Andrew and I decided to skip the mile 15 trickling flow, hoping that the remnants of our 3 liters of water would get us to Middle Fork Toats Coulee Creek at Mile 20. By Mile 19, Andrew and I were feeling drained with the heat, water rationing and dispiritedness that comes from stagnant streams full of cow poo. We really hoped Coulee Creek was still in.
Seattle was covered in PM2.5 and plans A through D had gone up/in smoke. But an opportunity emerged when reading Joe’s weather blog. The NOAA HRRR model showed the Northern Okanagan as being the least smokey in Washington. With the model predicting clear skies in the morning and 6000’ AGL smoke in the afternoon, followed by surface smoke in the early evening... there was a window. Andrew researched that the Cold Springs and Pearl River Fires wouldn’t impact access and we made the call for the long drive Saturday morning.
Tip: Long Swamp Campground about 100 ft from the Windy Peak TH has a nice bathroom.
After making use of the Long Swamp Campground amenities we ran over the 61 blowdowns on the handle of the lollipop of the route with blue sky above us.
Blowdown | blō-ˌdau̇n
A tree blown down by the wind. Counted only if a tree blowdown impacts stride or course. If the subject blowdown crosses the trail in two locations (i.e. near a switch back), it will be counted twice. If you can run under the blowdown, it should not be counted.
Andrew put in his Granite extracted blood, sweat and tears into the next 7 miles of the route. Between here and the Middle Fork Toats Coulee Creek, you’ll pass some very very slow streams that could be made use of if you are running low. But the only good water source on the entire trail is the Middle Fork Toats Coulee Creek.
When above treeline the blowdowns will fade to memory… but the trail never forgets. It would have been far worse without the trail work from the forest service. We saw hundreds of blowdowns cleared which was a welcome gift. Speaking of gifts, some recent cattle runs provided the gift of a clearer connecter trail (#341/343) and stale pie.
Thankfully Middle Fork Toats Coulee Creek was in and it was a welcome spot to wash the face, drink some cold water and cool down. We reconnected to the handle.