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Rip & Go: Trapper Creek Wilderness Loop – Gifford Pinchot National Forest, WA

Climb through towering evergreens to in-your-face Cascade views.

Key Skill: Waterproof your gear
It’s no mystery why the Trapper Creek Wilderness is so lush: 120 inches of annual rain. Here’s how to whip old jackets into storm shape.

Test your raingear with a spray bottle. If water doesn’t bead up easily, it’s time to recharge the fabric’s durable water repellent (DWR) finish. The DWR keeps the material from absorbing water (“wetting out”) and feeling cold and heavy.

>> First, throw the shell in the dryer on medium heat for 15 minutes, or iron it on low (put a towel between the shell and the iron). This “melts” the DWR and redistributes it across the shell.

>> Still absorbs water? Apply a spray-on (best for shells with wicking liners) or wash-in (best for unlined shells) waterproofer, such as ReviveX Spray-On Water Repellent ($14, If using a spray-on product, pay special attention to the shoulders, hip areas, front zipper, and cuffs.

Head to toe Don’t forget to waterproof your boots (we like Nikwax) at least 24 hours before heading out.

See This: Rough-Skinned Newt 
Scan the undergrowth along the Dry Creek Trail for this fiery-bellied wriggler, common from southeast Alaska to Northern California. The large (up to eight inches long) amphibian is one of the few newts you’re likely to see on the crawl during daylight hours. Why? It has few natural predators, thanks to a potent neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin in its skin, muscles, and blood. Similar to the poison found in puffer fish, the toxin in just one newt could kill up to 8  adult humans if they were foolish enough to eat it. Only the common garter snake has evolved enough resistance to safely snack on the rough-skinned newt (the newts themselves eat insects and other invertebrates). Though the newts can be spotted year-round, they’re most active when temps are moderate and the ground is wet.

Locals Know
Want to go wilder, tougher, and steeper than the already-demanding Trapper Creek Loop? You’ll love the Mazamas Trails. This network of connector paths lacing the wilderness is known for serving up tricky navigation and intense elevation gain—intentionally. The primitive paths are maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers with the Portland-based mountaineering group Mazamas (a 19th-century word for “mountain goats”). Mazamas Trails are rough by design, with downfall often left in place and only occasional blazes: “It’s to give people that additional level of adventure and routefinding challenge,” says Trail Tending Subcommittee Chair Rick Pope. “You can’t just walk along in your sleep.” The organization officially spearheads “maintenance” duties on about six trail miles in the Trapper Creek Wilderness by request of the Forest Service (and tends another 24 miles or so ranging from Mt. Hood to Portland’s Forest Park). Test your mettle on the Mazamas’ Sunshine Trail #198, which angles east off of the Trapper Creek Trail at mile 3.7 and climbs 1,700 feet in a mile. Link it with the also-primitive Rim Trail #202 and the Observation Peak Trail #132 for a shorter—but harder—route to the summit.

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