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John Guilford's Hikes

Gothic Basin on 1994-08-28

Date: 1994-08-28

Location: Gothic Basin

People: (including myself): Pam

			My Alt.	Real Alt.
Barlow Pass:	1:00	2100	2320
Trailhead:	1:30	2080	2320
K. K.'s Shower:	3:30	3740	4200?
Basin:		4:30	4640	5000
Foggy Lake:	5:30	4960	5250
Leave Basin:	6:00	4640
K. K.'s Shower:	6:50	3820
Trailhead:	8:30	2180
Barlow Pass:	9:00	2220
Due to my rowing class in the morning, we got a late start on this hike. 

The day was warm and sunny with a few high clouds.  It had been forecast to be cooler with morning showers, but they were wrong.  We ended up doing a surprising amount of sweating on the way up the trail. 

The bugs weren't too bad.  We had a couple of bees that buzzed around us on our walk down the road towards Monte Cristo.  They were attracted by the sunscreen I was putting on as I hiked.  Eventually they left us alone.  There were some annoying flies (small biting ones) on the first part of the hike.  They weren't bothering me (which was a surprise to me) but were annoying Pam on her legs.  She had shorts on, while I had my long, green nylon pants on.  I generally prefer long pants both for brush and for bugs.  Pam opted against insect repellent and higher up the trail the bugs disappeared.  They had gone before we came back down, so they weren't a problem then. 

Barlow pass was *real* crowded with cars.  The parking lot was full and cars were parked on the roadway for a ways down the road.  I guess a lot of people were trying to get a last fling on the summer before Labor Day.  We hiked in to the trailhead immediately before the first bridge without incident (except for those pesky bees).  They are working on replacing the bridge, it looks like.  They had a couple large metal I-beams laid out and a welder was working away on it.  Perhaps the reason is that the old bridge is considered not safe to drive on and there was a notice that fording the river in vehicles was destroying salmon spawning ground.  There were quite a few vehicles parked at the river, including a horse trailer. 

We started up the Weden Creek trail (west bank trail) with follows the river for a ways.  This was muddy in places, but not bad.  I was surprised that it was a muddy as it was with all the dryness we've had this summer.  After a ways, the trail turns right and starts up the hillside.  I keep forgetting how much uphill there is on this trail.  Despite my comments on earlier trip listings, I seem to have a mental image that this hike is relatively flat, which is isn't.  It is pretty consistently uphill most of the way to the basin. 

Pam was having trouble with her toe joints and had brought her sneakers along just in case.  About half way up, she ended up switching into them as her toes were just hurting too much in her boots.  The shoe change helped and allowed her to continue on to the basin (if she hadn't brought her other shoes, she doesn't think she'd have been able to go all the way). 

On the way up, Pam spotted some red huckleberries which she said tasted really good (she said her sister Andi would be jealous).  I didn't try them (I have this thing about not eating bright red berries on hikes).  Pam also spotted some of the dark blue/black huckleberries, but they were quite sour and tasted bad.  Blech. 

When you get about half or two-thirds the way up, you start getting better views into the valley and the surrounding mountains.  On the opposite side of the valley, a large red colored rock face comes into view.  Get used to it.  It is visible for the rest of the hike.  In some ways, it deceptively makes one feel that they aren't making progress, as, after hiking for some time, the face is still there, apparently unmoved, though a closer look reveals that the perspective (and hence your viewpoint) has indeed changed. 

You cross a couple stream gorges in the side of the hill.  I mistakenly called one of these King Kong's shower.  That feature doesn't occur until later (the third and last creek).  KK's shower is a water fall down the steep rippled rock face (the water runs down the face - it isn't really a waterfall) runs down and across the trail, and then continues down a steep rock face into the valley.  This time of year there wasn't a lot of water running, but it was still quite pretty. 

Somewhere around there one can begin to see views of Del Campo poking about the ridge.  At this point the trail is facing away from Del Campo, so you'd have to turn around to see it.  The trail continues, with some switchbacks, around a small hill before turning and climbing up to a pass and into the basin proper. 

