Goat Rocks (Aug 31 to Sep 3, 2007)

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goat_rocks_coverConditions: Backpack
Gear: overnight gear, helmet, rope
Map: USGS Walupt Lake, USGS Old Snowy Mtn
Area: Goat Rocks Wilderness
Reference: Climbing Washington's Mountains (Smoot), 100 Hikes in Washington's South Cascades & Olympics
Stats: approx. approx. 42mi, 12,500 gain (one way)

Wow, what an amazing trip. I feel very blessed to have spent 4 wonderful days with two great friends in such an awesome area. And to have good weather all four days was the real treat.

I have always wanted to return to the Goats since first visiting the area in 2003. In July 2004 Beth and I did an attempt on Mt C-G but I bailed high on Klickton Divide because the conditions were so completely different than this last weekend. Iím so glad we went back.

The Goat Rocks is really an interesting area. Itís located centrally to Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens and Mt Adams. The views of these WA volcanoes IMO is unsurpassed anywhere else in the state. The rocks are the remains of a large stratovolcano which has been extinct for some 2 million years. The long gone volcano towered over the area at more than 12,000 feet!!! What one now sees is just a highly eroded and glaciated landscape with the higher peaks averaging about 8k feet in elevation. A good deal of the landscape is above timberline so again, IMO, one gets a feeling for the vastness of the landscape that is unsurpassed anywhere else in the state. Standing atop Mt Curtis-Gilbert and realizing the Yakima Indian Reservation stretches from there down to the summit of Mt Adams and beyond is almost hard to comprehend. Protection of the area started in 1931 with the DOA dedicating 44,500 acres as the Goat Rocks Primitive Area. This was increased to 72,440 acres in 1940 and to 82,680 acres in 1940. In 1964 with the passage of the Wilderness Act the areaís protection increased to 105,600 acres. Some interesting facts about the area are that the Tieton Andesite Flow is the longest known andesite flow on Earth. Another is that the Cispus Pass pluton forms the southern part of the old core!

The trip plan was originally to start the trip at the Berry Patch TH, hike up Goat Ridge and past Goat Lk. Then continue high up the flanks of Old Snowy and Ives on the PCT and continue on above Snowgrass Flats into Cispus Basin, over Cispus Pass and out Nannie Ridge. At the last minute we decided to reverse the route. The was such a good last minute decision! A couple of general thoughts on the area: - I had forgotten how incredibly gorgeous the area is and how utterly crappy the rock is. - I donít think there is anywhere else in the state with such a profusion of wildflowers. The broad strokes of color the wildflowers make is enough to make your jaw drop and make one gasp. No kidding! - The area is vastÖitís hard to describe. You have to see it to comprehend it. Peak tagged along the way: Mt Curtis-Gilbert 8184' Ives Pk 7940' Old Snowy Mtn 7838' Nannie Peak Lookout 6065' (built about 1934, removed in the 60's) Goat Ridge Lookout 6156' (built 1933, removed in the 60's) Hawkeye Point 7431' (built in 1927, used 4 years, removed 1966)

Day 1: Hike to Nannie Pk LO and on to Cispus Pass. We started a bit late in the day, nearly 3pm, because we had to arrange the car shuttle. We first drove to the Walupt Lk area and dropped gear. Steve then took the car and a bike, drove to the Berry Patch TH and then biked all the way back to Walupt Lk. He got from Beth and I for so graciously doing the shuttle set up! We hiked up Nannie Ridge and investigated the remains of an old lookout up there. Then we continued along the trail past Sheep Lk and on to Cispus Pass arriving just before dark and just in time. About 10 minutes after our arrival two through hikers arrived and tired plopped down a campsite not too far from ours. It was fun to talk with the hikers one of which had done a 65 mile stretch of the PCT in just one day!

Day 2: We had to do some serious backtracking to get to Mt Curtis-Gilbert. I easily made my way past the section of crappy rock on the ridge that turned me back on the last try. Itís amazing what nice conditions can do for a trip. The route follows the upper Klickton Divide and the trail is really obvious all the way to the summit. There is just one short class 3 section just below the summit. The views from the top are of course incredible and as I peered over at Tieton Pk I just canít imagine any route to the top that doesnít over exert ones sphincter unless it has snow all the way to the top.

Day 3: Hike to camp at 7000' and scramble Ives Pk and Old Snowy Mtn. Day 2 had us packing up our comfortable camp at Cispus Basin and continuing on up above Snowgrass Flats on a gorgeous section of the PCT. We made camp at an amazing campsite just past the Dana Yelverton shelter at about 7000í. From camp we had the most incredible views of Mt Rainier, Mt Adams and Mt St Helens. After making camp we headed off to try Old Snowy and Ives. We headed for the first saddle to the south of Old Snowy and traversed on some of the crappiest talus Iíve seen in a while. We stayed close the ridge dropping to one side or the other looking for the easiest approach to the summit of Ives. We stayed to the west of the summit block, then around the south of it and finally found a ledge and enjoyed some nice class 3 scrambling up the south side of the peak to the top. For the route down we wisely chose to just make a bee-line for the PCT and avoid all that unpleasant crappy talus. Then, following the PCT Beth and Steve went up the ďnewĒ PCT trail high up on Old Snowy and then down the north side and on to Elk Pass. I wandered around a bit following the old PCT section on the north side of Old Snowy then backtracked to the new trail which is a hands in pockets trip to the top.

Day 4: Hike past Goat Lk, Hawkeye Point, Nannie Pk LO. We left camp below Old Snowy and headed NW pretty much making a straight line for Goat Lk. It starts as a boot path until one connects with the main trail at about 6200í. We stopped at Goat Lk for some jaw dropping views of Mt Adams and then continues on to the head of Jordan Basin. Steve and Beth tagged an old lookout site on Hawkeye Pt. My knees had been complaining all weekend so I took my good old time hiking the trail along Goat Ridge. I finally met up with Steve and Beth at the site of the old LO on Goat Ridge. After a short break poking around looking for relics we headed down the trail to the waiting car.

More information on the lookouts: The Nannie Peak lookout is a former lookout site. There was an L-4 cab built in 1934 but it was gone sometime in the 1960's. The Goat Ridge lookout is also a former lookout site. It was also an L-4 base but unlike Nannie LO, it had a basement. This structure built in 1933 was also gone sometime in the 1960's.

Notes: This trip cooked my knees...I'm done. I got home and made an appointment with an orthopedic. WHAT came of that is a whole story in itself...
Goat Rocks Slideshow

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