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Trip Report    

Backpack - Pacific Crest Trail: White Pass to Walupt Lake

Seattle Backpacking Intermediate Program Trip - Key Exchange trip with Northbound & Southbound groups - late August 2023. Trip highlight was traversing the "knife Edge" & some participants summited "Old Snowy"

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • this route includes the famed “knife edge” traverse which wouldn’t be recommended for anyone who struggles with heights…a trip, fall or stagger could have significant consequences. The vistas & views are most fantastic in this area. We needed to adjust our plans due to a storm forecast that as for the day the southbound were to be traversing this terrain.

    the far out app (guthooks pct crowdsourced trail guide) was very useful for late season water sources.

    there were some beautiful small patches of late season flowers, but I think mid-late July would be stunning in many of these areas (but you’d also likely need microspikes. There were still snow patches traversed…one of took the upper route (the alternate pct route - close to old snowy) & two more on the lower (more direct - official pct route) no trouble, other than mindful stepping & poles were very helpful.

This trip was part of the Seattle intermediate backpacking program. We met & exchanged cars at the Cowlitz Ranger Station.

The northbound group enjoyed camping our first night at Snowgrass Flats. We found a large flat, grassy camp site about 300 feet up on the right/east side of the trail across from the main water source at Snowgrass Flats. We had a group of coyotes serenade us as we set-up camp (so cool).


Day 2: Some of us enjoyed taking the alternate route to summit the peak of Old Snowy mt. There was a small amount of scrambling just at the last 20 ft. Bootpath all of the way up.


Knife edge was rewarding and not for those who may have fear of heights.


We met with the other group for our key exchange! Having InReach with both leaders was essential for coordination and communication.

Day 3: We camped at the last Elk Pass campsite that had enough room for 5 tents. It was predicted to start raining with thunder and lightning starting at 7 am. The group decided to get up at 5:30 am to pack up and head out at 7 am to beat the rain. Ultimately, the rain was a few sprinkles,so we arrived at Hidden Springs just before noon. The group decided to move ahead to Shoe lake as a potential site for camping. We arrived to learn that there is no camping at the lake, although it is clear people do. We kept hiking as the day was so early, to find very few camp sites available and no water sources nearby. The decision was made to hke out for the day. Arrived at White Pass at 5 pm. Had a nice dinner in Enumclaw. Great trip! Might recommend it earlier in August for more water sources.

The Southbound group started oogling at the wide vistas quickly. A few participants used the far out app (guthooks guide) to direct us to a hidden springs campsite with a 180 degree vista of the goat rocks range & stunning old snowy peak. We lingered in the warm sunshine & some napped as the afternoon evening light show moved across the horizon.


Day 2: Our initial plan was to join the northbound group at elk pass camp for night 2, but an incoming storm lead adjust our palms & extend our day so we could traverse the knife edge in the afternoon while the weather co-operated (so we could be in the snow grass flats area when/if the storm arrived). We met the NoBo group in the elk pass area & exchanged stories/keys then couldn’t pick our jaws off the rocks for the vistas along the ridge. Even though there was haze, the sights were awe inspiring & a couple of us summited old snowy late afternoon. The walk to the same camp the NoBo group used was glorious as the wide open snowgrass flats & Mt Adams dominated the views.


Day 3: The rain/thunderstorms didn’t arrive in the early am as forecast, but moderate wind gusts did so 2 of our group slept/chilled while the other 2 day hiked to goat lake. After lunch we packed up & everyone headed to sheep lake for night 3 camp. Traversing cispus basin was another jaw dropping experience but mouths were intermittently closed for huckleberries/blueberries along the way - so delicious


Day 4: After a restful night we took in more vistas featuring Mt Adams & descended into the forest to our cars at the Walupt Lake trailhead - happy, tired, smelly, dirty yet rejuvenated with new friend’s & adventure partners secured.


A most fantastic 4 days in the goat rocks wilderness.