Trip Report    

Cowlitz Park Traverse

As alpine, beautiful, remote, and strenuous a one-way alpine traverse that anyone could ask for, with meadows, waterfalls, river fords, and glacial remnants.

  • Tue, Sep 15, 2015
  • Cowlitz Park Traverse
  • Scrambling
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles

As alpine, beautiful, remote, and strenuous a one-way alpine traverse that anyone could ask for (see link to my photos below). Stats were ~19 miles/ ~5000' and S5/T3, plus prior river crossing experience. This trip was on 9/12-13, and due to a late start (had to get permit at Longmire after staging White River shuttle due to unscheduled Paradise permit ranger station closure) we forded our highest volume river fork at 2pm (good thing everyone was tall ;). Neoprene water socks were great for the crossings (grippy soles, did not let pebbles in, helped with cold, lightweight, stayed on unlike the crocs that some almost lost). Even though did not cross any snow or ice, ice axes were critical for crossings. Scenic wonders as promised, glaciers, streams emanating from glaciers, river fords, uncountable waterfalls, meadows, alpine vistas, and even debris from an airplane crash in the 50's. Extremely rare view of an ~80' diameter ice arch in the vestigial remains of a portion of the Cowlitz Glacier. The point of this trip was very much about the journey, although we did visit Pt 6859. Although it was S5/T3, would highly recommend for folks with prior river crossing experience. Do it soon or you'll have to wait until next year.

Photos of entire trip:
Vista from eastern moraine at ~5800' showing ice arch:

Actual Saturday Times (get permit day before for guaranteed early start):
9:30am Leave Paradise (Paradise RS was not open, went to Longmire)
11:00am Stevens Creek ford
2:00pm 1st Cowlitz River ford (2 crossings for less volume, wider spots)
3:00pm 2nd Cowlitz River ford
3:30pm Lateral moraine crest at ~5800'
5:30pm Summit of Pt 6859
6:00pm Reach Cowlitz Park campsite

Actual Sunday Times:
9:30am Leave campsite
10:30am Indian Bar
1:00pm Panhandle Gap
2:30pm Summerland
4:30pm Fryingpan Creek trailhead