Athelney Pass 30/08/08

Chris at Athelney Pass/Salal Creek:
“Attrition due to injuries and work commitments whittled our group down to just 2 but off we went anyway. The Lillooet River FSR is in good 2wd condition all the way to the Salal Creek Road. A creek was flowing over the road at 45.5 km which is probably doable by a confident driver in a 2wd with average clearance but depends on the time of year (earlier = higher water level). The hill beyond had a bumpy bit at the start but was good after that. At the top of the hill is the unmarked Salal Creek Road on the right (47.8 km). Most of the traffic on this road takes a right fork at 1.1 km to go to a mine – the route to the trail is straight over a shallow berm (may require high clearance). Two-wheel-drive traffic will be halted by the heavy rutting caused by water runoff at 1.3 km. We turn left at 5.3 km (straight leads to a new cut) and arrived at the trailhead at 6.0 km. The trail started at the far (north) end of the cut and is flagged by orange and pink flags (some initial confusion due to 2 parallel sets of flagging 10m apart – the best set is the uphill ones). A distinct footpath is rare but the flagging was good even in dense slide paths. Half an hour later we emerged on the gravel flats next to the creek. Whenever the creek hugged the east bank, flags led up into the forest to bypass the section (keep an eye peeled for them). There was one unflagged section of alder travel (100 m but felt much longer). Nearing the glaciers and after the recent rockslide, a faint footpath appeared close to the creek but disappeared after the first side-creek crossing. The 2 creek crossings are unbridged but we rock-hopped over them after scouting for a good crossing point. After that, the route traveled along a glacial moraine until it got too eroded and knife-edgy and we were forced down to the creek again. Much rock travel took us to the volcanic flats from where it was less than an hour to the collapsed cabin at the pass. Over the next couple days, it snowed, our boots froze solid, we visited ice caves at the toe of Athelstan Glacier, travelled down the boggy McPharlon Creek and climbed the Elephant.”

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