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Wolf Creek

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There are 18 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Wolf Creek, Gardner Mountain — Aug 23, 2013 — Walksalot
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"What kind of animal tries to steal someone's ice axe in the middle of the night?" isn't a question ...
"What kind of animal tries to steal someone's ice axe in the middle of the night?" isn't a question it ever occurred to me to ask, but after being woken up by something trying to haul mine away from my tent in Gardner Meadows, it's one I'll be pondering for a while.

I started out on the Wolf Creek trail at 7:00 in the evening, knowing I wouldn't make my intended camp site at Gardner Meadows (ten and a half miles away) in daylight. Having decided to try to get another hike in earlier in the day and max out my miles for Hike-A-Thon (to sponsor me, be sure to go to:[…]amp;AID=2449&PID=369727), I knew I'd be hiking by headlamp.

This is a long, up-and-down sort of trail, but easy enough to follow in the dark. Hiking in the dark has its rewards, especially here - the sound of owls hooting from the trees, the occasional snap of twigs from deer in the forest (and sometimes their eyes reflecting back at you from the pitch black), the eventual rise of the moon. I got in to Gardner Meadows around 11:30, set up camp and took some nighttime photos. I was happy to turn in at the end of a very long day.

When you're sleeping alone in a tent, it's easy to let your imagination run a little wild. Your brain turns every chipmunk into a grizzly bear. Every deer sneeze sounds like the snort of an angry wolf. I'm not paranoid about things that go bump in the night, but when I heard metal clank on rock at 2:30 in the morning, I realized that something was dragging my ice axe away from right in front of the tent! What diabolical kind of animal steals a man's ice axe?

Unfortunately, I don't know, because by the time I grabbed my headlamp and stuck my head out, there was nothing to see. I wish I could say I did the rational thing and shrugged off what was probably just a curious deer that got its foot stuck in the tether while sniffing at my sweaty socks a few inches and one thin layer of nylon away from his nose, but the lizard part of my brain wasn't having any of it. After some time outside the tent looking for the culprit, I went back to bed and did get some more sleep. I took the ice axe with me.

Gardner Meadows is a lively place, so it's no surprise something got into camp. The entire area is dotted with holes from Columbian ground squirrels. They are literally everywhere. I saw a lot of deer, many of which moved with me up the slopes above the meadows as sun started to hit the valley. I even saw one on the summit ridge of North Gardner, weird behavior possibly explained by the other thing I experienced just after daybreak: barking and whining from what sounded like a group of dogs on the far side of Wolf Creek. Could it have been the Lookout Pack of gray wolves that just had pups this spring, or was it just the more likely possibility, a group of coyotes?

Feeling less than fully rested, I set out for Gardner Mountain, hoping to tag the summit before breaking camp and hiking out. The ice axe stayed behind - the snow is completely melted from both Gardner peaks. Gardner proved to be neither trail nor climb - just a long, unedifying slog first over the uneven meadows and then over scree. Still feeling the effects of the prior day's efforts and knowing I had to do the ten and a half miles the other way, I packed it in well before the summit.

It was still worth it. Gardner Meadows is an unexpectedly beautiful location, thankfully spared from the scars of a fire that ravaged many other parts of the upper end of the valley.

If you go here, the most important thing to know is that the trail stays away from the creek most of the time, so water can be somewhat scarce. Wolf Creek is a short walk from the camps in the meadows, but otherwise, if you need water, take it when you see it.

That and - evidently - keep a close eye on your gear!
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Wolf Creek — May 25, 2013 — mynameisdanny
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Blowdowns
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By the time I found the trail head (which was a bit of adventure in and of itself), I only had a lit...
By the time I found the trail head (which was a bit of adventure in and of itself), I only had a little over an hour to work with, so only managed to go in for 35 minutes and then returned. Only a few small trees, which were easy to climb over, blocked portions of trail. No overgrowth as of now to report. I'm hoping to return tomorrow to do the entire trail. I moved here from Colorado, and it's nice to see a healthy forest! (Not littered with beetle kill)

Because I had trouble with GoogleMaps directions, I'm including these:
From Winthrop- West on Hwy 20. Go approximately .7 miles, turn right onto Twin Lakes road.Go 1.3 miles, turn right onto Wolf Creek. Go 3.0 miles, turn left onto L. Fork Wolf Cr Dr.. From there stay on the main dirt path, following signs for Wolf Creek Trail, which is 4.4 miles up into the hills. Trail head is at dead end of dirt road. Hope this helps!
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Wolf Creek — Jul 01, 2012 — Justin
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming
Issues: Overgrown
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Ran out to about 5mi and then back. The trail was generally good, with a few places of some encro...
Ran out to about 5mi and then back.

The trail was generally good, with a few places of some encroaching brush. Only one or two places had really thick brush.

The log bridge is in great shape (one of the better ones, actually. Even has stairs:))

The slide areas are a little slippery, so don't slip!
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Wolf Creek and Gardner Mountain #527 — Jul 04, 2008 — Malamonster
Day hike
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The wolf creek trail is clear of blow downs all the way to Gardner Meadows. Infact the trail is in g...

The wolf creek trail is clear of blow downs all the way to Gardner Meadows. Infact the trail is in great shape. Day 1 - This was a great first backpack to get the legs under us. 11 miles of gradual up through pine forest and then the last 4-5 miles or so through an old burn. The regrowth has been quick and the wild flowers are in full bloom. If the wind blows the trees whistle. It sounds like screeming - pretty bizarre. When we got to the end of the meadow there were some great camp sites near some spruce trees that made it through the fire. We set up camp and went to bed early for a day hike up Gardner Mountain - another 3000+ elevation gain. Day 2 - Views from the top were spectacular. Easy climb. Weather came in so we quickly down to hunker in until the rain passed. Spent the rest of day sleeping. That night timber wolves or maybe they were coyotes were howling. Our malamute was singing back to them. They kept up the dialogue going for about an hour. It was amazing. Day 3 - Beautiful morning watching the sunrise, drinking coffee and just taking in the glorious meadow. Then headed out to grab some pub grub & brewskys at the Winthrop Brewery. But when we arrived we were disappointed to find a sign that said ""Closed for Remodel"". Augg.... ice cream was the next best thing.

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Wolf Creek #527 — Sep 16, 2007 — The Toad
Day hike
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Another new trail for us. Didn't have time to do much more than scope out the terrain. Downloaded th...

Another new trail for us. Didn't have time to do much more than scope out the terrain. Downloaded this hike off of the Okanogan NF website. Printed off the trail description and kept our fingers crossed we'd get there. We needed our Gazeteer to find the trailhead in the end, because the road names and turns didn't match the access description.

You do drive S. out of Winthrop crossing the Methow River on a bridge, but the road you turn right on is Twin Lakes Rd. Go about 1.5 mi. and turn right on Wolf Creek Rd. and then stay left on Left Fork Wolf Creek Rd., which, if I recall correctly turns into FSR 5505, which climbs up over the ridge and ends at the trailhead well above Wolf Creek.

Several horse trailers at the trailhead, one couple leaving as we arrived, but an otherwise empty parking lot!! First part of the trail is a pleasant down, down, down to the creek, then up and down from there, staying mostly above the creek for the few miles we managed before turning around. There was a pile of what looked like bear scat (berry pile) on the trail, saw some Clark's Nutcrackers, heard and saw many squirrels, and nary a bug in sight. Hurrah! Dusty, dry trail right now. Not a soul seen in 3 hours on the trail, which earns it a Toady boop, boop.

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Wolf Creek (#527)
North Cascades

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