Your Guide To Training For A High Elevation Adventure

T

here is nothing better than a crisp cool autumn hike through changing leaves during this time of year.

Hiking in late September through early October can be a bracing experience due to heavy winds and changing temperatures, but the stalwart hiker gets the award of enjoying the fall foliage. 

If you can manage to bring a thermos of hot chocolate with you, the combination might provide the perfect experience.

On Sept. 30, I took two co-workers on a hike in the Blue Mountains along the Panjab Trail. The trail itself is supposed to be 2.8 miles long, 5.6 miles round trip, with 2,500 feet of elevation. 

We ended up going 3.6 miles, 7.2 miles roundtrip, without reaching the end. 

It was a beautiful experience, if a bit challenging hike, but finding the trailhead turned out to be its own adventure.

I wrote down directions to the trailhead from the Washington Trail Association’s website and double checked them using Google maps. I have gotten turned around in the Blue’s before and wanted to be sure I knew where I was going. GPS systems on phones do not work past Dayton, and our team of cohorts relied on odometer readings and an atlas to guide us to the trailhead.

The website recommended using Patit Road, turning right onto Malcolm Grade, left on Kendall Skyline, continuing onto Forest Road 4620 and then turning right onto Tucannon Road. 

I do not recommend going this way.

First of all, if your car is not equipped for rugged, extremely primitive roads, then this route is not for you.

Additionally, the twists and turns are so convoluted it is easy to get lost.

Instead, continue on Patit Road past Malcolm Grade until it forces you to turn left on Harstock Grade Road. Harstock Grade Road dead ends into Tucannon Road, where you take a right. 

You then continue on Tucannon Road for about 14.5 miles until you reach Forest Road 4713, and turn right. You will pass the Panjab campground, and a little past three miles you will reach the Panjab trailhead.

A good portion of this route is paved, and even the gravel parts are well maintained, so getting there should be no problem. 

Also, the trailhead is clearly marked, but make sure to bring your National Forest pass.

On our way back to Dayton, we also ran into some bighorn sheep crossing Tucannon Road . So, if you do head this way be on the lookout for these brazen beasts. 

If you stop to take pictures, remember not to get out of your vehicle as they are wild sheep.

When we arrived, the parking lot was packed with horse trailers. The Panjab trail is clearly popular with horseback riders.

The hike starts out immediately by crossing a steel bridge under which Panjab Creek runs.

Hikers continue to follow the creek for most of the trail, and are forced to navigate some tributaries running through the path, as well as some deep mud. 

The tributaries are all shallow at this time of year, but in the spring may be impassable.

As we hiked, we spent quite a bit of time jumping over manure piles, which marked the way up the hill. 

At one point, a couple on their mules came up behind us. The mules acted skittish and we got several feet off the path to let them pass. If you don’t feel comfortable around skittish animals this may not be the trail for you.

The other concern I had is that the instructions listed on the Washington Trail Association’s website don’t inform readers there is a fork in the road about three-quarters of a mile into the hike. I wrote down some directions from the website, but got confused thinking I should take a right.

We went less than a quarter of a mile before someone informed us we needed to turn around and take the left fork.

On this trail, I also ran into not one, but two juvenile rattlesnakes. The snakes slithered close enough I got a good look at their markings, but moved quickly to avoid us. I would definitely recommend wearing high boots.

About 3.6 miles into the hike, I decided to turn us back. We were supposed to reach an intersection near the top and keep right, and then keep left later at another fork while Dusty Trail veered to the right. 

The Panjab Trail is then supposed to end in a meadow, which in the spring is covered in wildflowers. 

I never even saw the first intersection near the top.

Overall, the trail was fairly well maintained. It was a bit of a climb with some serious elevation gain, but nothing too challenging for the practiced hiker. 

Once you get near the top of the ridge, the valley opens up to give you some beautiful views of the dusty brown hills that make up the Blues. 

The hillsides do show signs of a forest fire that cut its way through in 2005. 

If you don’t enjoy jumping over rocks and balancing on logs to avoid thick mud or wading through shallow creeks, I wouldn’t recommend this hike.

Source : http://www.union-bulletin.com/things_to_do/diversions/an-adventure-along-the-panjab/article_45aca9d8-b03d-11e7-b7e9-07d7aae04430.html

An adventure along the Panjab
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