July 15-28, 2019
We’re in the dog days of summer now. With triple digit temperatures making routine appearances at home and with snow finally melting off in the high country, there’s no better time to hit the trail in the Pacific Northwest. In between hiking and backpacking trips, we’ve been busy preparing for our upcoming seven month RV trip. I have long lists of things to do and pack while Jason’s been working his way through first year RV maintenance tasks and learning how to manually operate all of our fancy automatic systems for the eventuality that they will fail on the road (slides, power awning, power steps, leveling jacks, etc.). There is much to be done before our departure and I have my work hours that I need to maintain, but this time of year its all about life on the trail.
Ice Lake Backpack
We were thrilled to finally make the backpack into Ice Lake in Oregon’s Eagle Cap Wilderness. If you haven’t already done so, check out our blog post for that trip. The lake was one of the more scenic destinations we’ve been to.
Turkey Creek Hike
This past week was extra hours at work, chores, and projects before heading into three weeks of back to back backpacks (that’s a lot of backs!). We did manage to get out for a quick day hike along Turkey Creek in SE Washington’s Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness. We had done this hike one other time and knew the temperatures would be tolerable on a day when it would be near 100 at home.
We started our hike at the Panjab Trailhead a few miles past Camp Wooten State Park along the Tucannon River. The Tucannon is known for trout fishing in its many man-made lakes as well as its abundant free camping. The area has experienced several wildfires over the past decade, but is still a popular destination in the spring and early summer while things are still green.
By late July, the Tucannon is hot and dry although there are some really great shaded spots where you can beat the heat. We saw just a few anglers and campers as we made our way to the trailhead. The trail immediately crosses Panjab Creek on a sturdy footbridge then climbs gently through a forest of Douglas fir and Ponderosa pine. At 1.3 miles, the trail splits with Panjab continuing straight ahead and Turkey Creek beginning its course to the right. We made two small creek crossings in short succession and then continued our way up the wooded canyon. Once on Turkey Creek, the trail has a fair amount of shade, but not nearly as much as I remembered from years ago. If you are up for a 11.5 mile round trip hike, Turkey will take you all the way to the Teepee Trailhead which is the starting point for hikes to Oregon Butte and Misery Springs. We did the full trip back in 2013, but this time we did a leisurely 6 miles—enough for some exercise, but not enough to tire our feet and joints before our upcoming four day backpack into Idaho’s Seven Devils.
The highlight of our day was finding our first huckleberries of the year. Typical of this area, they were small but flavorful. Their discovery slowed our progress as we grazed our way up the trail. Jason also discovered several ripe thimble berries—not a favorite of mine (too seedy), but a treat he enjoys.
To reach the Panjab Trailhead find your way to Camp Wooten State Park from Pomeroy or Dayton, Washington using your GPS or favorite navigation website. There are numerous ways to reach Wooten with the best route being dependent on your like (or dislike) of gravel grades. We chose to come in via the Tucannon Road off US-12 and return via Blind Grade and Tatman Mountain Road. In the miles leading up to Wooten, you will pass numerous fishing lakes and Washington Fish and Game campgrounds (free with Washington’s Discover Pass). At the turn off for Camp Wooten, continue straight on FR-47 which soon turns to well-graded gravel. After a couple miles the road splits, take FR-4713 to the right following signs for Panjab Trailhead which will be a few more miles down the road (see map below). A Northwest Forest Pass or America the Beautiful Pass is required to park at the trailhead otherwise it is a $5 day use fee (envelopes and drop box available).