Sunday, July 22, 2018

Mother Mountain loop backpack trip Part 2 - Ipsut creek to Cataract Valley

As we were eating dinner Monday night at our Ipsut camp, some deer walked up from the old river bed and made their way through the campground nibbling on the grass. It was a nice, quiet setting for our first night out.
The old ranger cabin is still standing. We talked to some park workers who were working on the building. They said that there is a plan to have a ranger work out of the cabin again. As we were making our way to the trailhead Tuesday morning, I took a picture of the cabin. You can see that they are working on replacing the windows.

Time to make our way to Cataract Valley campground, part of this loop follows the Wonderland trail.


I love all of the different log bridges along the trail, some have hand rails some don't.

My husband crossing the Carbon river on the bridge in the photo below.

We came to a trail junction, we would be going on the lower trail today and at the end of our trip we'll be coming down this hill.

The Carbon river.

This narrow section of the trail was having some erosion issues.

The trail ends at this river crossing because it is too damaged, that is why we need to cross here and then re-cross it at the Suspension bridge to continue our route to Cataract Valley campground. We crossed this river last summer when we hiked the Northern loop trail, you can read about that trip HERE. The river had completely changed course from last year. It is flowing along the opposite bank this year. So as soon as we came down to the river bed it was time to cross the main channel. I was happy to see that the bridge was a nice fat log with a nice hand rail. I marched right across it so I could take a video of my husband crossing it. If you watch the video with your sound turned on you'll hear the river below.

I took a still photo during the video.

After we crossed the bridge we followed cairns to a short water crossing. It was about knee deep for me and had a nice soft sandy bottom. It was actually rather nice to cross.

More cairns to follow.

As we made our way across we could see bridges from seasons past, when the channel was along this bank. If you click on the photo below to enlarge it you'll see several bridges left from the carnage of past flows.

There was a forested section in the river bed. I like this picture of my husband leaning on the tree waiting for me to catch up.

Almost to the other bank of the river. It's a long rocky area to cross, thankfully there are cairns to follow.

One more bridge over a lovely clear stream, then on to the trail.

Our trail would lead us up towards the Carbon glacier. We would need to cross a Suspension bridge to get back across the river again,

Carbon River Suspension bridge.

I went across first so I could take a video of my husband's crossing.
Again if you have your sound turned on you'll be able to hear the breeze and the river below.

A still photo taken during the video,

We stopped for a lunch break before the long trek up to Cataract Valley at this wide bend in the trail junction.

The trail up to Cataract is pretty steep with many high steps framed with wood cut into the incline. Most of these steps are just a wee bit higher than my normal stride, so it's quite the workout with a full pack on my back. The camp sign was a welcome sight.

We had to cross this narrow bridge to get to our campsite and the bathroom trail. I side stepped across it as I didn't trust my balance with my full pack and no hand rail.  


We camped at site #6, we had stayed at this site 44 years ago when my husband and I first did the Wonderland trail together. I was glad it was available for us to stay this time. This site has several nice flat rocks that work for a kitchen area and nice logs and rocks around for sitting on. Some sites didn't have these luxuries.

There were "many" mosquitoes in this area, so I got out my mosquito head net and had a quick photo taken to show how lovely I am in it, before I put on some long pants. These rocks were our camp view, we could see Pika running around on the rocks. I enjoyed listening to them.

This particular site is up and away from the rest of the campground so it is a nice private, quiet place to spend the night. 

Relive video of our second day -

Garmin stats:
Miles hiked - 6.68 miles
Ascent - 2254 feet 
Descent - 610 feet

Next post Part 3 - Cataract Valley, up and over Seattle and Spray parks to Eagle's Roost campground


Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mother Mountain loop backpack trip Part 1 - Ipsut creek

We chose a loop trail in the Mount Rainier national park for our 5 day backpacking trip. It's known as the "Mother Mountain loop". We hadn't done this particular loop yet and thought it would be fun.
We drove to the Carbon River ranger station Monday morning and gave the ranger our proposed route and campsites. We got a Wilderness permit for each of the campsites that we had requested!


The hike begins at the gated parking area for the Carbon River trail. 


There used to be a drivable road to the Ipsut Creek "car" campground, but due to a storm in November of 2006 where 18 inches of rain fell in 36 hours the road was damaged and it was closed to cars. You can read about the flooding and damages to the park HERE. There is a 5 mile road walk in to the campground. 

Rest break time, it's always nice when you can find a nice log to sit on and get the pack off for a bit. We bring a few extras that most people probably wouldn't bring like: warm clothes and rain gear even though there was a good weather forecast for while we would be on the trail, so our packs were pretty full. I weighed my pack before we left home and it was about 40 lbs. 
Better safe than sorry, that's our motto!

Walking along the Carbon river.

The bridge below is just before the campground.

There are alot of trees down in the campground, but there are several sites for camping available.
We chose site #10 for the night.


 I marked out the route we took on the map below.

I used my Garmin to track our distances each day. Our day’s total was a bit more than it should have been, that's why I like to look at the route after we finish to see just what happened. On the relive video below, it shows where the GPS got crazy and went off trail for a ways. It should have been a fairly straight route, but at about the five mile mark you'll see what I mean. It looked like it freaked out when we came along side a hill. I'm glad it found us again and followed us into camp!
Relive video of our first day -
https://youtu.be/6DiXI3wkAQ8

Garmin stats: 
Miles hiked - 6.42
Ascent - 620 feet
Descent - 46 feet
Next Post: Part 2 - Ipsut Creek campground to Cataract Valley campground.