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John Guilford's Hikes

White Chuck on 1997-08-13

Date: 1997-08-13

Location: White Chuck

People: (including myself): Pam

			My Alt.	Real Alt.
Leave home:	9:40	500
Arlington:	10:00	80
Darrington:	10:45	520
FS22:		11:05	960
Trailhead:	12:00	4640
Start: 12:10 4880 4880 Out of trees: 1:00 5340 Top of scree: 1:30 5630 Stop: 3:20 6480 Start down: 3:40 Bottom gully: 5:30 5620 Into trees: 5:55 5300 Out: 6:45 4860

Sauk Prairie Rd 7:40 780 Darrington: 7:44 Home: 8:37

New approach synopsis:

From downtown Darrington, turn left towards the FS Ranger Station.  Just before the ranger station, turn right onto Sauk Prairie Rd.  Cross the Sauk River and, about 1.9 miles from the ranger station, turn right (south) onto FS24.  Follow this about 8.3 miles to a left onto FS2430.  From here on it is the same as before, but I'll repeat it for convenience.  About 1/2 mile up FS2430, take a right onto FS2435.  Stay on FS2435 for about ~5.3 miles (noting that at 1 mile FS2436 takes a right at a switchback).  Stay on FS2435 which is the left or straight, you should shortly pass the iron grate).  This will take you over the top of a rounded knoll.  At ~5.3 miles from FS2435 take a right (unmarked) and continue to end of road in 0.6 miles at 4880' where the trail should start. 

On the way out from White Chuck, we inadvertently took the wrong turn from FS2430->FS24.  Instead of coming out on FS22, we ended up on Sauk Prairie Rd, though we didn't know it at the time.  This is a quicker way to get to White Chuck.  The distance along FS roads is about the same (FS22->FS24 is 4 + 4.1 = 8.1 miles, S-P Rd. is 8.3 miles) but you save the time driving between Darrington to FS22 (about 15-20 minutes). 

I recalled the hike/climb as not being terribly bad, but perhaps my recollection is fuzzy.  We got a reasonably early start (for us :-).  We did stop in Arlington for 5 to 10 minutes to pick up some apples and also in Darrington at the Ranger Station for a last minute pit stop.  We had no trouble following my directions from the previous visit to White Chuck and got to the trail head just fine.  FS22 was pretty full of pot holes, but FS24 and beyond were in better condition on the whole.  Of course, on account of the new drive in (which bypasses FS22) this shouldn't be an issue in the future.  The road in is pretty steep in places and it was nice to have the truck (which has a higher ground clearance than the Celica).  On several of the steeper parts I noticed that my rear wheels were slipping a bit (courtesy of the lack of weight back there). 

