Pleasant Valley Loop & Goat Peak Hike

After work Friday, I drove up toward Chinook Pass for a hike. The hike up to Goat Peak is beautiful and terrible. It’s steep – about 3000′ of elevation gain in three miles – and the trail is not in great shape in some places. (This is largely due to the fire.) It’d be a good training hike — it’s just under nine miles, so it could be done as a day hike and it has a lot of elevation gain & loss — but the trail is in such bad shape in places I’m not sure I want to do it again anytime soon.

It’s about an hour drive from the office, and with sunset shortly before eight I figured I could get in a few miles that evening. This area burned in 2017, and while it’s recovering burned areas tend to have a lot of dead trees. That can complicate finding a campsite. I found a decent-enough campsite about a half-hour before sunset. The hike to my camp area is mostly flat. A short distance after this spot, the trail starts to climb. About 2/3 of a mile past my camp, there’s a short side trail to Pleasant Valley Lake. It’s not much more than a pond now, but there are a few campsites in the area. According to one trip report, this lake used to be stocked with trout, and there are a few remaining.

Pleasant Valley Lake

Back to climbing! Because of the fire, every year brings new blow-downs. I encountered several that I imagine make the trail impassible to stock; that’s probably why I stopped seeing signs horses had been through the area.

I thought this was a feather. (The other side is mostly white.) Then I picked it up. It’s fur. Someone lost a tail! 🐿️

The weather was perfect for this hike. It was cool, there was an occasional breeze and the visibility was excellent. I don’t think I could do this hike in the rain. In many places, the trail is loose ashy/dusty dirt. In some places, that’s covered with pine needles. It’s slippery on a dry day.

Tahoma

I finally made it to the top. There was a fire lookout up here from 1933-1968. In addition to the USFS survey marker, I found a metal eye bolt secured in one of the rocks. There’s the base to a lightning rod nearby. There were also some nails. One the way down, I passed two attachments to trees about 10-12′ above ground which could have held communication wires.

And now the descent begins… the trail is steep near the summit, and practically a scramble. In many places, the tread is the same loose ashy/dusty soil. The first time I fell, my right foot slid off the edge of the trail. The second time, my feet slipped out from underneath me. I fell backwards, twisting my right leg – the one with the *good* knee. Several times on the way down, my right foot slipped, further aggravating my already-mad ankle.

I made it back to the trailhead. I’d planned to take some ibuprofen when I returned to my truck, but things felt okay at that point so I didn’t. My ankle & knee stiffened up a bit on the drive home, but I was still able to walk. I took some ibuprofen and took a much-needed shower. Apparently standing on one foot to scrub the other foot was too much because when I got out of the shower I could barely put weight on my right leg & I was whimpering in pain. It took several hours and a potentially toxic dose of ibuprofen to bring the pain under control This morning, the ankle is stiff but feeling much better. The knee is swollen but only gripes as it approaches a 90-degree bend. I’m going to need a few days to evaluate how much damage I’ve done, but I’m hopeful it’s nothing long-term.

Bottom line — great views, lots of climbing, treacherous trail. Three stars on Yelp!, still undecided if I’d come back.

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