I originally had intended to take a trip up Fish Creek today, however due to unforseen circumstances, that trip will have to be postponed until later. So, as an alternative, I thought I might take advantage of the "before the bug hatch" season to check out Cottonwood meadows.
A few notes about the hike:
- There is still a LOT of snow up there! I was unable to drive to the trailhead due to too much snow on the road. I got a little past the shellrock creek trailhead, and had to trim some of the alders leaning over the road, but finally got stopped due to over a foot of snow on the road. I turned my truck around and hiked the rest of the way, which was about a mile and a half to the real trailhead. There are only patches of snow, but further up the road, it got almost 2' thick on the road, so it will be a little while before you can drive all the way up, and there will probably need to be more trimming of the trees next to the road, since they are increasingly taking over the road. Why didn't they continue the nice brushing after the Shellrock Creek trail? The road to that point is great, and then they stopped. Maybe a good project for the stimulus money?
- Once on the trail, the beginning of the trail was covered in a couple of feet of snow. I was able to find the trail fine and made it down a bit to where the trail was snow free. The trail was in pretty good condition, probably 10-12 downed trees. There is only one really bad spot, where a rotten tree fell right down the center of the trail, making a huge mess and covering the trail.
- I was disappointed that there was not more flowers. It doesn't appear this area has yet woken up from winter yet. There were a few small flowers blooming, and the bog plants were starting to come up, but haven't bloomed yet. I was hoping for a bunch of wildflowers.
- This place is WET, WET, WET. You can't walk thru the meadows since they are basically shallow lakes right now, and trying to walk around the side of the large meadow/lake the ground is just like a huge sponge. You step and you can hear the ground squish under your feet.
All in all a good day, however not quite what I had expected. Also the hiking was rather tough. I forgot how difficult it is to hike on snow, even packed snow gives way quite a bit.
It seems as though any road at 4000' or higher may still have snow on it, especially on shaded or south facing areas. I can't believe it is the middle of June.....
I can well imagine that there is lots of water up there in the meadows. I foolishly went out on Wednesday to try to do some hiking, but between the snow falling in the morning and the rain the rest of the day, I ended up doing more driving than walking. But I did find that the 4635 road up to the Cache Meadow trailhead, Trail X, and the Rimrock Trail is free of snow, up around 4400 feet. I'm not sure you can say that for the trails, though. And if they are free of snow, I'll bet that they are not free of ponded water in lots of places.
I also drove up to High Rock and found no snow on the road until I passed the quarry and the road changed direction. From that point there was 1-2 feet of snow on the road. That was also up at elevation 4400 or so. I checked out the Anvil Lake trailhead, and it was flooded a short distance in. So still lots of standing water around.
And I was up at Graham Pass above the Collawash last week, also at about 4400 feet, and found no snow. On the road up Rhododendron Ridge I ran into snow on the road near the hunter's camp where the Rho Creek trail comes out, and that's about 4600 feet according to my map.
So it's melting, and the higher elevations are becoming accessible, but it depends on the orientation of the road and how much sunlight it gets.
And besides, walking in snow really is fun, isn't it? Especially when it's snow laying on wet, boggy ground like Cottonwood Meadows. But you didn't mention having any problem with the bugs up there. Isn't that what you were hoping for?
Just giving you a bad time....
Summer does officially start on Monday, right? You could have fooled me…..
I'm just amazed at how much snow is still out there, and how cold and wet it still is…
And yes, there were no bugs to speak of. Just some flies and something on the ground in the meadows, but they weren't annoying. It was actually a nice day, weather wise. I was just hoping for more color, but this year it seems it will be a little later.
Rob, did you encounter this on the North trailhead (near Rimrock TH on 5830) or the other one? I'm guessin 5830. Did you happen to see if Hideway Lake Campground is open yet?
Doug, was it possible to drive into the High Rock campground?
Thanks guys this is great info and just what I was looking for. I can't BELIEVE there is still so much snow at 4200'………it's almost July! I figured Cottonwood etc. would be marshy but totally snow free. What a shock!
This will obviously change my camping plans for next week.
It's going to be a buggy short summer in some places this season.
FWIW on the Eastside the snow is all but gone.
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