A new Columbia River Gorge Scenic Area hike was on the agenda – one that would take us up Nick Eaton Ridge to the last area we’ve yet to explore in the vicinity. Historical note: Nick Eaton was a farmer who lived near Wyeth in the early 1900’s, as far as you know. Though this is a four day hike – requiring a few days off to pull off – I think I’ve come up with a good itinerary:
|1||Benson Camp via Wy’East||10.6|
|3||Casey Creek Camp||11.9|
This “loop” starts and ends at familiar Eagle Creek, and includes new waypoints including the Wy’East trail 434, the Nick Eaton Ridge trails 437 and 437, a reverse traverse of the Herman Creek trail, and a descent back down the PCT to the junction of Ruckel Creek and ultimately the Eagle Creek campground.
Day One: Eagle Creek to Benson Camp, 10.6 miles
We get started with the 6 mile section up Eagle Creek to the first bridge and the Wy’East spur: a 3 mile ascent that bypasses the greater Wahtum Lake area, terminating at Camp Smokey – just under 2 miles from old reliable, Benson Camp.
Day Two: Benson Camp to Ridge Camp, 14.3 miles
This section begins along the PCT, making that long descent to Herman Camp where we join up with Trail 437: the upper Nick Eaton Ridge Trail. Along the way we’ll pass Indian Point, Deadwood Camp, gain a shiteload of elevation (nearly 5000′ this day) concluding at Ridge Camp that sports a nearby water source.
Day Three: Ridge Camp to Casey Creek Camp, 11.9 miles
From here we’ll ascend Green Point Mountain, joining up with the Herman Creek Trail at the intersection of the Nick Eaton, Herman Creek and Pacific Crest Trails – not far from old favorite Magellan waypoint, the Tomlike Mountain trail. From here we’ll descend to Cedar Swamp, pass a half dozen large and small falls, fill up with plenty of water at Hazel Creek and rack at spacious Casey Creek camp. No death-defying trip down trail 407 required!
Day Four: Casey Creek Camp to Eagle Creek, 11.8 miles
We’ll finish out the Herman Creek Trail for about 2.5 miles, and just past Herman Camp we’ll hit the PCT – Trail 2000. It’s just a bunch of switchbacks from here, a long 9 mile descent to the junction of Ruckel Creek trail and the half mile road to Eagle Creek campground.
Footnote: it was tough to find a 3 day version of this hike with logical camps; I will however update this to include a truly gruesome 2 day version that would be a true fastpack battle test!
And…here we go.
Alternately (again) you could go 24.9 on Day 1 to Ridge Camp and have a mere 23.7 miles out…I suppose that would be the proverbial game-time decision. It’s possible…not unlike the Timberline to Eagle Creek 2 day feel we discussed last year…but would be grim. Tempting? But grim!