[pct-l] Rainy Pass to Manning--trail notes for northbounders

Tom Griffin griffin at u.washington.edu
Mon Sep 4 09:30:52 CDT 2006

Just got back from a week-long hike on Section L from Rainy Pass to 
Manning. Here are some brief notes for thru hikers coming north and 
anyone else considering that stretch of the PCT.

The trail is in great shape but water is going to be a problem. Get 
water during the first three miles after Rainy Pass.  There isn't any 
for about 5-6 miles till you approach Methow Pass.  The next waterless 
section comes when the trail leaves Brush Creek on the way to Glacier 
Pass. There is water in Brush Creek but it is running mostly underneath 
the river rocks. While the guidebook says there is no late-season water 
at Glacier Pass, we found some. At the pass campsite, walk west. You 
will find another campground but keep walking west. Follow a boot track 
downhill to a meadow and a slow-moving stream. Be sure to water up here, 
because it is a hot and heavy 4-mile hike to the next water, about a 
mile after Grasshopper Pass. After this mountain creek on the side of 
Tatie Peak, there is no water until the Meadows Campground near Harts 
Pass--another 4 to 5 miles. You need to take the cutoff from the trail 
to get to that campground.

There is no water at Harts Pass, but the forest service rangers have a 
water station at the closed ranger station. There may also be some trail 
magic at the station, so be sure to check it out.  If that water is 
gone, there is a creek flowing about 1/4 mile after Harts Pass on the 
trail.  The next water is at the Benson Creek campsite about  three 
miles after Harts Pass. You have to walk down from the trail to get this 
water. The next reliable water is about six miles later when the PCT 
crosses Shaw Creek after the Devil's Backbone. We found water on the 
trail but if it is dry at the crossing, go down 100 feet and the creek 
will come out of the rocks.

After Shaw Creek you are on another waterless stretch from about 5 miles 
until you cross the outlet for the Goat Lakes. There is also a spring 
about a mile after that outlet crossing. Get water here. There is NO 
reliable water until Hopkins Lake, about 8 miles after this spot. The 
spring by Woody Pass mentioned in the guidebook was dry on Aug. 29. 
After Hopkins Lake, water is not a problem until you cross the border. 
Get water at one of the streams coming off the ridge on the way up to 
Windy Joe Mountain, two or three miles after the border. There is no 
more water on the trail after that point.

Other notes: There are NO campgrounds along Brush Creek after the PCT 
leaves the Methow River (the guidebook says there are two along the 
trail). There is a lot of deadfall between Hopkins Lake and the 
border--this stretch is not possible for stock. There is also a lot of 
bear scat on this section, but we didn't see any bears. Smoke from the 
Tatoosh Buttes fires was bothersome some days and cut down on the views. 
It seems to get worse as you hike north. The last miles of the trail in 
Canada seemed very, very LONG to me. Don't think it is over when it 
turns into gravel.

The folks at the lodge are great--very hiker friendly. The Greyhound to 
Vancouver is a LONG ride, but Amtrak to Seattle is amazingly beautiful. 
Your ride along the coastline at sunset, looking over the strait and 
Puget Sound with islands dotting the landscape.

We ran into 2002 thru hiker Little Ewok at the Harts Pass Ranger 
Station. She was excited to see some PCT hikers--even if we were "just" 
section hikers--and gave us Gatorade and offered a bottle of wine. It 
was great to experience some trail magic.

I will post a URL for a full trip report in a few days. Good luck to the 
northbounders as they complete their journey!

Tom Griffin (Bullfrog)
PCT Pages: http://griffinte.home.comcast.net/pct.html

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