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Tieton Peak Trail

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South Fork Tieton River, Surprise Lake, Tieton Peaks #1131, Tieton Glacier, Cold Lake — Aug 24, 2010 — C P
Multi-night backpack
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Cows and elk and goats, Oh My! Glacier Peak was not in the cards today, the weather would not hol...
  Cows and elk and goats, Oh My! Glacier Peak was not in the cards today, the weather would not hold, so we settled on the glaciers in the Goat Rocks.

  Got a late start though still found time for "the biggest peach we've ever seen" at the Naches fruit stand- a bit underripe.

  Started walking at 1pm after a 4 hour trip. Cows. South Fork Tieton River trail 2 miles to Tieton Peaks trail junction, slight right. So unmaintained the "trail not maintained" sign from a few years back is gone. Trail in good shape the 2.5 miles to the marsh.

  Cut straight across trying to stay on what looked to be the high ground, no such luck- the grass was just taller. Moved quickly to avoid sinking to the boottops.

  On the other side we stayed to the left following decent tread with occasional glimpses of the mountains at the valley head. Multiple trails soon made the route confusing but Maria kept us on track. Went a few hundred feet too high (right) but from here were able to scope out the rest of the route. Enjoyed knowing where we were and this beautiful alp slope instead of wandering around in the woods.

  Soon past the waterfalls and next to the creek coming from the Conrad Glacier we ascended to Cold Lake where we made camp. The multicolored stripes on Tieton Peak are a fitting backdrop to this bleak, stunning landscape. Walked around the lake pre retirement.

   Next morning made our way to the Conrad-Tieton saddle to see for the first time the Tieton Glacier, and what a sight indeed! Left most of our stuff here and dropped onto the glacier. Made our way down the gentle slope perhaps 500' to where we ascended snow slopes to the pass above Cispus Basin, where we could see the PCT far below.

  Retraced our steps, sliding safely much of the way and back up the Tieton Glacier, this time on the ice. Back at our stuff we made camp and headed up Tieton Peak to watch the sunset. The ridge here is scenic, easy walking. Spent a windy, coyote-song filled night at the saddle.

  Next morning (day 3) even windier though still sunny. Maria had managed to make breakfast while I slept. Soon clouds began pouring through the far pass and we knew time was of the essence. Ahead of the storm made our way from the Conrad-Tieton saddle, across the Conrad Glacier, to the Conrad-Meade col.

  Made our way down next to the Meade Glacier and to the campsite right of the stream coming off the glacier. Followed the faint trail on the ridge crest to where a better trail took us to the Surprise Lake loop. If you follow the stream from the Meade Glacier you'll run into it.

  Once on the loop made good time to Surprise Lake, and out to the car uneventfully. Total trip 3 days/2nights 20 miles 7000'. Expect to see plenty of wildlife (especially goats), and no people. Some routefinding and easy glacier travel.
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South Fork Tieton River #1120,Tieton Peak Trail #1131 — Jul 17, 2004 — coyote
Day hike
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The coyote is an explorer. He likes to think of himself and mate as Lewis and Clark. His mate, who ...

The coyote is an explorer. He likes to think of himself and mate as Lewis and Clark. His mate, who has a sarcastic bent, gently chides “Like Lewis and Clark with a GPS and a U.S. Geological Survey map.

The two left Conrad Meadows at precisely 10:50 AM under clear skies. The day was hot and humid as they made their way across the meadows on a dusty trail. They laughingly talked about the guide book written for hikers that complains bitterly about the ruts, dust, and horse messes. The coyote doesn’t have any patience for this. The backcountry horsemen are the natural allies of the coyote. They love the same places the coyote loves and he treats them with the courtesy accorded a friend.

At about one mile, the trail turns and enters a mile long segment of young Pine trees. The trail is a narrow corridor. The coyote remembers when these trees were babies, and he says to them “You guys have grown.” The pines don’t answer, but their presence is palpable and friendly.

The corridor of pines comes to an end at a private road where the trail enters the Goat Rocks wilderness. Perhaps a mile or a little less further, a faint tread heads to the right and is marked with a sign that simply says “Unmaintained Trail.” It is this trail that interests the coyote.

At one time, the trail was called the Tieton Peak trail although it doesn’t go to Tieton Peak. Supposedly it was originally used by the Army, then later by the US Geological Survey, climbers, and others and was eventually abandoned. Today, it is rarely used and only in the lower portions, by horseman and a few hardy hunters.

The trail climbs steeply, then moderating as it climbs through an old burn. A creek is heard and occasionally seen off to the left of the trail. The trail enters three distinct meadows, disappearing and then reappearing at the far side. Across the meadows are beautiful views of Mt. Curtis Gilbert, Tieton Peak, the Devils Horns, and Bear Creek Mt. At the third meadow, the coyote and mate walked across a bog and found the faintest remnants of the old trail disappearing into the woods and up the steep hillside. The two carefully examined the forest for signs of the old trail, but were able to travel perhaps 50 yards or so.

Returning to the meadow, coyote and mate found an older couple on horseback. It was hard to tell who was the most surprised, the hikers or the horsemen. Despite years of traveling through this area, neither had seen other travelers in this meadow. The older man on horseback was a unique looking man. A big handgun of some type was strapped to his hip, and his lean weathered face indicated a lifetime spent outside. His companion, a slightly younger woman, said she was teaching a new horse how to be a wilderness traveler. The man said he had last followed the trail up the hillside about 10 years before, and even then it had been difficult to follow. He shrugged and suggested we just find a game trail and try to catch the trail higher up the ridge. Turning, the two horse packers disappeared across the meadow and into the forest on the other side.

The coyote and mate sat for a time considering the possibilities. Clearly the day was drawing to a close. The forest beckoned and from time to time the noise of a large animal was heard up the slope. At last, the coyote and mate decided to return to Conrad Meadows, leaving the hillside for another day. While the coyote doesn’t fear getting lost, he doesn’t seek it. The two lifted their packs, turned homeward, and began the return trip across the peaceful meadow.

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Tieton Peak Trail (##1131)
South Cascades -- Goat Rocks

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