Back in August, my fourth backpacking trip happened, and it was a great trek. Sadly it's taken me 4 months to get around to sharing it! A few friends from work and I set out to hike into the Goat Rocks Wilderness for a few days via the Lily Basin trail. The first obstacle was getting to the trail head. If you ask Google Maps to tell you how to get there, it will advise you to take forest service road 21 from highway 12 to cut over to forest service road 48 which the trail head is on. This is wrong, and you should just go a little further down the highway directly to forest service road 48. It looked like one of the roads might connect over from 21, but it was blocked with a gate. from the highway, the trail head is a little over 11 miles down the forest road.
For the first 5 miles, the Lily Basin trail follows the top of a ridge slowly increasing in elevation. It is mostly a gentle slope and a good warm up for some of the steeper trails you experience in the interior of Goat Rocks later. After that, the trail cuts over the ridge and into the network of trails that hugs the upper part of various other alpine ridges. From here on, the forest is sparse, and views are grand. It's also time to keep your eyes open close by for marmots, and far uphill for mountain goats. A mile or two later we hit the junction with the Angry Mountain trail, and turning away from it, continued on for a total of about 8 miles to Heart Lake and set up base camp.
In the morning, we set out with intention to reach goat lake and anything beyond it we might be up for. About halfway to Goat Lake though, we ran into an obstacle. We had passed a few fairly small flat snowbanks what were easy to go around or over, but we hit one that was much larger and on a very steep slope. Even before the snowbank, the trail was non-existent due to run-off and erosion leaving a very steep, loose, rocky patch to traverse first. After approaching the snowbank, we had three options: Go over the top of it which led to an even steeper loose rocky area, go over the icy crusted and slippery snowbank risking a slip and slide down into some rocks, or go below it which was the longest route but probably the safest. In the end a couple of us went above and around and me and another went below and around. Much time and energy was spent feeling this out, and we were later to find that there was a bypass trail that we missed a little before this obstacle.
|That doesn't look like a trail.|
After that ordeal, we made our way to Goat Lake and the waterfall made by it's runoff. The top of this waterfall made a great place to relax in the sun and have lunch looking over an enormous canyon with Old Snowy mountain on one side and Mt. Adams far in the distance. Afterwards, it was time to head back towards camp with plans to head a ways up Hawkeye point. In the process of ascending Hawkeye point which looks over Goat Lake, one of our party discovered the bypass trail which would bypass the obstacle on our way back, and we took it.
On our third and final day we made a leisurely start to the day and just before afternoon started on our way out the same way we came in. This was my first time visiting the Goat Rocks area, and I would definitely like to go back and explore it more. It is a beautiful area with a variety of options for types of hikes and routes that you want to experience it in. Most of the trails in the core are at least moderate difficulty being high in steep mountains, so it helps to have a little bit of mountain goat spirit in you.
|Mountain Goats near Hawkeye point|