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[pct-l] WA detour description

I finished my thru-hike on Wednesday, and I figured I would try and
help other people out by creating a guidebook-like section for the
detour, except without all the geology stuff we all skip.  So if you
are a hiker, or know a hiker who will do this section soon and think
this info might be helpful, go ahead and send it to anyone that needs
it.  If you've done the detour section since me (July 30, 31) then I'd
love your suggestions/updates.  In general, the detour is very steep,
and really sucks, but there are LOTS of water sources along the entire

>From North to South:
Detour starts at Indian Pass.  There's a big obvious sign with a flier
describing the detour in very vague terms.  First is the decision
between the prescribed route and the White River route.  White River
is shorter, but ill advised.  (That's the way I went.) It is miles and
miles of 6 foot tall pricker bushes.  Since I have not taken the
regular route, I cannot be certain of its conditions, but seriously,
the White River route SUCKS.  If you insist on taking it, you stay on
the PCT 1.7 past the detour sign, then hang a right onto the WR trail.
 The trail dies out after only a few yards.  You may want to bear
right past a little campsite, but go left to the end of the clearing,
and the trail starts up again.  You slowly descend the ridge,
switchback down to river level, and cross several tributaries, the WR
itself twice, and then several more tributaries, all the while wishing
you had a machete.  I remember a strong creek with two halves, the
second of which had a bridge spanning 3/4 of it to be the last creek,
before coming to a huge, obvious campsite and an obvious junction with
the prescribed detour.

You hang a left and begin going up towards Boulder Pass.  You
switchback almost immediately.  Here the trail has been cleared of
trees so it is wide, but at ground level, the prickers are still
annoying.  The trail should be easy to follow up to the pass, where
there is a detour sign.  On the other side, the trail switchbacks
tightly down.  The slope mellows out in a meadow, but at the same
time, the trail dies out.  You will probably head straight, and end up
in a campsite.  If you poke around, you may find a "trail" heading out
the right side of the site.  Don't go that way.  When the trail dies
out in the meadow, aim slightly left past a little cairn. The trail
picks up again, and you start switching back all the way down to the
Napeequa.  It gets muddy before you get all the way down.  Cross the
knee-high river right where you come to it, and scramble up the bank
to the detour sign and junction.  Go right.

You head downstream, staying a couple hundred yards from the river for
a couple miles.  The "trail" is basically trampled waist high grass,
and occasionally there are cairns when you cross dry streambeds.  You
get further and further from the river, and soon start tight
switchbacks straight up to Little Giant Pass.  A trail crew was
working on this when I passed, but I still expect it to be steep and

On the other side of the pass, the trail is probably the steepest of
the entire hike.  Right after you top the pass, you come to two
trails.  One is just switchbacks, the other is straight down--don't
worry, they both go to the same place.  They cross and recross several
times before you start switching down exposed rock that is crappily
cairned.  You eventually reenter forest to the right (when looking
downhill) in a burn where all the burnt trees still have needles. 
After a campsite and a tributary, you climb a bit--enough to make you
wonder why it's not on the elevation profile, but then things mellow
out.  A more gradual descent takes you to a wide dry streambed with 3
medium size cairns across it.  There isn't a clear trail from here,
but you cross the bed and follow it down/left to the Chiwawa.  If you
go downstream on the Chiwawa for 100 or so yards, you can probably see
the trailhead on the other side.  Knee high (and I'm only 5'4").

Hang a left on the dusty dirt road toward Trinity.  It's a very gentle
climb the whole way, you pass several streams under the road, 2 FS
campgrounds, and then see a road up and to the right towards Phelps
Creek.  There is some sort of route through Spider Meadow that goes
that way, but I'm not certain.  The detour goes straight/left, and
takes you to the Trinity trailhead.

Just to the left of the Trinity trailhead info board, you cross the
big stream on a bridge.  You cross several tributaries, come close to
private property and its road, and come to a fork with an old wood
sign saying "trail -->", you go -->, pass a sign for the Wilderness
area, then come to a junction with the Chiwawa Valley trail.  It goes
right, you go left.  The trail is immaculate, and will be well
appreciated after the crap you've been on for the past 35 miles.  This
pass is tree covered, and you can actually see it a while before you
get to it.  Near it you start curving away from it to the right, and
you might think it's to the right of the big rock face, but ignore the
lesser trails that branch off in that direction--you go to the
left/below the big rock face, and actually stay high above the actual
pass.  Expect the pass campsite to be full of weekenders.

Just past and still above the pass, you come to a detour sign.  Spurs
go down to the pass, but you stay high and go straight.  You might be
expecting "Buck Pass Trail" or something like that, but it's actually
called Middle Ridge trail.  Immediately after the pass, BAM! there is
Glacier Peak in full effect, BEAUTIFUL views to the west.  Maybe a
half mile later, a tree has a sign saying "Middle Ridge Trail, Miners
Ridge -->" and then there's a trail off to your left.  Ignore it, keep
going straight, and start switching down.  At the bottom you cross a
creek, cross one part of the way up, and slowly climb up Middle Ridge.
 (Hooray! You're back on the guidebook maps now.)  When you get to the
top of Middle Ridge, there is a detour sign on a tree that helps out
southbounders, but is of no use to Nobos.  Go straight, and ignore the
trails left (to a campsite) and right (up the ridge?).  You head over
the ridge towards Fortress Mt, then switchback in a dark Hemlock
forest for a long time, and come out on the real trail at a rather
obvious detour sign.  Nobos go right, and the hellish detour is over

Good luck,
Garret "The Onion" Christensen