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Conrad Basin, Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA
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rjlittlefield



Joined: 06 May 2005
Posts: 727
Location: Richland, WA, USA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 12, 2006 11:44 pm    Post subject: Conrad Basin, Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA Reply with quote

This has got to be my favorite spot of the last couple years.

Conrad Basin is in the Goat Rocks Wilderness, in the southern Cascade Mountains of Washington State. (See Google map.) It takes me about 12 hours to get there, 2-1/2 of them by car and the rest by foot. By wilderness standards, the hike up is pretty much a "walk in the park", but it's a longer steeper walk than most people like to take, so I've usually got the place pretty much to myself.



Most of the pictures posted here are pulled from a couple of trips last summer, after almost all the snow had melted. That takes a while at 6000 ft elevation in Washington.

When I was up there a couple of weeks ago (June 29-30), the higher elevations looked like this:

Most of this snow will melt off a few weeks after this picture was taken. The white stuff on the highest peak here is actually ice that lasts all summer -- a small glacier that'll probably be gone from global warming in a few more years.

The vegetation gets pretty interesting near treeline. These conifers have seen some rough times.


There's a reason, of course, why they call the mountains the "Cascades". Especially in spring, there are a lot of waterfalls. The ridge behind my favorite campsite has a half-dozen when the snow is melting. What's pictured here is Conrad Creek itself, the main one in the drainage. The falls in the background is a couple of hundred vertical feet, none of it free fall, just all very steep. There's another one that starts a couple hundred yards downstream from here, and I think another one below that before the creek calms down and joins the South Fork Tieton River, which oddly enough is smaller than Conrad Creek every time I've crossed the junction.


Many more pictures and such are posted at my main web site, http://www.janrik.net.

Look for the section labeled "South Fork Tieton / Conrad Basin Hikes".

--Rik
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S. Alden
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A beautiful area and I would take the "walk in the part" route myself. No sense in stressing my body I always say Laughing
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Ken Ramos
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 3:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well gear up folks a small pack of 45lbs. ain't that heavy. Wink This is a grand looking place Rik, one I could spend some time in. I can't help but think that some of that has been sculpted by glacial flows at one time. You know back when I was in the service, places like this were in my reach but those days are pretty much gone, unless I happen to win the lottory. Absolutely wonderful. Very Happy
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S. Alden
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
Well gear up folks a small pack of 45lbs. ain't that heavy. Wink


glad you feel that way Ken. When I go on a trip, I will be sure to have you along to carry all my gear... Laughing
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Ken Ramos
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do ya think Question I'm a Sherpa! Laughing
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rjlittlefield



Joined: 06 May 2005
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Location: Richland, WA, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
This is a grand looking place Rik, one I could spend some time in. I can't help but think that some of that has been sculpted by glacial flows at one time.

Oh, yes! The whole area was covered in deep ice during the last Ice Age, and new moraine was being piled up as late as the early 1900's. Conrad Creek still runs milky because of fine silt being ground off by what little moving ice there is left.

This place is also only about 50 miles northeast of Mt.St.Helens, and it was smack in the path of the main ash cloud when St.Helens blew its top back in 1980. As a result, there are quite a few drifts of volcanic ash, which looks so much like gray beach sand that my hiking buddy and I were totally confused until somebody pointed out the connection. When I first went to this place, I was expecting the big flat area at the top of the basin to be covered with boot-sized rocks. Nope -- it's covered in beach sand! A nicer place to camp, you couldn't ask for. Very Happy

There's a horse trail into this area too, and I'd guess that half or more of the visitors get there that way. One trip I encountered a couple of fellows with four horses that I thought were way overpacked, until I learned that they were planning to stay four weeks.

Me, I just go in for a day or two, and you guessed real good about that 45 lbs pack weight. I'm blessed with a strong back (though weak mind, my family frequently suggests Confused ), and I'm not what you'd call a minimalist about backpacking. But the trips are mainly for the hiking, not the photography, so I err in favor of food and clothes over lenses. That's how come you see so many of my insects from here shot with an 18-125mm general purpose lens.

Yeah, it is a grand looking place. I feel another trip coming on...

--Rik
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 13 Jul 2004
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Location: Issaquah, WA USA

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's see... 9.5 hours on foot.
Hmmm..... guess I won't bump into you up there!

I generally try to live by the the philosophy I learned from this Edward Weston quote:

"Anything more than 500 yds from the car just isn't photogenic" Shocked




looking NW, 2x vertical exaggeration
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rjlittlefield



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 2:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep, that's the spot. Nice maps -- which software?

