backpack: Goat Rocks – Lily Basin, Snowgrass Flats, PCT & Bypass Trail
Location: Southwest Washington, between Mount Adams and Mount Rainier, in Goat Rocks Wilderness
Total mileage for four days: 20.4 miles with 3,894 ft. elevation gain
For a three night backpacking trip, we started at the Snowgrass trailhead and hiked in to the junction with the Lily Basin trail (about 4.5 miles, 1,500 ft. gain). We setup our tents at one of the many campsites in the Alpine Camp area. Within a short walk, there are views of Mount Adams, Goat Rocks, Goat Ridge, Mount St. Helens, and wildflower meadows with streams. For filtering water, we walked about a quarter of a mile to a beautiful stream. Wildflowers in bloom included avalanche lilies, heather, paintbrush, buttercup, asters, and more. Bear grass was abundant along sections too.
On the second day, we did a day hike towards still-frozen Goat Lake. We hiked about 2 miles, then turned around at a snow bridge over a creek. There were several larger snowfields to cross, and with the warmth of summer, the snow was melting and making it not as safe to travel across them (even though there were plenty of people doing so with no problems).
On the third day, we took the Snowgrass trail across to the PCT, then headed north for about a mile. We were heading towards Old Snowy, but turned around at a large snowfield with a steep slope, opting to explore farther south on the PCT. At the Bypass trail junction, several of us turned to head back to camp while the rest continued to hike towards Cispus Pass.
The Bypass trail was very different from everything else we had seen. We felt like we were hiking through fairy land. Bear grass filled the bright green meadows.
I got a chance to practice water crossings on logs. This one turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be.
Sunset on our last night was a treat: pink clouds and alpenglow on Goat Rocks and Mount Adams. After running around quite a bit for the best views, we ended the night in a small meadow behind our campsite, with the moon and Mount Adams in the night sky.
On the last morning, I got up before everyone else and walked around to get more photos in the early light. We packed up and headed out, knowing that rain was likely on the way. Sure enough, on the way out, it started sprinkling, then the rain picked up, it hailed for a bit, then poured rain while thunder roared. It didn’t get too close until we were back at the trailhead, sopping wet and ready to head home.