Identifying geography based on map
Feb 5, 2020 at 2:40 pm #3630017
Can’t say we would ever follow Commonwealth Ck up like that if it was in Oz. The scrub in the gullies would be … America might be different.
V1: go to the top end of the ‘Ski Lifts’ line (which will be open) and follow the spur up to Guye Pk, then follow the ridge through the saddle to the top of Cave Ridge. You could also start this from the road roundabout just N of the Ski Lifts.
V2: Go up the roads N of the Ski Lifts, take the 2nd left fork to the end near the ’33’, then work your way up the open ground to Guye Pk. This assumes the open ground is open and is not one vast talus slope – although the latter may not be all that bad with good runners on.
V3: From the Commonwealth Camp Ground take the black dotted track up the valley to the creek crossing level with the words ‘Stop at’, then go W until on the crest of the obvious spur, then follow that up parallel to the gully until on top of Cave Ridge. There might be some scrub on this route.
CheersFeb 5, 2020 at 2:55 pm #3630019
With regards to McGree springs, you obviously cannot approach from the north; it’s way too cliffy. I assume you can’t just walk along the river.
As such, the only route is to ascend to Breakneck Ridge. You ascend to the saddle between the two prominences, then pass Breakneck Ridge to another prominence. Once you’re there, I’m not entirely sure how / where to descend.
From that prominence, I really wouldn’t want to descend directly into the Right Fork. It looks narrow and brushy. I probably would want to target the South Fork and backtrack.
I would consider trying to descend between the two gullies, probably by taking a bearing. If I overshot too westward, I still would end up between two different gullies and could make it down. I hope this would be obvious as I ended up in a much broader flat area than planned with the river pointing northward.
If I overshoot too eastward, it would be trickier. My proposed target is just ~1000 ft to cover and 400 feet to descend, but it does strike me as an easy way to screw up. Any ideas on how not to do it would be helpful.
Eventually, the two target gullies would turn westward, and I would end up along the South Fork. I would probably aim to overshoot to the South Fork since it should be obvious and a bit easier to backtrack.Feb 5, 2020 at 4:06 pm #3630025
As Adam suggests: take the ridgeline until it is time to turn N, then descend as shown until the red line turns W. However, rather than going a long way W, just go a short way until there is a spur to the N. The drop-off onto that spur would need some careful checking. The spur leads direct to the junction.
Going down a spur is always more difficult than going up. You need to monitor your distances and check an altimeter. You would need to ‘zero’ or reference the altimeter at the top of the ridge before you descend.
We have found that descending a difficult spur is made easier if you aggressively keep heading for the highest part on the way down. That is, if there is any suggestion you are on the side of the spur, correct immediately.
CheersFeb 5, 2020 at 5:38 pm #3630029
“Aggressively keep heading for the highest part on the way down?” We call that going up in the Northern Hemisphere :-P
But seriously, what does that mean? Are you talking about a way to avoid situations like this? If so, how would you recognize this quickly without looking at your compass quite a bit?Feb 5, 2020 at 7:05 pm #3630039
The route I drew in red and the old now hard to find if it’s even still there trail in black dashed lines.
This image is from the 7.5′ scanned layer in Caltopo. That older version shows lots of old no longer maintained or mapped trails. If you compare it closely with the mapbuilder layer there are some differences in the contours. I trust there’s some good reason the old trail took the route shown. Folding over the big NW trending spur ridge to make the final descent to the junction on a north descending mini side spur looked like the most gradual route to me. The drop is 1200 feet in @ .6 mile. Pretty steep!Feb 5, 2020 at 7:26 pm #3630044
“Aggressively keep heading for the highest part on the way down?”
Imagine that you are trying to go down a spur, but find that you are on the side of it. This can happen if you take the wrong fork for instance, and the false spur expires. Keep heading in roughly the same direction and still downwards, but traverse as you go back onto the crest of the main spur. You do NOT go uphill in altitude.
how would you recognize this quickly without looking at your compass quite a bit?
Um – the blue line? I take it this is just an example, as it is going in the opposite direction to the previous discussion. I have to say it would be bleedingly obvious that the blue route was wrong. Get 100 m down it and there is no spur and you are swinging to the north instead of going ENE.
But to the point: in tricky country we (my wife Sue and I) travel with a compass in hand, and we keep looking at it, while referencing back to the topo map as well. Sometimes both of us will be watching a compass in hand. We USE our compasses and the terrain.
In one case, in really bad weather when we were following a ridge in thick scrub, Sue was in front trying to held the watershed while I was behind her with map in one hand and compass in the other. She worked her way through the scrub, making it a bit easier for me to follow, while I kept calling out ‘left’ and ‘right’ as needed to hold the overall course we wanted. We were not using my altimeter at that stage because it was a fairly level ridge after all.