--Rik
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MikeBinOKlahoma



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good Lord!

Beautiful country, but I'm afraid I'm not going to make it back in there either....Back when I was literally half the age I am now, I walked 21 miles in one day carrying a 72 pound pack....But that was because the Army made me do it! Smile And it was on nice, basically level trails. Now I'm hard-pressed to go more than a couple of miles carrying nothing but camera gear and water. Sad
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rjlittlefield



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"But that was because the Army made me do it!"

See, that's the funny thing -- people will happily do on their own initiative stuff that would seem completely out of line if somebody else asked or demanded it.

I went back this last weekend. It was beautiful. Approaching one of the lakes, I saw two other tents. "Well that's a bit disappointing," I thought. "I kind of hoped to be the first body up here." Oh well, no problem, I'll just pitch tent over here underneath these other trees." The night was warm, and the stars were awesome.

Next morning, two guys come over from the other campsite. We exchange pleasantries, and then one of them sheepishly asks, "Um, do you happen to know if there's an easier way down?" It seems that they had bushwhacked up a slope that my hiking buddy and I had decided was just about appropriate for a mature elk in good condition, assuming there wasn't any snow, which in fact there was a noticeable amount of. Six guys, four at 25-ish plus one at 54 and one at 12. The 12-year-old was in tennis shoes. I walked the latter two out, and left my maps with the others. I'm sure they had a fine weekend. But dang, I wish they had done a bit more planning first -- some risks you don't need to take!

--Rik
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Ken Ramos
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik said:
Quote:
But dang, I wish they had done a bit more planning first -- some risks you don't need to take!


Quote:
Me, I just go in for a day or two, and you guessed real good about that 45 lbs pack weight. I'm blessed with a strong back (though weak mind, my family frequently suggests ), and I'm not what you'd call a minimalist about backpacking. But the trips are mainly for the hiking, not the photography, so I err in favor of food and clothes over lenses. That's how come you see so many of my insects from here shot with an 18-125mm general purpose lens.


Carrying excesive gear is not to my liking also, however one park ranger here in NC once told me, "anytime you enter into a wilderness area, go expecting spend the night...maybe two!" Sounded like good advice to me. It seems almost every year someone here in NC goes into these mountains and either gets lost or does not make it out alive. Usually due to the lack of common sense and poor planning. Some areas require you to login with the rangers station with your hiking/camping permit (required in some areas, usually about a $5 permit) giving a general location of where you will be and what time they can expect you to return (logout). It is also a good thing to let either friends or family know of your intentions to venture into a wilderness area also and give them information on where you will be and what time to expect your return. So if something does happen, someone else knows where you are at. Wink
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rjlittlefield



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PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2006 10:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
It seems almost every year someone here in NC goes into these mountains and either gets lost or does not make it out alive.

Yep. It's worse out here in Washington. According to an article in Wilderness and Environmental Medicine (ref):

Quote:
Wilderness Environ Med. 2005 Winter;16(4):192-7.
Recreational injuries in Washington state national parks.

Stephens BD, Diekema DS, Klein EJ.

University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA, USA.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to identify the number and types of recreational injuries sustained by visitors to Mount Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park in Washington State and to compare the nature of injuries sustained by children compared with adults. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed case incident reports obtained by rangers in Mount Rainer National Park and Olympic National Park between 1997 and 2001. Data collected included victim age, gender, date of injury, activity preinjury, type of injury, and mechanism of injury. RESULTS: There were 535 cases of recreational wilderness injuries (including 19 total deaths), yielding a rate of 22.4 injuries per million visits. The mean age of injury victims was 34 years. Males were more likely to sustain injury than were females (59% vs 41%). Most injuries occurred during summer months between noon and 6:00 PM, and 90% occurred during daylight hours. The most common preinjury activities included hiking (55%), winter sports (15%), and mountaineering (12%), and the most common types of injuries included sprains, strains and soft tissue injuries (28%), fractures or dislocations (26%), and lacerations (15%). A total of 121 (23%) of the injuries occurred in children (<18 years of age). There were 19 deaths in the 2 national parks (18 men, 1 woman); all victims were adults. Hiking (58%) and mountaineering (26%) were the most common activities at the time of death. Mechanism of death included falls (37%), medical (eg, myocardial infarction) (21%), drowning (5%), and suicide (5%). CONCLUSIONS: The most common type of injury was soft tissue injury, and injuries occurred most commonly while hiking, during daylight hours, and in the summer. Preinjury activities and types of injuries were different in children compared with adults. Knowledge of how and when injuries occur in national parks can assist in determining what resources are needed to help provide a safer environment for park visitors. This study may also aid prevention strategies in the national parks, guide training of rangers, aid in the preparation of first aid kits, and further the education of people who participate in wilderness activities.

