William O. Douglas Wilderness

Cramer Lake


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 lunch break. 

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.