May 8-9, 2021: Biking and Hiking Ipsut at Rainer NP

We decided check out Ipsut campground from Carbon River road. Ipsut used to be a drive-up campsite before the road washed out due to flooding. Full of spacious campsites with tables, bike lockers, food lockers, and bathrooms, we love Ipsut and often camp there while on the Wonderland Trail.

Saturday at noon, the ride started easy! Me on my beloved Specialized gravel bike! Andrew on my dad’s steel Trek hybrid bike from the 1980’s, and a doggie trailer full of gear!

Then it got kinda difficult.

Why is this so funny.
I helped Andrew out and took over the antique

After a silly 4.7 miles, we arrived Ipsut Campground.

Being early season, crews are currently working to clear the downed trees across the campsite. I have a whole new appreciation for the National Park staff.

We set up camp.

Then, we went on a hike to the Carbon River junction.

The Carbon River is mighty, and every year the bridge is washed away. Last year in June, we didn’t cross it (too sketchy), changing our Infinity Loop itinerary. I crossed it when I ran the NE section of the Wonderland in August. And now… it’s out again! We admired the Carbon River at the end of the line, and made our way to our campsite for dinner.

We woke up early the next day, packed up our avalanche and climbing gear, ate breakfast, and started our hike to Ipsut Pass- an area we frequent in the summer and fall.

After almost two hours of skipping over snow bridges and post holing 😆, we arrived at the infamous Ipsut Pass. Ipsut pass climbs almost 1000 feet in less than a half mile. First time seeing it covered in snow!

We assessed the terrain from a sheltered and avy-safe area.  We didn’t go into the basin, knowing that it could be a slide path.  We thought the pass looked medium risk- there was evidence of wet loose slides and potential areas for cornice fall.  So, it was a NOPE.  

Just as we stood up to leave, an avalanche (D2) released from an adjacent cliff, climbers left of the summer trail.  The run-out stopped before the forest floor (where we were), but some remnants of the slide rolled into the basin.  

Google Earth! The slide path (red), and where we witnessed it (green). Summer trail to the right (you can see the switchbacks)

We saw one other set of boot tracks on the trail, probably from yesterday or the day before.  Whoever it was also turned around.  BUT those prints were within the slide path, under a couple of smallish aprons in the fall-line of a cliff band.  Freaky!

Thankful that we assessed the situation properly and stayed in safe zones, we hiked a very reflective 3.5 miles back to our campsite. We downed popcorn, loaded the bikes, and coasted to our car.


Ipsut Weekend Totals

Total Distance: 9.2 Miles biking, 10 miles hiking

Total Gain: 500 feet biking, 2000 feet hiking

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