Dollar Lake wildfire on Timberline Trail

It was a very… “unique” surprise to run into a wildfire of all things on a backpacking/scouting trip.

Outrunning the wildfire...

Intending to circle the mountain from Timberline and scout some climbing crags (Newton, Lamberson Butte, etc) I had gone a direction (eastward) where there were no signs posted so I never knew about the fire. After intense climbing and bushwacking I eventually stumbled across the wonder of 50 foot flames. I had camped at Cloud Cap (which was totally empty due to the closures though I had no idea) and found no signs posted on any of the boards there either. I thought the protective foil wrapped around the outhouse was kind of odd and probably due to construction or something. Hmm! A truck drove up the road next to my camp as well and I assumed they saw me as I had my light on and a small fire going, but the vehicle never stopped.

I left at dawn the next morning and scrambled up and around the Eliot branch washout and continued hiking. After confronting the wild fire sometime later I had two options. One was to return about 15 fatiguing miles back to Meadows and try to find a ride (since there was no one at cloud cap I wouldn’t have been able to get a ride from anyone there.) Or bushwack through the sub-alpine areas above the tree line until I got around the fires. Being only 5 or 6 miles from McNeil and Top Spur I opted to climb around it. Using my GPS I tracked over 2.5 miles as fast as I could staying clear of the tree line and carefully watching the direction of the fires and winds until I finally reconnected with the trail pas Wy’East Basin. A true adventure to say the least, but I wish they had posted signs at Timberline at the trail going eastward!

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