A recent MOW thread (https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=48577
) rekindled my old interest to connect the Upper Shannon Falls and Petgil Lake trails - a route whose ends I have previously explored (https://www.clubtread.com/sforum/topi...TOPIC_ID=34099
A route/bushwack using, in part, old deactivated forestry roads, it seems to be done only once or so a year and usually starting at USF (thereby allowing you to start off on the deactivated roads and follow those the bulk of the way to Petgill).
Wanting to be different, RamblingBull and I started at started at Murrin/Browning Lake, took the standard trail to Petgill Lake, bushwacked our way clockwise to past the lake outlet (the circuit trail around the Lake is flooded or otherwise non-existent in parts. Leaving the Lake at about the NE corner, we bushwacked north and found a good log to use to cross a swollen Gonzales Creek, and made our way NW-W to flank to the left (west) around the left of the two prominent bumps. We then made our way down the other side, intersecting with an old deactivated spur, which we followed until it intersected the deactivated main forestry road up there (i.e. the usual USF-Petgill route), which brought us to the standard USF trail, which we followed down to the Chief parking lot.
AKA "I can't see my feet and I haven't been able to for the last 10 minutes...
Google Earth birdseye:
Google Earth 3d:
It was raining, rather heavily for most of it. This was actually a good wet weather hike, as even with good weather there would be no views. It was also going to be a bushwack - necessitating a good jacket, pants, gloves, etc. - which was also good since we were already in rain gear.
Google Earth 3d - standard route up to Petgill Lake:
Not much to say about the trail up to Petgill Lake. It's in excellent shape, easy to follow, etc. It's a nice wet weather hike itself:
One thing to note, there are a few new (to me) yellow flags along the trial where it follows that old logging road. The flags have various writing on them that looked 'forestry-esque', and I think one of them (close to where the Petgill trail leaves the road) mentioned a possible 'bypass' - so I wonder if there will soon be some sort of development/logging up there and the trail will be re-routed a bit?
The Petgill trail has a few viewpoints along the way. Here, RamblingBull points out the highlights:
We made it to the Lake in about 1 hour 45 and made our way along the Lake trail to the outlet (note, trail is flooded, so we had to bushwack). From there we climbed up on a minor ridge (minor bushwacking) and up/down a few scrambly bits until we were at about the NE corner of the Lake.
Petgil Lake from outlet:
Google Earth 3d - Petgill Lake/Gonzales Creek area:
From there we made our way east through a relatively clear understory until we came to a minor bluff above an old cutblock. This gave us a bit of a view of Gonzales Creek on the other side. Knowing we would have to cross it, we made for a section we could see in trees that looked to have a few fallen logs crossing it.
Gonzales Creek from the cutblock:
This was the first of (many) stretches of the day where I lost sight of my feet and didn't see them for a few stretches at a time.
Arriving at the creek, we could see it was too deep and fast flowing to wade across safely. There were a few logs across the creek - all slippery. We located a good solid one that was mostly smooth with no branches/knots and made our way safely across.
Video: RamblingBull ass-scootches across the log:
On the other side and in more mature trees, the understory was sparser and much easier going. We aimed generally for the left of the left bump. There was occasional yellow flagging here, that seemed to be heading towards the col between the two bumps - perhaps a previous group marking their route?
RamblingBull lead the way up the bump, and took us up and over and along a fairly scrambly bluffy section. Finally, as we were starting to get cliffed out, we traversed along climbers left and got in a good gully, which we followed up and over the shoulder of the bump.
In pre-hike Google Earth scouting, RB had noticed an old logging spur road on the far side of this bump. This spur wasn't in my GPS map (note: ibycus topo actually shows many of the old roads up there - I was impressed, since I don't think the Garmim paps do), but RB thought from Google Earth that we could gain it on a switchback and follow it to the main deactivated road which would take us to USF.
Google Earth 3d - other side of bump and old spur roads:
We began out descent off the bump in a gully. Thankfully, while steep it wasn't cliffy or waterfally. Still, some scrambling required:
We kept descending but did not come across any spur road. I could see from my GPS that we were nearing the elevation of the major switchback of the main deactivated road (i.e. the one that would take us to USF trail).
We then entered an old cutblock (suggesting there was, in fact, an old road around there somewhere), and I again lost sight of my feet for a few minutes at a time.
RB is actually only a few meters ahead of me:
Thrashing through the cutblock for a while, we started angling towards our right to make sure we would not lose too much elevation and get too far below the other main road. Suddenly though in the distance (which, given the bushwack, was only 5m or so away), I could see an obvious grading - the spur road!
Emerging out on the old spur, I was surprised to see that we were right on the switchback - picture perfect navigation by luck!
We were a little wet by this point:
Google Earth 3d - sections above USF trail:
While a deactivated and very aldery old road, this spur was like a highway for us compared to what we had thrashed through:
We made excellent time hopping/dodging the alder. I was surprised to see from my GPS that this spur mostly paralleled the main deactivated road, not too far away from it (~30-50m). We past a few intersections with even more overgrown old spurs.
Eventually, and pretty close to the start of the USF trail, we intersected with the main deactivated road. It was clear this got some use, as there was a definite trail (clear(er) of alder, flagged, etc.) up it. This is the standard way most people start on the trek from USF to Petgill.
Thankfully, the large solid road bridge over Shannon Creek was left in when they deactivated these roads - the creek was very swollen and would have been impossible to cross otherwise. A minute or two past that and we reached the end of the USF trail. Now I was back on familiar ground.
The upper part of the USF trail it itself very beautiful as it is a pleasant meander through a lush mossy forest - another nice wet weather hike in of itself.
We ran into a group of 4 at Upper Shannon Falls itself and another 2 further down the trail. (This group asked us how much further it was to the 3rd Peak of the Chief, making it a perfect 3 for 3 times I've been on this trail that other hikers have thought they were heading to the Chief.)
The bridge across Olesen Creek was in surprisingly poor shape, with a few old/rotten planks having fallen through. Still, could cross safely, and joining up with the Chief trail we dropped out to the campground and then out.
A few notes for this trip:
-Now that I've done it, I have absolutely no interest of doing it again. This is one of those "because it's there" type of hikes - no views or otherwise interesting bits along the way.
-It's pretty much a GPS required route. No visual points of reference at all after Petgill, so it's easy to get turned around if you don't know exactly where you are and where you want to go (i.e. have waypoints so you can find the deactivated roads, end of USF trail, etc.).
-Be careful crossing the creeks, especially when rain swollen like they were for us.
-Only do if you are experienced and comfortable with heavy bushwacks - jacket, long pants, gaitors, gloves all essential.