If you are going down a spur and you suddenly find yourself looking down a headwall, then you know where you are on the topo and can make the correction: a turn onto the spur as it bends in a new direction. There have been times when we have relied on hitting a headwall on a fixed bearing to tell us when to turn. A distance as short as 50 m can be really obvious here.
Less obvious, but very important, is that you need to be able to look at a topo map and quickly convert it into a 3D landform in your head. This may take some practice of course. So – practice!
CheersFeb 5, 2020 at 7:48 pm #3630046
Going N down from ‘Track to Big Pool’, I think we would stick on the crest of the spur just to the E of the red line.
You see, (at least here in Oz), the sides of spurs can be more unstable sloping footing and they have worse scrub (more waterflow), while the crest is drier (less scrub) and usually a bit more stable.
CheersFeb 5, 2020 at 8:17 pm #3630049
Roger any tips about counting out distance? I practice it all the time but it is still hit/miss and I end up short or long by @ 10% to 15%. Maybe that’s close enough.
I thought your advice on the aiming at the highest point down the spur or ridge would have the effect that one would keep the line of the most gradual descent if you aimed at the highest point down the ridge; plus avoid drifting off the side of the ridge or spur.
Adam your example up there at Snoqualmie is a tough one. I’d me most tempted to follow Roger’s line and avoid the thickets by working up the SE side of the ridge. There is a nice clear line that appears to be a 2 track going up to @ 3600 from the top of the lifts. The next 1000 feet would be pretty steep but at least you wouldn’t be fighting blow-downs and thickets and brush. Your route is the most gradual ascent but the brush might really be trouble plus what are the streams like? Looking at it on google Earth BTW there is a use trail on the ridge and through the saddle that goes up to Cave Ridge. The things you can see from space!Feb 5, 2020 at 11:12 pm #3630064
It’s really funny and elucidating to see people’s Guye Peak approach. I’ve done the route that I posted. The streams are usually a rock hop or maybe a log walk across and are very doable. It is a bit brushy but not too badly and enough to give you a nice veggie belay. Overall, I’d say it’s class 3 at worst with no exposure. In contrast, the south route is quite a bit more technical and may even require protection.Feb 5, 2020 at 11:51 pm #3630067
any tips about counting out distance? I practice it all the time but it is still hit/miss and I end up short or long by @ 10% to 15%.
Eh, 10 – 15% is not bad. We improve on that by monitoring the terrain and altitude as we go. Admission: I/we always think we have gone further than we have, but we know that.
As for scrub in the gullies – for sure your terrain may be different from my terrain. Your photos (nice) certainly make it look rather different from our country. We like ridges over gullies, but we have seen some bad ridges. Particularly bad here in Oz is what we call ‘sub-alpine scrub’ – rampant growth from the snow melt above.
CheersFeb 6, 2020 at 4:11 am #3630082Erica RBPL Member
It is easier going up the right (north) side of the gully. The contour lines are further apart.Feb 7, 2020 at 11:32 am #3630242
Well Adam might I suggest that knowing (now) you’ve had boots on the ground and experience with your hypothetical problem one might be again wonder what you are trying to determine? BTW I have not been nearer than @ 4 miles from Breakneck Ridge or 3 Forks but I do understand that terrain and so can make somewhat informed guesses about how the terrain and ground cover might affect the route.
As Erica points out the most gradual grade is between the 2 blue line streams or I guess in this case streamlets. That’s probably why the thick stands of firs are there.
As I understand it one picks out a target where one needs to arrive. Then the leg or legs is chosen based on the more direct or the least troublesome way to reach that target. Lets say its the most efficient way to reach that point.
This is fine in good visibility when the target is in sight but lacking good visibility every time one zigs or zags the angle is going to change. I’m not sure how that works out perfectly with a compass. I guess one technique is to keep the legs short. I’ve also tried picking out an object as far away as I can see that’s directly on the line; like a distinctive tree or rock, and then zigging and zagging as necessary until I reach that and repeat. This usually works ok if the legs aren’t too long, and is the part of the problem where a pre way-pointed gps comes in really handy. I’m curious to see how people who rely strictly on compass solve this one. Curious enough that I’ve picked up the Brotherton book as well.
As pointed out upthread often times the ground cover or other facts on the ground, can change the calculation of most efficient route.
Here’s another rule: A lot of terrain, obstacles and trouble can completely hide between 40′ contour lines.
This is the route to your goal I would pick based strictly on what I perceive to be most efficient. The first part follows the existing trail to the crossing point and is drawn straight by necessity. On the ground you found the south side of the first blue stream line to be the best route to ascend to the saddle and little wonder if the brush and what appears to be talus of some sort weren’t a big problem. Further along with the black leg and the ziggy red final leg I’m following the 4800 contour as long as possible. Anywhere along that black leg the most efficient route bending or curving to the east to cross the 5000 contour and get to the flatter part above 5120 should become apparent.
