Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rock Climbers at Index Town Wall 05-12-2012

Index Town Wall

Beautiful weather, a few free hours and my desire to see something new brought me to the infamous Index Town Wall a couple weekends ago.

The Index Town Wall is a popular place for locals to exercise their adrenaline and unique skills by rock climbing up a massive granite wall. Really massive. Really, super big massive. I kid you not.

For those of us who don't like to climb, or those of us who have spouses/families that don't allow them to climb (although frequently these groups of people are one and the same), it is rumored that there is a trail that can be hiked (not climbed) to the top of the wall(s).

Really, that's about all I knew about the trail when I stepped out the front door of the house.

My objective for the day was more about just exploring the Index Town Wall area than it was about hiking to the top of the wall. Thus, not really knowing all the details just wasn't of too much concern.

The town of Index is located just a short ways off Hwy 2, about 30 minutes or so east of Monroe (depending on traffic).

Here's a map for you.

My route from left to right basically covers the width of the climbing wall space. It's a huge area.

From a distance, it appears there are multiple tiers to the 'wall'. Unfortunately, I do not know if it is possible to access those other, higher wall sections via foot.

Upon my arrival (took the last parking spot in the lot, no parking permits/passes required) it seemed logical to follow a main trail out of the parking lot. This route went up and over the active railroad tracks to a little trailhead kiosk and porta-potty. A trail continues from the kiosk into the woods and directly to the based of the wall.

Can you spot the five climbers?

A trail branches off to the left. My feet followed it.

This route contours around the base of the wall and then almost immediately starts ascending a moss covered talus/boulder slope and through a gap between the main wall and a secondary 'stub' wall. Along the way there was a neat little stream which was diverting itself into a short cave while also glowing with sunlight.

At the gap there were two groups of climbers, roped up and 'learning the ropes'.

Beyond them the trail went by a neat cut/cavern in the rocks (see the video for really bad footage of this odd cavern that looks like a wide vein that has been weathered away) before heading more downhill than uphill. Since it seemed this direction wasn't going to go any higher without the use of ropes, I concluded this was not the trail I was looking for. Regardless, there is no doubt that the exploration time was well worth the effort.

Returning to the main trail allowed me to watch a few other groups of climbers slowly make progress up and down various routes.

Did I mention the weather was fantastic and the views were sublime? It was and they were.

The trail became rockier and looser as it proceeded to the right and my visitation time was running out.

After making my way back to the train tracks, it was noted that a few people were wandering to the right along the tracks (to the right if you are facing the wall). Assuming they knew more than I did, I followed them. Less than a quarter mile away was a dirt road heading directly to the wall. In the base of the wall was a huge door... and more climbers, a picnic table and another porta-potty.

A trail continued further right, beyond the end of the vertical wall and into the woods. Then it began to ascend, and switchback.

This seemed to be the trail I was searching for. Unfortnately, there wasn't enough time for me to follow it very far. After only a couple hundred feet of elevation gain it was time to head back to the car (uneventful).

Can't wait to come back here to venture further up that trail! The views are sure to be impressive ones.

Unrelated to the hiking topics this blog usually focuses on, I was able to spend the rest of the afternoon making my way to Seattle to watch a Seattle Sounders game vs. Salt Lake City at CenturyLink field. The Sounders lost, but everything else about the entire day was a TOTAL WIN!

Here is a short video of the odd cavern/vein and some soccer footage.

Happy Hiking!


PS: A whole lot more trip reports are coming soon... this last Saturday involved a visit (or more) to FOUR trails! Stay Tuned!

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