We found the trail at the end of the road easily and followed the trail in to along the ridge line.  The bugs were annoying (flies and mosquitos), much more so than on most hikes I've done out here, but it wasn't annoying to the point of putting on bug repellent.  Breaking out of the trees we followed the directions to stay above the major rock field and had an okay time crossing to below the gully.  The "trail" was pretty faint and I'd lose it and re-find it, but the going wasn't too bad.  Below *the* gully, you have to climb up a long, miserable scree slope.  You then go up the gully some distance before exiting the gully to traverse upwards across benches towards the summit.  The gully is really some place where you should have helmets, particularly if there is anyone above you as it is real easy to loose small rocks that can be a problem for people below.  I think we exited out of the gully a bit early, or actually perhaps about the right place.  My problem was that I had considerably more difficulty trying to find the boot tracks (that in the past have been easy to find) to follow.  I think I tried traversing too much too soon instead of going more upwards.  Occasionally we found some "trails" but it isn't obvious is these were from climbers or from marmots and goats.  These kept petering out and I'd have to bushwhack.  The heather grows pretty low there and that wasn't too much of a problem, but it is a nuisance trying to traverse across sloping terrain.  Pam's toes were cramping up by now, which made it less fun to keep going.  Pam also wasn't very fond of the scrambling, as she didn't feel her boots gave much grip.  The thought of going back down some of the scrambles caused her (and me) some concerns also.  After some false leads and some back tracking we scrambled up one steep gully (not *the* gully) we found what looked like the "main" trail up.  We went some distance further on, but it was getting late and that trail seemed to peter out also.  I may have missed a turn, but the route we were on seemed to either require a nasty scramble up a rock face (which I was sure Pam wouldn't want to do) or a traverse right above what appeared to be cliffs (which seemed too dangerous to try).  It was getting late and we were psyched out.  We could see the summit ahead, but it wasn't worth trying to get to due to the hour, the pain in Pam's feet, and the lack of a good route (I wonder if the boot track is more obvious in later season after more climbers have been up and down).  After having some food we started back down.  We followed the main track which worked much better than the way we went up.  The "trail" sort of followed the ridge line back down, doing some switchbacks, and ending up with a view over the ridge to the glacier.  We then switch-backed down the heather slopes besides *the* gully till it looked like the slopes were going to be a pain to keep going.  We made our way into the gully with Pam leading.  She got into the gully and I was following her in.  Just as I got into the gully proper, a rock I was using for a hand hold pulled loose.  It (and I and the smaller rocks around it) then started sliding down the gully.  The rock that pulled loose was pretty good sized (about 1-1/2' x 1' x 1/2' roughly?) and I didn't like the thought of it crashing down the gully (running me over and possibly hitting Pam).  I didn't slide too far (between 3 and 5' maybe) and after the rock sort of landed on top of me I got it under my arm and held it to the slope till we stopped sliding.  It scared the tar out of Pam and gave me a major boost of adrenaline.  It banged my arm up pretty good too.  After things settled and I decided I (and it) wasn't going to slide more, it got to damage assessment time.  My left are has some cuts and abrasions and was mostly numb.  I was happy to see that I could still bend it (nothing broken) though I really couldn't put much stress on it at all.  After laying on the slope for a bit and hyperventilating for a while, I calmed down and got some water.  Another climber came down while we were recuperating and he went further down the shelves before going into the gully for the final descent.  I don't know if it was our frame of minds, but the gully seemed looser and more dangerous than it did on my previous visits.  After waiting for the other climber to clear the gully below us, we started out descent again (which was a pain for me, as I could only use my left arm a limited amount due, I believe, from the bruising I gave it in the rock slide).  The rocks were pretty loose and we kept sending rocks falling down the gully.  We soon decided to bail out of the gully, descend the heather further, and then go back into the gully which is what we did.  I had some difficulty with my arm, and Pam had some difficulties with her feet and toes.  By this time the fun had gone out of the hike and we just wanted to be home.  We got down with out any more noteworthy events. 

The bugs weren't as bad on the hike back along the ridge, but they were still obviously there.  We started down the logging roads just wanting to get home, get clean, and get some food.  To get in, you take a paved road south out of Darrington, cross over the Sauk river and turn onto FS (Forest Service) road 22 heading back towards Darrington (but on the other side of the river).  In 4 miles you turn onto FS24.  In four more miles you turn on to FS2435.  Any ways, we were coming down (coming down is easy as you pretty much just aim down hill).  We got to FS24 with no problem, but as we kept driving, it didn't look that familiar.  At one point we crossed a concrete bridge over a creek.  Both Pam and I said, "I don't recall crossing this bridge." For a while we thought that we must have taken a wrong turn (where the heck are we) but then we crossed another side road, FS2420, which, knowing the numbering scheme of the FS, was another side road off of FS24, so we knew we were on the right road (i.e. FS24).  We figured that we just hadn't noticed the bridge on the way up.  It seemed like it was taking too long to get to FS22 when we came up to the intersection.  Whew! Almost out now.  However, when we got to the intersection, it was paved! Yikes! This *isn't* FS22.  Where the heck are we?? I didn't have a clue where we were or where we should go.  I arbitrarily turned right and then decided that we'd better get out a map and figure out where we were.  It was a quiet country road and I didn't find any good pull off areas so I just stopped in the middle of the road and dug out the map.  Before I could really get a look at it, someone came up, pulled even with my window, and asked if he could help (apparently my truck, sitting in the middle of the road with its hazard flashers going gave the impression that all was not right).  I felt like an idiot when I asked, "Excuse me, but could you tell me what road this is?" His answer of something like "Furry Rd." (he must have said "Prairie Rd.) didn't help any.  Before we could get any further, another car came up and he had to move his car out of the way.  A short exchange later, we got the answer we really wanted, namely, which direction to go towards Darrington.  My initial guess was wrong (which was about par for the day) so we turned around and almost immediately got to Darrington.  Looking at the map, it became clear what had happened.  When I got to FS24 I turned the wrong way.  I had assumed that FS24 eventually dead ended someplace but it doesn't.  It continues along and winds up where we were.  Apparently the turn from FS24 onto FS2430 is near the high point of FS24 so that going in either direction on FS24 is down hill and hence the "correct" way out.  As a fortunate mistake, even with the delay of getting directions, I found that that way out is faster (15 minutes) than the way we went in. 

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