Below is an example of a route with no trails I followed just this September and so have recent experience with the conditions on the ground. The co-ordinates for the rough center of the image so you can zoom in more closely are: 43.1049, -109.5283
How would you get from the bottom right lake outlet to the top lake outlet?Feb 7, 2020 at 11:50 am #3630244
OK that’s some code bs. I edited the entire message and the unedited version got posted and now I can’t edit that. sheesh.Feb 7, 2020 at 2:33 pm #3630268
How would you get from the bottom right lake outlet to the top lake outlet?
Does rather depend on the scrub, doesn’t it?
If it is open alpine, lazy me would follow the N shore of the lakes to the little pass, and then wander NNE.
But if there is lots of valley scrub – ah well. In that case, N to the ridge, NW and then NE along the ridge until near target, then drop NW.
But lacking any knowledge of the terrain and scrub …
CheersFeb 7, 2020 at 2:44 pm #3630271
Here’s what I’d do. It seems pretty straightforward to me since it’s above treeline and you can pretty much follow the lakes with well-defined peaks. Unfortunately, where I live, you spend a lot of time under treeline and there are rarely chains of lakes to follow.Feb 9, 2020 at 5:20 pm #3630595
Adam the route you picked out crosses a three-part pass called Bloody Hell Pass. The part of the route marked in green is through pretty much continuous talus ranging from house sized right down to busses, trucks, automobiles and your every day home appliances like refrigerators, stoves, washer-dryers and so forth. All this stuff rests, somewhat precariously, on solid stone shelves with varying degrees of slope. The three steep parts are marked 1,2 and 3. Three is the main pass with the greatest elevation change (@800 feet). I’ve not been over it but viewed it from between the 2 lakes on the north side of the pass. It looked pretty dicey, but may be the preferred route in sketchy weather or visibility, over the other route which I’ll come to soon, and which has it’s own set of issues.
This route and I think the spot I’ve marked with an X was the scene of this fatal misadventure: Mike Turner story
I’m pretty sure it was named way before that occurred. It is recommended (by Pallister at least) you do not take that route solo.
BTW the relatively flat part down by the southern lake is really pretty but has it’s own set of navigational problems. I’m not sure about the geological processes involved but the Wind River Range seems to have an especial abundance of features that I call mini monadnocks. They are ripples and bumps of rock that just seem to sort of bubble up all around in terrain that is otherwise basically of rather uniform elevation. A 38 foot mini ridge with a 38% slope can be completely invisible on a 7.5′ map or a 78 foot mini knob or ridge with a 40% slope or worse can show up as a relatively gentle looking irregular oblong contour. Add trees and willow thickets and staying on course can be pretty tricky!Feb 9, 2020 at 6:50 pm #3630609Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
A rather important point to keep in mind – sometimes the map alone simply doesn’t give you enough information to make a safe route selection. Especially these US maps, which are pretty light on detail compared to the mapping in places like the UK and Switzerland.
So you may have to research more widely. Typical sources would include Google image search, Google earth, guidebooks and local experts such as rangers, guides and hut custodians.Feb 9, 2020 at 6:58 pm #3630610Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
PS – Just as an example, here’s a sample of a UK OS map of the Lake District.
Note the clear marking of deciduous and coniferous tree cover, crags, scree (talus), trails, bridges etc.
With a map like this, and knowing the general characteristics of the area, it’s possible to plan a route in summer or winter conditions with reasonable confidence.
With a map like the lake route you posted above, there’s a lot more guesswork involved unless you use supplementary sources of information.Feb 9, 2020 at 7:06 pm #3630613
Looking at the satellite, it becomes very clear that the route is tons of talus and very hard to pass. That’s not particularly obvious from the topo map. Based on the topography and satellite, I think backtracking may be a better idea. It would be involve quite a large amount of altitude and the route down to the lake (which I’ve only approximated) would be quite cliffy, but there may be a route down that is reasonable. I’ve descended some insanely steep areas before reasonably safely through careful route selection.Feb 9, 2020 at 7:44 pm #3630621
“sources would include Google image search, Google earth, guidebooks and local experts such as rangers, guides and hut custodians.”
The image below is the route I took after following the advice above and studying Google maps/earth and Pallister as someone put it in another post on the Wind River Range “Like a monk”
I did this from north to south and camped at the spot shown so I could get an early start. Because the route up was hard to spot ( 1st ? mark) I scouted it that evening and actually crossed it once before I found it as represented by the green line. If you look at this closely in G maps or earth you can clearly see what appears to be a trail. Turns out it is an enigmatic mystery of sorts. I figured it was a use trail like others you find in the Winds but apparently it is not anything like that and is very seldom used. The “trail” had at some-point in time cairns of various sizes all along the way but many were fallen and because there were so many random upright stones sticking up like bones all over the place and the entire surface of the plateau was covered with rocks it was surprisingly difficult to make out the route but it really made a difference in ease of travel when you were on it so I was trying to follow it like a bloodhound. All the bleached white rocks reminded me of Elijah’s Valley of the Dead Bones. Another surprise was how if you were back from the edge more than about 50 feet you could scarcely see anything but the rocky plateau surface and sky. I imagine being up there in poor visibility would be akin to being in an airplane flying through a cloud.
