Ross Lake 50 Mile Canoe Trip Trek Journal
July 7-13, 2010
Scouts Adults .
Derek H Mike Mohrman
Vic C Mitch Berndt
Day 1, July 7: Olympia to Diablo Lake, Colonial Creek
Day 2, July 8: Colonial Creek to Ross Dam to Cougar Island Camp
Day 2, July 9: Cougar Island Camp to Cat Island Camp
Day 4, July 10: Cat Island Camp to Silver Springs Camp
Day 5, July 11: Silver Springs Camp to Dry Creek Camp
Day 6, July 12: Stay at Dry Creek
Day 7, July 13: Dry Creek Camp to Ross Dam to Colonial Creek
Day 1, July 7
Met at the Old Fire Station at 7:30am, left about 810am. Stretch break at the exit 208 rest stop and headed on to Marblemount via Arlington. Got to the Wilderness Information Center about 1150am and made our campsite reservations (got all the camps we’d planned on!). Drove on to Colonial Creek Campground on the Thunder Arm of Diablo Lake by 2pm. Set up camp, ate lunch and took a short paddle up Thunder Creek to explore; went about 1 mile. Scouts couldn’t wait to fish, but no luck. Dinner, then Scouts out fishing again. Eric caught a rainbow and during the ordeal, Derek’s rod & reel was bumped and went overboard…gone. Campfire and in bed by 9:30pm.
Day 2, July 8
Woke up at 5:30am, breakfast and pack-up. Parked the trucks and walked back to the campsite to launch. On the water at about 7:20am. On our way out of the Thunder Arm and up Diablo Lake towards Ross Dam, Vic caught a trout. Only 3.5 miles to the dam, made it by 850am. Truck portaged up to Ross Lake. Had to unload and carry our gear 100 yards up the hill to load them on the truck. No way to do a portage here on foot, just too far.
On Ross Lake at 1115am, then a short 2.2 mile paddle to Cougar Island, made it by 1220pm. No wind to speak of and clear blue skies. Hot weather and water temps 50-60 deg F. At Cougar Island we have both campsites; the whole island to ourselves. Jumped off the dock when we got there. Also found a “jumping rock” on the island to add to the fun. The tiny island next door is now “Mitch Island”. Paddled across the lake to a creek and pumped water for drinking and cooking. Also fished…lost one.
After dinner, Mike saw something out in the lake, seemed big, dark and making a wake, but couldn’t tell what it was. We rallied the Scouts and went to investigate in canoes. Turned out to be a black bear swimming across the lake (half a mile or so). Didn’t get too close, but got to see him climb out on shore and disappear.
Swam a lot and swamped canoes. Vic lost a water shoe in water about 15 feet deep climbing into a canoe. Later, Vic’s reel was snarled, so he asked Mike to borrow his pole to fish out his shoe. Of course Mike advised “Don’t drop it overboard”. Famous last words. Two days…two poles. Not looking good, didn’t get the shoe either. Dinner and in bed by 9:45pm.
Day 3, July 9
Up at 5:30am; cook, clean and pack up. On the water by 8am, meanwhile Mitch snagged Vic’s water shoe with his fishing pole. The lost pole couldn’t be found.
Paddled about 2 hours and took a stretch break. Crossed the lake and had lunch near Skymo Creek (falls) at about 7 miles. Mitch caught a 14” Rainbow and had other hits. Went on around the corner to Cat Island. As we approached the island, it was camouflaged against the hills and we couldn’t really tell where to go. Finally, about 2pm, landfall, only to find that our site was at the top of a hill…lug the gear up. Took a side trip to Lightning Creek, 1.5 miles away. Neat canyon into an icy cascading creek. Pumped 7 gallons of water. Everyone is tired but still have some energy and all in good humor. Hot and clear, great swimming weather. Some wind kicked up around 3pm. Goats had trout for dinner. One doe on the island, hardly spooks at all. Bed by 950pm.
