Monday, June 13, 2011

Way Creek Trail No. 1235 (Teanaway, via Jungle Creek Road

Way Creek Trail (Trail No. 1235)

This hike in the Teanaway is longer than is used to be due to the washout on the Jungle Creek Road (Forest Road No. 9701). The road branches off (left) just past 29 Pines Campground at the junction with Forest Road No. 3797 (N. Fork Teanaway Road).

There is room for road-side parking on the “good” side of the washout where the road is closed. I’d guess it’s about 2+ miles from the washout to the Way Creek trailhead (you’ll pass the Jungle Creek trail on the way). The Jungle Creek trail is a good wildflower hike but there are several stream crossings – with melting snow we didn’t want to fuss with stream crossings today. There are no significant stream crossings on the Way Creek trail to the ridge that was our destination today.

The hike begins at the end of the road (3,600 feet approximately) and starts off steeply uphill (another branch of the trail descends to Way Creek and a connection with Trail No. 1393 (Middle Fork Teanaway trail). Trail No. 1393 is a hike we’d also like to try when stream crossings are less of a hassle (there are several stream crossings on that trail as well).

The multiple-use trail is quiet this time of year. It starts climbing immediately from the signed trailhead and doesn’t relent much until it attains the ridge-crest. You can see where motorized vehicles have left their mark on this climb but don’t let that keep you away from this Teanaway treat. If you are uncomfortable hiking multiple-use trails, you might consider another hike. We don’t mind multiple-use trails when we know ahead of time they are multiple-use.

The trail is rutted, wide and easy to follow. The trail is steep enough that users (of all persuasions) have created a side-trail. Use either one – when conditions are muddy or snowy, take the trail that suits you. On this warm day the mud had hardened and other than the steepness of the grade, there were no difficulties.

The climb is made more enjoyable by the burgeoning wildflowers – Arnica, balsamroot, trilliums, violets, Indian paintbrush, spring beauties, lupine and Mertensia (mountain bluebells). There’s also lots of serviceberry, a sweetly scented shrub that seems to prefer the east side of the crest.

About half-way up to the ridge the trail relents a bit and climbs through a ponderosa pine forest. Here you will climb over a few downed trees and one nasty blowdown (messy, not difficult). If it’s a warm day you’ll enjoy this forested stretch as the forest provides shade before it continues climbing through a rocky area (with expanding views). Mount Rainier comes into view but as is too often the case, the skies were slightly overcast and hazy. Not a good day to photograph The Mountain.

This is a pretty nice stretch of trail and the elevation gain is made easier with switchbacks as opposed to the straight-up road that precedes it. A few mossy Ponderosa pines stand beside the trail interspersed with rocky outcrops above the trail.
We crossed a couple of streams (dry) and hit a small patch of snow where the trail connects to the ridge. Here, you can go either direction (see map for possibilities). As for us, the ridge itself provided an ideal lunch spot with in-your-face views of Mount Stuart and the still mostly snowy Teanaway peaks.

I picked up a tick while taking pictures of flowers – no one else did. Speaking of flowers – Douglasia is blooming, lomatiums and lots of glacier lilies where the snow has just melted. Bitterroot will be in bloom probably within 10-14 days. After a bite to eat we continued along the ridge but began to get into snow. We turned around at the junction with the Koppen Mountain trail and retraced our route.

We’ll likely return soon to hike Jungle Creek, maybe continue over to Koppen if conditions are good.

Stats: From Jungle Creek washout to Koppen Mountain junction: About 10 miles round trip, 2,500 feet gain (including the road walk). Map: Green Trails No. 209 Mount Stuart.

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