I reached a great viewpoint at the second question mark and could just barely see the lake that was the target since it was obscured by the slight tilt of that upper valley. It was blowing about 50 or more right along that edge, probably partly due to some sort of venturi effect but enough to just about knock you over.
The maroon line further along represents what I’m now pretty sure is the best way to go up/down the plateau but the more open and obviously gradual route is the one I descended following the blue line. Turned out to be not as simple as it appears because there are waves or a series of terminal moraine mounds along the way down that created these big hanging bogs that had to be skirted and you kept getting funneled into the steeper descent routes.
I had figured that once I began to come down I would simply draw a bead on the lake and walk over but to my surprise and chagrin the lake never came into view! I emphatically did not want to drift left or SE and drop off below 10,600 before the lake so I aimed at the Fortress in the background. All in All it was surprising how tricky it turned out to be following a route way up high with great views but still not really being able to see where you were going.
Because of the trees and mini ridges etc on that table I didn’t actually see the lake until I was about 150 feet away.Feb 9, 2020 at 8:02 pm #3630626
Adam You got it right with that route. Take a close look at the line I drew in Google and you’ll see quite a bit of that mystery trail. I think it was made by the CCC in the 1930’s and intended to be capable of use by pack animal. and if this can be determined it may even be an historical artifact of sorts. I am probably going to do a trip report on it at some point.Feb 9, 2020 at 9:01 pm #3630636
Adam the steepest part of the route you have going down on the north end (up for my trip) is maybe just a little left or west of the actual route. You’ll notice that series of inverted V’s to the east. Whoever built the route sort of worked off that feature and followed available westward or downward arching contour lines or the actual slight slope leveling they represent and also threw in a couple of big cross slope switchbacks. The actual route works out to be rather moderate but the curves in those short switchbacks that are really like S squiggles that are visible on the sat images are also well banked which helps as well. Somebodies moved a lot of rocks at some point in time and I think a tripod hoist was in play! Wonder if any of them are even still alive to tell the tale? If it was 1938 and a guy working on it was 18 then he’d be born in 1920 and be one hundred this year. And how the hell did they get re-supplied? Where was their “base” camp? Camp Lake maybe? It’s a mystery!
Geoff I guess those contour lines are every 10 meters? That would mean that your maps have a fourth contour line spaced just beyond every third in the USGS system. Maybe doesn’t seem like a big deal but it would result in showing quite a bit more detail. Are those black wavy lines the representation of deciduous woodland?Feb 9, 2020 at 9:33 pm #3630641
Looking at the actual route, it looks like it would be fairly straightforward to navigate to that creek and then follow it up. However, finding that gully to ascend seems like it may be tricky. I’ve found that sometimes those features can be subtly buried when you’re in the trees. I can totally see myself walking on the 10,600 contour line and walking right past it. How did you approach that?
Another random question. I went on a trip to a lake with a long abandoned trail. It was a bit bushwhacky but otherwise OK. When I got there, I was surprised to see someone already camping there. I was more surprised to see only one campsite. I scouted out quite a bit around there, and I couldn’t find any remotely flat spot other than that. He was courteous enough to let me camp next to him. When you’re doing trips like this, how do you even know you will find an area to pitch your tent?Feb 9, 2020 at 9:33 pm #3630642
Here it is on the 7.5 contour mapFeb 9, 2020 at 10:16 pm #3630650
That has been a question when hiking in terrain like this but I’ve finally gotten to the point of just not worrying and letting it happen. there’s always a spot somewhere. You start to notice likely spots all along the way throughout the day and from this kind of practice get good at spotting the little terrain features that might harbor a flat spot that isn’t likely to become a water pool in the rain!
It becomes almost like a subconscious game. Find the spot.
One time up in the Cascades we ran out of daylight on an ill considered off trail adventure with it starting to rain in a steep avalanche meadow (everything else was like alder thickets) and found a flattish spot above a rock on the slope where a bear I guess had been grubbing for something. Anyway we finished leveling it out just enough for the tent with our ice axes. Worked out pretty good!. When I stopped to check out the rock I took off my pack and carelessly laid it down so that it flopped over and got going and in no time at all it was bounding down the meadow in like 10-12 foot hops and shot off the end into the brush about six feet from sailing over a ledge. That’s how steep the meadow was. It was that kind of day. Stupid but somehow we just scraped by.
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