Part II of Frog Lake Bushwhack
Determined to find the trail this time
In February, I went skishoeing after a huge dump of beautiful deep powder. I had wanted to find and scout out a trail that is not marked for winter use, but that would make a good loop from Frog Lake to the Twin Lakes and then back on the well used and well marked Twin Lakes Trail #495, as it merges with the PCT #2000.
On that first trip, I wasn’t able to find any trace of the trail I was looking for.
Tracks from the earlier trip, before leaving the Frog Lake Buttes road
What a day!
Had a great time anyway, but determined to go back better equipped to find that trail.
Beginning at Frog Lake snopark, I skied up Frog Lake Buttes Road 1 mile eastward. It was a beautiful day. There was a great view of Mt. Jefferson to the south.
Varying snow conditions
The day before, the temperature had gotten above freezing, and then dropped down again at night, forming a thin, crumbly ice crust. But the crust wasn’t thick enough to make it difficult going. Also, the 4’ of fresh snow in February had settled and firmed up a bit, making it easier to break trail.
Better prepared this time
I still found no trail signs, but this time I had a better topo map, had learned how to brighten the screen on my Moto-Z Android, a battery ‘brick’ for recharging my Android, fresh batteries in my Nikon camera, enough snack food for lunch and even supper and breakfast if necessary, and a space blanket in case of getting caught out overnight. I was determined to find that trail.
Criss-crossing the invisible trail
According to the trail maps, the total loop is only about 4.5 miles, but my ViewRanger app tracked me at 7.05 miles. The reason is because I was constantly making zigzag tracks while bushwhacking. With no sign of the trail, I was continually going a little too high or low and then having to check the GPS and then correct. It’s amazing how quickly I could get a little off track.
Reaching the pass
The pass was obvious, having quite a steep drop off to the north. All I had to do was find where the trail headed down. While traversing back and forth in the area of the pass, I finally came onto a trail junction sign. Eureka!
That’s where I started down the north slope.
North slope powder
There was a big difference in the snow on the north-facing slope. Where it was mostly in day long shade, it hadn’t melted and refrozen, so the powder was still deep and light and fluffy. In places I sank in up to my knees, even with the skishoes on. The trail had to traverse a steep sidehill when first leaving the pass.
Through an opening in the trees, I got a glimpse of Mt.Hood in all her glory.
After dropping down quite a bit, the sidehill was not so steep, and the skiing was easier. In some areas that were a little closer to level, the sun had reached through, and melted and packed the snow to some extent.
I wandered a little above and a little to the west of the trail and came upon a beautiful open slope.
Finally found some trail markers
Checking the map, I could see the open area, and that’s how I knew I was above the trail. I’d rather be a little on the high side, because it’s always easy to glide back down. Doing just that, I finally saw a trail sign. It was a red paint slash. Not too much farther, I saw what looked like a very old blaze mark. And farther yet, I saw a piece of red flagging. Apparently I was doing a better job of staying on course.
The really fun part
The downhill part of this trip through the woods, about 1.4 miles if you take out my zigs and zags, was so much fun it’s hard to put it into words. I love my Altai Skis. They’re perfect for maneuvering in tight spots, because they’re only 4’ long. Yet, with the partial covering of climbing skins on the bottom, they’re perfect for climbing uphill too.
Eventually I saw the frozen Lower Twin Lake through the trees. It was a clear, sunny, warm day, so I skied across to the north shore in order to sit in the sun and have lunch and a rest.
I hit the lake only about 30 yards from the official trail sign, so I wasn't far off. I don't know why the sign calls it trail 484 when my maps call it 530.
I could have taken trail #495 back from there to complete the loop, but I noticed a ‘shortcut’ to the saddle where I could intercept #495 after crossing the lake to the southwest shore and bushwhacking up towards the saddle. Why follow a trail when you can bushwhack, which is much more challenging?
Looking back at my tracks after crossing lake, before starting to bushwhack up to saddle
Always good to see a blue diamond
Of course, I was only kidding myself. This was no shortcut. In order to climb the steep slope up to the saddle, I had to keep angling back and forth across the slope, making it a lot farther than first appearance.
But eventually, I spotted a blue diamond, marking trail #495 for cross country skiers and snowshoers, and after a little more effort, I was up on the popular, well packed trail.
Up a little farther, I crossed the pass and from there it was an easy downhill glide down to the intersection with the PCT trail #2000, and then about a mile back down to the snopark.
View Ranger stats
8:03AM - 2:02 PM
Total ascent 2175'
Total descent 2194'
Watch the youtube video of this trip HERE
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