Larch Pass Loop: Day 1: Billy Goat Corral to Billy Goat Pass
We left Redmond around 10am and reached Winthrop at 2pm. The drive over the pass (20) was quite lovely with blue skies and sun shining out across the road. On reaching Winthrop, we headed into the excellent Winthrop Mountain Sports to pick up a few extra bits of kit. From there we headed out of town towards Perrygrin State Park and over NF51 to reach the trailhead at Billy Goat Corral some 17 miles later. The trailhead was pretty nice as trailheads go with clear signage, permit station and a nice double "FS standard toilet" building.
Getting all the gear loaded and Jilly ready to go (it was her first back country hike so she was super excited) took a while. We packed up the remainder of our lunch (hummus and cucumbers) and headed out on to the trail at 4pm. After about 1/4 mile the trail forked and we turned right heading up directly to Billy Goat Pass. The climb to the pass was 2.6 miles and was nice and steep climbing 1800′ to the pass.
We hiked over the pass quickly with no views due to dense trees. We soon passed over a nice new bridge at Drake Creek which had just been completed by a group of WTA volunteers. Apparently we were the first hikers over the bridge so we suggested they call if "Jilly Dog Bridge". We’ll have to see if the name sticks. The WTA group of 9 people were in wonderful spirits and had a roaring campfire going at their extremely well equipped wilderness camp. It was great to see the group of mixed ages (low 20′s to 60′s) having such a great time.
We continued on down the trail for about another mile before finding a nice camping spot 30′ feet from a small stream. By this time the light was beginning to fade and we setup camp, I hung our bear rope and we started to make Jilly’s dinner. Rather than take regular dried dog food, Lynn had sourced some dehydrated raw food which came highly recommended. If Jilly’s initial response was anything to go by this food was going to be a hit. We brewed up some water and then left Jilly’s food the recommended 30 minutes to rehydrate and then settled in for our own dinner of hummus and cucumbers – yum!
As the light faded, the temperatures dropped fast. The forecast was for snow at 6200′ so we’d tried to lose as much elevation as we could eventually settling in at 5900′ and hoping we’d miss the predicted poor weather. We rolled into bed around 8:30pm already feeling chilled.