Day 4, July 10
Up at 5:30pm again and on the water at 8am. Cloudy morning, light wind, but opened up clear once we were paddling. Trolled and caught a couple fish (released). Hammered Silver spoon seems to be the fish favorite. Stretch break at Little Beaver and made Silver Creek about 1150am, 7 miles. Set up and eat lunch; have the whole camp to ourselves (2 sites).
After lunch, Mike, Derek, Carson & Mitch took a canoe & Kayak over to Canadian waters, 5 miles round trip, had to fight the wind back to camp. Then broke out the soap and everyone took a bath! Really!
Next, a side trip to Silver Creek, just around the corner. Icy cold and beautiful; pumped another 7 gallons. Fishing at the creek mouth, lots of hits but nothing hooked.
Very tired. Some mosquitoes, but not bad. Only one or two hornets. Scouts had a farting contest and the Champion arose…Carson bested Vic in the finals, 11-7. Who knew? Bed by 9pm.
Day 5, Jul 11
Up at 5:30am, beautiful morning. Tried for a quick breakfast, ‘cause this will be our biggest day. Headin’ towards home and on the water by 7:20am. Made 10.4 miles and the wind kicked up hard about 1pm. 12-18” waves and whitecaps. Rounded the last corner into the wind and took shelter. Turned out to be Dry Creek camp! Unloaded gear, intending to spend the night. Mid afternoon a group from North Cascade Institute showed up and took the group site, but we used 2 tent sites off to the side.
Earlier in the day we saw an Osprey dive and grab a trout. Only to be attached by a Bald Eagle coming from across the lake. Osprey dropped the trout which was retrieved by the Eagle. What a show. Had stopped earlier at the Desolation Peak boat dock to stretch and met a Ranger who checked our permit and fishing licenses. Mike showed his license instead of explaining to the Ranger that his family no longer had any fishing poles!
At camp, the Scouts are playing “Bear Box”. Something about seeing how many people can get into a bear box and close the door, and stay there the longest. Interesting. Would seem more challenging to play “Kybo”. Windy all afternoon and evening. Mike & Mitch set up their stove in the bear box as a wind break.
Day 6, July 12
Mike & Mitch up at 6:15am; breakfast and coffee. Still quite windy, maybe even getting worse. Woke Scouts at 8am. Talked to Megan, the leader of the NCI group and listened to the weather report with her at 9am. Predicted to be windy with showers, pretty accurate except that instead of 10-15 mph wind, I think we got 20-30mph. NCI group left for Cat Island about 9:30am, at least they’re heading down wind. Megan said she’d talk to the Rangers for us and let them know where we were.
A Scout Troop from Federal way arrived around noon, 7 boats with 12 people. Pretty dicy out on the water, even going down wind.
Our Scouts played Hearts in the big tent most of the afternoon. Mitch & Mike walked around the lagoon behind Dry Creek camp. Lots of driftwood packed up in the lagoon. Saw a doe with 2 spotted fawns; she later wandered into our camp.
Weather calmed at dinner time, but picked up again so it’s good that we didn’t try to move. After dinner we visited the other troop and they treated us to stories and ‘smores. We gave them patches.
Bed by 945pm.
Day 7, July 13
Up at 5am, light sprinkles but calm. Eat, cleanup and pack and on the water by 6:40am. Our initial pace was 3 mph for a couple hours. Stretch break after 2 hours and then back to the paddles. The clouds broke up but the wind picked up too, around 9am. Not at rough as past days, but blowing right in our face. Made Ross Dam about 11am, 9.6 miles. Portaged up and over and back on the water by about 1150am (another $60 well spent).
Very windy on Diablo Lake too, again, right in our face. Fought the wind all the way up to the Thunder Arm, then finally it was at our backs. Mitch & Derek put up a Garbage bag on 2 paddles and sailed most of the way to the ramp. Made the ramp about 2:15pm.
Unloaded gear, washed boats and changed clothes. On to Darrington and the Glacier Peak Café for an early dinner around 4pm. Everyone had Logger Burgers except Eric who went for a salad and fries. Back to the OFS about 8pm, glad it wasn’t midnight. All’s well, definitely ready for a soft bed and sleeping past 6am! All told we made 60 miles by boat.