and Roland to eventually find ourselves at Cooper Lake, beneath Polallie Ridge. The weather had been dry - until we parked and stepped out of the truck to investigate a particular boat launch site. Then the rain started to fall.

What did we do?

You guessed it! Instead of getting back in the truck and looking for beer, we grabbed our hats, packs & cameras and set off to follow a faint bootpath (or probably game trail) along the border of Cooper Lake.

There is an actual trail here... but we weren't on it (until the way back).

We crossed over and under blowdowns for almost a mile, looking for the Cooper River that feeds into Cooper Lake. Finally we lost the path completely and decided to consult Mr. GPS. Garmin told us the real trail was just 50 yards away so off we went and Viola! there was the nice, wide open trail that leads directly from our parking lot at Cooper Lake to the Pete Lake trail head.

Since the rain had let up we decided to follow the Pete Lake trail for a ways, just to see what there might be to see.

It turns out that the sight to see was the Cooper River we had been in search of. Beautifully clear and beautifully cascade blue at the same time.

After numerous pictures of the river, the trail and the river part ways just enough so you can not longer see the river, although a few small streams are crossed here and there.

Eventually we reached a trail intersection with the Tired Creek trail (which also heads to the top of Polallie Ridge and back down to the road we came in on).

Realizing that we weren't likely to continue the remaining 2.75 miles to see Pete Lake we deemed this to be a fine turnaround spot.

Autumn colors are still a ways off, but there are some bright burning colors showing up at this time. Much more to come!

The hike out was uneventful, but it was a lot faster since we followed the actual trail from the Pete Lake Trail head back to the boat launch. You can see the slight deviation that our lakeside route took in comparison to the return trip.

The route was very flat (especially compared to most of my hikes).

Also, this portion of the Pete Lake trail is open to hikers, stock and also Mountain Bikes. Bikes would be a good option on this trail since it is so flat and has very few trail hazzards. I believe that bikes are not allowed inside the Alpine Lakes Wilderness - so you probably would have to stash the bike when you cross that boundary (although I'm not sure off hand how far the boundary is from Pete Lake).

After the hike we made a couple detours to watch the spawning salmon in the Cle Elum River. Here is a short video for your viewing pleasure.

Our hike was only about 4.5 miles in total with minimal elevation gain/change.

Next scheduled hike is more than a month away (Nov 12th), but I'm hoping for a few bonus hike opportunities to capture more of the fall colors and maybe bag a few more peaks before the snow starts to pile up.

Happy Trails (and stay tuned)!

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