I spent two weeks as a mountaineering student with Outward Bound a few years ago back in '02. An excellent adventure, particularly after the boo-boos healed and the exhaustion faded. I came away with a smidgeon of experience and a great appreciation for the backcountry -- both its beauty and its lack of forgiveness.

Your advice is excellent. I would add, "Remember to keep your stuff within crawling distance at all times. If you really need it, that's probably how you're going to have to get it." Anxious

That said, I am reminded daily that the world is full of ways to take a lot higher risks for a lot lower rewards. I'll spend my risk on the wilderness, and be grateful that I have the choice to do that. Very Happy Very Happy

--Rik

PS. I'm the fellow with glasses, fourth from the right in this photo. No danger of confusion with Brad Pitt, unfortunately. Sad
The fellow next to me in the blue cap and the young lady in the red jacket were instructors; the others were fellow students.
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Ken Ramos
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some interesting stats there Rik. I have never looked up those for the area around here but I would imagine they would be pretty close to those you've referenced. We also have an Outward Bound here too. I am not sure of what all the program offers but here I think it is mainly for kids with social issues, troublesome behavior and attitudes. From what little I have heard about NC Outward Bound, it seems to be an excellent program and it is based at the edge of the Linville Gorge area, right in the middle of nowhere. So if anyone at anytime decides that they have had enough and considers leaving...they had really better think it over...hard! Laughing

A great photo album Rik. I really need to do photo documentation of more of my hikes into the mountains around here. One day, time "the devourer of all things," will probably limit my adventrues to the front porch and it would be nice to have the photographs to look back on. Wink
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MikeBinOKlahoma



Joined: 20 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
"But that was because the Army made me do it!"

See, that's the funny thing -- people will happily do on their own initiative stuff that would seem completely out of line if somebody else asked or demanded it.


In one of my favorite nature photography moments, I realized that I spent almost two hours sitting still in direct sunlight in the upper '80s (not intolerable, but rather uncomfortable) waiting for a lizard to move! To get the shot linkedbelow, I had to wait for the Sun to move through the sky so that he shifted position to face broadside to me. Once he got there, something amusing happened that you can read about on the link if you want to.

http://www.photomacrography1.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1081&highlight=hat

Point being that I did this of my own free will and didn't even think it out of the ordinary till I had time to sit and ponder what I was doing. For most people, I'd tell 'em to go to blazes if they asked me to sit in the bright, hot Sun for two hours!
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rjlittlefield



Joined: 06 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ken Ramos wrote:
We also have an Outward Bound here too. I am not sure of what all the program offers but here I think it is mainly for kids with social issues, troublesome behavior and attitudes.

That's a common impression, but it's not accurate from what I've seen. Outward Bound's literature specifically says that's not what they do, and strongly recommends that such students should go elsewhere. My group was mostly ages 16-18, a broad spectrum of ordinary kids ranging from street-wise to honor student. Between us there were many reasons for coming, but the ones you mention were not among them. Only one student did not really want to be there, and that case was just a misguided gift from the parents, who thought they were sending their kid to something like summer camp at the lake.

Ken Ramos wrote:
...it is based at the edge of the Linville Gorge area, right in the middle of nowhere. So if anyone at anytime decides that they have had enough and considers leaving...they had really better think it over...hard!

Ah, now that's dead on -- and it's an important part of the program. Outward Bound is not in business to run a lightweight summer camp. Midway through, one of my instructors joked that with a competitor's program, a successful course is one where at the end people know each other's names, where with Outward Bound, it's when everybody has cried at some point. But I don't think he was really joking, and if he wasn't, I know for sure that I did my part to make the course successful.

I think the program is impossible to describe effectively. Many times I try, it comes out sounding like an advertisement to be somewhere else -- anywhere else! But it was time well spent. 4 years later (at age 54), I still think about it daily, and periodically I check the course lists looking for another one that strikes my fancy.

Ken Ramos wrote:
A great photo album Rik. I really need to do photo documentation of more of my hikes into the mountains around here. One day, time "the devourer of all things," will probably limit my adventrues to the front porch and it would be nice to have the photographs to look back on. Wink

Thanks, Ken! There were many cameras, but few pictures. After the course, I begged for other pictures besides mine to make a team CD, but in the end I did not receive any. Sad I made the CD's anyway, and sent them to everone else. Photos are good; memories fade way too fast without them, and they're almost impossible to share!

--Rik
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