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Thursday, September 22, 2016

IATNL UltramaTrex Day 3: Gulch Near Serpentine Valley to Blow Me Down Mountains above Simms Gulch

August 27, 2016
~11 miles

The day began cloudy and our Inreach weather forecast indicated windy and rainy weather was in the near future.

We hiked a short distance over to Wheeler Gulch on our way to the cut trail down to Serpentine Valley.

Wheeler Gulch

The route indicated that we were supposed to climb up after Wheeler Gulch, but we neglected to do this resulting in a fun bushwhack.

At times we were aided by moose trails.

As we neared a stream we found the IAT and it was great hiking on a trail.

The trail entered an open area near a river, but didn't indicate where it went.  A small road went off to the left. With GPS we identified that the trail crosses the river and the main road is on the other side.

On the other side and after a short hike through the trees we came to the road to Serpentine Lake.

It was nice easy walking, but it started to rain a little.

As we neared the lake there were a few trailers nearby but we didn't see anyone.

Serpentine Lake

Looking back to the Lewis Hills

The lake has several outlets into Serpentine River.  Many of these are quite deep and the water swift. The IAT instructs that the route is in the lake.  There were sticks in the water to guide the way as we followed a sand bar.

After the most significant crossing we came to a beautiful campsite.

There was a pool right by the lake that dropped straight down many feet. The rain let up.

After the many crossings we headed for the trail heading up to Simms Gulch.  There was a dead tree with a pink ribbon that we should have turned left away from the lake but we discovered this later.  Near a watery meadow we found where the trail enters the woods and it was well marked with many pink ribbons.

IAT heading up to Simms Gulch

The trail was reasonably easy to follow but gets little hiker traffic so we had to be careful to avoid wandering off on a moose trail.

There were some great views back to the Lewis Hills.

We took a side trail to the impressive falls on Simms Brook.

After returning to the trail, the clouds came in and rain began to fall.

Approaching Simms Gulch

Simms Brook Gulch

There were still IAT blazes attached to trees.

The gulch was quite dramatic and soon we couldn't see out either side.

The hiking wasn't difficult, but the rain and wind continued. We took shelter under a large rock for a break.

There were some nice waterfalls.

Andrew in Simms Brook Gulch

We reached the point where the route climbs out of the gulch, the ridge to the right of center in the photo below.

It was a steep and windy climb but we didn't encounter anything technical.  There were blazes painted on large boulders to guide our way.

Looking back to Simms Brook Gulch

Near the top it looked intimidating but there was a route on the right side of this.

We reached the top and it was flat as far as we could see and still quite windy.

There were still great views down into the gulch.

We came to a stream that empties into the gulch and decided it was time to find a place to camp.

Finding a campsite was difficult as nearly everything was soaked and had sitting water and the wind was quite intense.  We eventually settled on a damp spot behind some small bushes and called it a day.

Continue to Days 4 & 5

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About Me

I've been born and raised in the great state of Michigan. I recently graduated from physical therapy school. I enjoy being active, playing sports, and running. Backpacking has become a great interest as it is a physical challenge that provides many rewarding views and experiences. I strive to make a difference in the lives of those encounter in every day life, on the trail, or even just on this blog. May God bless each of you. Now go find an adventure! It's only a few feet away!