William O. Douglas Wilderness
|JANUARY 28 - 30, 2011 Although a light
snow/rain/drizzle mix fell throughout the weekend, the weather was mild
for this Mountaineers snowshoe/backpack trip into the William O. Douglas
Wilderness. I spent much of 2010 hiking in the William O.
Douglas Wilderness between White Pass and Chinook Pass, so when I saw
this trip offered on the Mountaineers website, I was eager to join.
Our group of 5 started hiking along the road east from White Pass
to a closed road near Dog Lake, then headed into the woods on a
north-northeast course. The forest is open and fragrant, and in
one clearing a striking evergreen stood apart from the
others--lacking only shiny ornaments and star on top, it would have been
a perfect Christmas tree. There was no bridge over the north
fork of Clear Creek, so we crossed in an area where the creek was
shallow and narrow. Despite the relative tameness of the
creek in this spot, I still managed to step in the cold water and get my
feet wet and a snowshoe caught in the branches of a fallen tree. A
steep climb took us to a small plateau about 200' below Cramer Lake,
where we set up camp. Night still comes early at this time
of the year, and I slept soundly without the noise and lights of the
city. The following day we hiked up to Cramer Lake and beyond.
The woods were pretty but the weather was not, and I bailed just short
of reaching Dumbbell Lake and retreated to Cramer Lake for a pleasant
We hiked a slightly different route on our return trip on Sunday, and although the crossing of Clear Creek seemed more difficult at first glance, one of our group found a perfect place to cross safely--and dryly. The snow varied from soft powder that was perfect to plunge step downhill to crusty snow that caused us to posthole. We found the trail easily and the end of our hike was anti-climatic--it seemed that all of a sudden we were at the trailhead. We saw very few signs of wildlife on this trip--a few rabbit tracks, a gray jay, a spider, and the sound of a woodpecker in the distance.