Travels with the Original Easyrider®
2013 Edition

Hike the Elk-Kings Mountain traverse
Tillamook State Forest
Elk Mountain, el 2788'
Kings Mountain, el 3226'
An 11 hour, 11.66 mile hike with 4,200' total elevation gain
March 9, 2013

Miles hiked= 54.2; Total elevation gain= 8,030'
2012 Totals: 367.58 miles, 101,161' elevation gain

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Did this hike in 2012. Here's the Elk-Kings Mountain Traverse trail report.
Trip reports for this hike in 2013 are HERE and HERE.
Also, information on Elk Mountain and Kings Mountain.

GETTING THERE: The Kings Mountain trailhead parking is at about MP 25 on the
Wilson River Highway (Oregon Route 6). There's enough room for a dozen or so cars
and there is a permanent privy on site. No pass is required at this time.

Travel up (north) for 0.1 mile until you come to a well marked 4-way fork. Turn
right (east) and travel parallel to highway 6 for about 3 1/2 miles. This is a
fairly level, easy to follow trail. Go left when you come to a well marked fork that
goes north and up, up, up to Elk Mountain. This is not a "difficult" climb although
there is some bouldering and exposure. I've seen dogs on this segment but I'll bet
they don't like it much.

The bridge over Dog Creek is still out. Best option is this wide but slippery

It was a rare (for this time of year) bluebird day. Very cold at night, so you
wouldn't want to get stuck out here overnight. But it was in the 50's and dry
during the daylight hours. Here's a view of Elk Mountain taken from one of the
many viewpoints on the steep, knee-buster trail to the summit.

It took about 4 hours to hike the 5 miles from the Kings Mountain trailhead to
the Elk Mountain summit. I did stop to see if I could get pictures of the three huge
elk I saw along that way... but mostly I was slower than usual because I am woefully
out of shape after a long Winter of goofing off and gaining 20#.

The view of Kings Mountain from the Elk Mountain summit. The trail to get there
is about three miles.... somewhat difficult in the Summer, more so in the Winter.
There were almost no colorful weeds but they were getting ready to pop so there
should be some color up here pretty soon.

Not far past the Elk Mountain summit you start running into snow. Not terribly
deep but it does slow you down some and made navigation difficult in spots. Lost
the trail several times along the way... I was too far in to turn back.. only had
a few hours more of daylight. I did become concerned that I may wind up spending the
night out here. I did have plenty of food and fire starting equipment but it would
be below freezing up here overnight so pressing on seemed like the thing to do. I
knew if I made it to the Kings Mountain summit (which was frequently in view) I would
be ok. Spending the night on Kings would be desireable to being stuck on one of the
snowy, icy ridges.

From this well marked fork it's another difficult 2.0 miles to the Kings Mountain
summit. But from there, the last 2.5 miles are all downhill and the trail is much
wider, drier and easier to follow, even in the dark. It took about two hours to get
here from the Elk Mountain summit and it would be another two hours before I got to
the Kings Mountain summit.

There are several nice viewpoints looking North along the Elk-Kings traverse.
I'm maybe a mile from the Kings Mountain summit at this point. Navigation will soon
become difficult. On the plus side, you're on a ridge so even if you lose the trail
you aren't "lost".... but the ridge has some deep, slippery snow and ice and there
are a few very exposed locations along the way. I didn't bring crampons but I did
have microspikes that I chose not to put on. An ice axe would have been helpful
though. Came very close to taking a several hundred foot spill along the way.
The last 1/2 mile to the Kings summit contains a lot of switchbacks that are covered
in snow and difficult to follow. There is some significant blow down along the way.
Again, I could see the summit for most of the final mile but a line of sight bushwhack
would have been difficult if not impossible.

I was down to my last two hours or so of daylight by this time.

I was happy to finally get to the Kings Mountain summit! The sun was just about
ready to go below the mountain... maybe a half hour or so of daylight left. Big
relief to be here... I had three fully charged headlamps, a good trail to follow
and plenty of food and water. The battery in my GPS finally died about a mile
from the trailhead but no worries there.

About a mile from the trailhead I had to go on the headlamp. Right about then
a couple of young guys came along headed up. It was too late to catch the sunset from
the summit so I don't know what their plan was. They seemed to be packing light
so I dunno.... young and in love in the Peoples Republic of Oregon, I guess...

Got back to the trailhead at 6:50. Pitch dark and getting cold by this time. The
clocks move ahead one hour tomorrow for daylight savings....

This was a good and a much needed conditioner and a good test of my wilderness
navigation ability. Taking the Mazama BCEP course a year ago definitely helped
on this little venture.

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