The basin is real pretty.  Pam described it as 'pristine' meaning that it didn't look as used as, for example, Lake 22.  The basin does look wild and unspoiled, probably due to the difficulty getting there.  I really have to plan to visit it sometime when I can get there early enough to be able to spend some time exploring around the basin instead of having to leave soon. 

[ PIX2 ] When we first got to the basin, we stopped and rested and got some food, which made Pam feel 'a million times better.' By this time her feet (toes) were really sore and also her stomach was bothering her quite a bit.  She later theorized that the cause of the upset stomach was a banana she had eaten earlier.  Apparently, bananas don't go well with her anymore. 

After resting for a while and eating, Pam put her boots back on and got talked into ascending a bit higher to Foggy Lake.  Being this close, she wasn't going to let a little physical pain get in her way! Foggy Lake is [ PIX1 ] about 300' higher and almost fills the hollow below Del Campo.  Even though my official 'turn around' time was 5:00, we pushed it a little and didn't leave until 5:30, soon after arriving at the lake.  In order to get to the lake, the 'trail' kind of turns back on itself (with respect to the trail before the basin).  Below Del Campo, on the right side of the upper basin, is a low rounded pass that overlooks the trail.  In early season, when there is snow, ascending from the trail over the pass would be a quicker way to get to Foggy Lake than following the real trail around and through the lower basin.  It's hard to say what it would be like this time of year.  We didn't have time trying to mess with a new route, but it looks like it might make a quicker way out of the basin and back to the trail.  Of course, without trying it, one doesn't know if the brush would be bad or if one would run into cliffs.  Perhaps on my next trip, I can climb up to the pass and look down and get a better feel.  This is the pass that Jay and I ascended to on our trip of 91-06-09. 

[ PIX3 ] After climbing back down to the lower basin we started our hike back out.  By this time, Pam wasn't in very good shape, with a very upset stomach.  Unfortunately, I didn't have any antacids in my first aid kit so I couldn't help out.  About half way down, she took some acetaminophen which really helped out.  She'll have to remember that for the future.  We took our time on the way out, but still made better time going down than we did going up.  We figured that as long as we got back to the road before it got really dark we'd be okay.  The lower part of the trail would be pretty miserable in the dark, as there are numerous roots and rocks to step over.  We had a flashlight, but didn't want to have to need it.  The moon was just about last quarter, so it wouldn't rise until 11:30pm, so it would be pretty dark in the early evening. 

Pam's feet were hurting too much so she changed back into sneakers for the bottom two thirds of the hike.  This again helped, and the trail is good enough that the sneakers didn't present much problem (except a little at the mud at the bottom).  When we were passing the creek gorges we found a dog that had apparently lost its owners and was just going back and forth along the trail looking for them (unsuccessfully).  We felt bad for the dog but there wasn't much we could do.  Fortunately, a ways further down the trail, we came across a couple coming back up looking for the dog.  They found it and then passed us going back down, which made us feel better. 

It was getting dark as we went through the lower part of the trail, both because it was after sunset (at 8pm) and because of overhanging trees which blocked the existing light.  The only incident was when Pam caught her foot and fell.  The caught herself with her hands and suffered no damage from it. 

It was relatively dark when we got to the road, but we still had the mile back to Barlow Pass to go.  The road is open and easy walking, so we had no trouble getting back to the car, although it was getting quite dark by that time.  This was probably the darkest I've arrived back at the car.  On my Three Fingers hike of 89-09-23, we didn't arrive to the trailhead until 45 minutes after sunset.  Here, we arrive at the road 30 minutes after sunset, but didn't get back to the car until 60 minutes after sunset, though the last 30 minutes was easy going. 


[ PIX1 ] Del Campo Peak from Gothic Basin

[ PIX2 ] Pam in the basin. 

[ PIX3 ] Gothic Basin

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015