Another successful overnighter on the books! And, if you’ll take a look at the widget to the right… we have broken 100 miles this year!
This weekend we backpacked the Siouxon Creek in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest area in Washington. Another gorgeous riverside hike and campsite. While still a relatively easy (i.e. flat) hike, we did hike in a little further this time – a little over 3 miles to our site.
Gifford Pinchot National Forest (Washington)
Total hike distance: 6.6 miles to campsite and back (the trail does go further than that)
Elevation gain: 456 feet
Click map for full GPS data
From the parking lot, the trail drops about 50 feet quickly to reach the water. From there on out, the trail more or less follows the creek. By the way, don’t let the “Creek” in the name fool you… this is no babbling brook. There are some pretty gnarly rapids at times, as well as very deep swimming holes around some of the falls. The trail leads through lots of deliciously mossy old-growth forest perched above the creek bed.
Crossing West Creek
Looking down onto the Siouxon Creek (a particularly narrow section)
After about two miles we came across the first big waterfall, Horseshoe Creek Falls. The trail crosses a bridge across the top of the falls, but there is also a small scramble track down toward the base for a view looking up – of course this is where I headed to take some photos.
Looking back up at Paul on top of Horseshoe Creek Falls
A swirling pool of turquoise water at the top
Shortly after crossing the bridge, there is a spur trail that takes you down to a lower viewpoint at the base of the falls on the other side. There are also some campsites here. Stellar views from these sites, if you don’t mind the constant misty spray from the plunging falls.
Another view of Horseshoe Creek Falls, taken from one of the available campsites
In about another quarter mile, another waterfall! This one is Siouxon Falls. There is a big swimming hole at the base, accessible by a couple of very steep scramble tracks. We didn’t go for it this time, conditions were sort of wet and the water is still ice cold.
Of course, there is another grouping of campsites located here as well with great views, but it looked like a group of Scouts had beat us to it. According to our guide book there was another bunch of sites 1.1 miles further, so we forged on. Sure enough, after about a mile we saw some unmarked spur trails heading down to our left. We checked one out and found our home!
Just like on our Salmon River backpacking trip, we scored a spot right on the water. The site is huge, plenty of room for our gear and for hanging out. Plus, no one else seemed to have bothered to venture that far along the trail, so it was nice and secluded.
Surrounded by green… this photo is unedited, it was really this green.
Buckley taking a dip. A very quick dip… water was freezing!
After setting up camp and having a snack, we headed back out with our lightened packs to check out the trail beyond our campsite. We didn’t go too far, but did get to see Wildcat Falls (which I didn’t take a picture of, drat) and some more pretty scenery.
Lots of little tributaries to cross on the trail. It must be the kid in me, but I absolutely love to stomp through these with my waterproof boots!
After our walk we settled in for the night – lots of freeze-dried food, trail mix, instant coffee and wine ensued. Sadly, the only thing we were without was a fire. After several days of rain, there was not a dry twig to be found. Even using firestarters we could not get a single thing to burn (maybe we should have gone back and asked the scouts for some help?). Luckily it was pretty warm, and it stays light out pretty late, so we hardly missed it.
Sitting by our would-be fire, using some nifty slings that turn our sleeping pads into chairs.
Of course we brought the PlatyPreserve, filled with a delicious 2008 blend called Momentum from Cor Cellars (one of the wineries we visited last weekend).
This gigantic tree stump served as a wonderful table top. I kind of want it in my dining room. Wouldn’t that be awesome?!
After it got dark, we retired to our tent for the night. Unlike our last backpacking trip, this time we found a nice, level, flat piece of ground for our tent… so I had a wonderful night’s sleep listening to the sounds of the creek, without sliding to one end of the tent or having to negotiate the tree root under my back. Aaaahhh. We even got Buckley his own Thermarest doggy sleeping pad, which he enjoyed immensely. After a peaceful night, we woke up to the sound of rain at sunrise. That’s okay, still a soothing sound… plus, according to the forecast any rain was supposed to be done and gone by 7am. In reality, our soothing drizzle turned into an increasingly hard and steady rain. So, we packed up our stuff very strategically to maximize our dryness. And you know what, I think we did a pretty damn good job. Paul had the brilliant idea of purchasing a couple extra tarps ($5 each for spare tent footprints at Next Adventure, amazing deal!!) which really saved our asses. After successfully getting everything into our packs, we started on the hike back. By this point, I think the only word to accurately describe the rain is drenching. Aside from the downpour, all we could hear was the squish squish squish of each footstep. While this might sound miserable, it was strangely enjoyable. We were wearing waterproof foot gear, head-to-toe quick-drying fabrics, and had draped tarps over our packs to keep them dry… so really, what’s to worry about? It wasn’t cold, so all that was left to do was enjoy the shower. We were sufficiently soaked to the bone when we got back to the car. There was, naturally, not another soul around that morning, making it easy to conduct a quick costume change to rid ourselves of wet socks and skivvies. 🙂
After dealing with that rain, I must say I feel a little more like a wilderness girl. Is there a patch or something I can add to my sash? The “packed and stuffed all my soaking wet gear and then marched back to the car without complaining and then got nekkid in the parking lot” patch? I’ll put it next to my “dug my first cathole” patch. Which I also earned on this trip. Google at your own risk.