I've been wanting to do the Winner creek trail to Berry pass and then float the 20 mile river for a really long time. Starting out on the luxurious Winner creek trail, complete with board walks and benches, is as good as it gets. It was about 6.5 miles to the top of Berry Pass, the trail slowly gained elevation the whole way so there was no big hill climb to the top of the pass.
Erin and I at the Top of Berry Pass
Erin and I did the classic crack of noon start and about an hour into our hike we ran into Cody and his friend, also on the same late day summer program. Its fun to run into people you know in the mountains, we leap frogged each other for most of the trip.
Photo by: Erin Kaldor
From the top of the pass the trail slowly disintegrates from a wide board walk to a narrow trail that is easy to lose. There is flagging everywhere at this point, and its not all related to the trail.. I'm not sure what is going on up there, but someone went buck wild with the flagging tape. But there was a trail the whole way down the mountain to the put in on the river and it was worth the effort to stay on. The bushwhacking looked pretty fierce off trail with the usual racket of alder bushes, devils club, and patches of deep mud.
It took about 5 hours to get to the river and we wasted little time putting in because the bug situation was pretty dire. This was Erin's first time ever in a packraft (I feel like I'm initiating a lot of people this week) and the learning curve was pretty steep. In the first 1000 yards she got sucked into a tree hanging across the river, my boat hit her boat and before I knew it we were both swimming. Luckily we both managed to hang onto our paddles, Erin grabbed my boat and I practiced swimming with a paddle after her boat. I love my drysuit!!!!
The 20 Mile River
Since I'm a novice packrafter myself the only advice I could really offer Erin was, "paddle harder and point your boat away from objects you don't want to hit"...I'm fairly sure that she was ready to beat me with her paddle at a couple points....but after the beginning the river got really, really mellow. A great trip through some beautiful scenery.