Kautz Creek (Dec 10, 2011)

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kautz_creek_coverConditions: Snowshoe
Gear: snowshoes
Map: USGS Mt Rainier West
Area: Mount Rainier NP (Paradise)
Reference: 50 Hikes in Mount Rainier National Park
Stats: 9.25mi, 2670' gain (round trip)


My first trip up Kautz Creek...well kinda. I'd poked around the lower stretches of the trail before but never any further than the creek crossing. This time we hoped to make it all the way up to Kautz. It would be a bit of a stretch since it was just the two of us but...we'd see how far we could make it.

When we left the parking area by the TH it was cold....very cold. The parking lot and road were white with frost. Right from the road there are good views of the mountain...then she hides not to appear again until the creek crossing and then she disappears for quite some time....

The trail starts out flat. It's clear to see the destruction from somewhat recent flood events. The trail, which follows the creek pretty closely, it gone in some places. After  while we put microspikes on because the trail was so darned slick. When we reached the creek crossing I know I spent quite some time taking photos of the hoar frost crystals growing on everything, rock, trail, trees... I'd never seen frost quite so thick or beautiful.

After the creek crossing the trail starts to head up. Slowly at first then steeper higher up. The trail though is in decent shape and we were still carrying our snowshoes. Down lower the trail was nearly snow free higher up the snow was patchy but it was pretty easy to follow the trail. Part way up the snow was thin and rotten. Easy enough to detour around.

We finally reach the first "viewpoint" at about 5100'. From there the route drops down a bit and enters a more open area. From here the summer trail does a slow rising traverse to below the east side of Mt Ararat and then drops down to Indian Henry's Hunting Ground.

With only the two of us breaking trail progress was slow. We weren't going to make it to Ararat. But...we wanted to wander a bit further to a better viewpoint. At about 4.5mi from the car we found what looked like a nice turn around point. High enough to get great views of the mountain. We were in the warmer sun. Nice flattish area to stop.

Clouds started moving in during lunch and on the hike out got thicker. By the time we got back to the road/car, there were no more views of the mountain. We never did end up putting the snowshoes on...
 
Kautz Creek Slideshow

kautz_creek_map
(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright 2013 Janet M. Putz
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