Goat Island Mountain (Jun 15, 2013)

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goat_island_mtn_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: ice axe and microspike (not really needed)
Map: USGS White River Park, USGS Chinook Pass, USGS Mount Rainier East, USGS Sunrise
Area: Mount Rainier (Sunrise)
13mi, 3607' gain (round trip)

Just Barry and I on this trip. Everyone else was out of town or had other plans. OK...so where to go? I suggested Goat Island Mtn (MRNP) and Barry obliged. I've had this trip on my list for several years. The weather looked ideal...

We met at the SE8th P&R and then drove down to the White River entrance to MRNP. I was wondering if the parking area at Fryingpan Creek would be full. About a half dozen cars. Not bad. We were moving by about 9am.

The forest hike was cool and flat but in no time we were warmed up from moving. An occasional itsy bitsy small patch of snow here and there below the switchback. One big patch but easy to find your way...

The switchbacks were snow free...up we continued. Last weekend put reports of snow at the top of the switchbacks. Not today... Snow was there but a bit after the last turn. From there...the snow patches got a bit bigger. We reached the log crossing in good time.

The snow on the other side of the log looked pretty rotten. Crossing here also meant a creek crossing higher up. Hmm...some trip reports had people staying to the north of Fryingpan Creek. We figured we'd give this alternate route a try.

We hiked along the creek edge a short ways until the water forced us up higher. We ended up going too high and getting into some serious schwacking. Yuck. Discouraged...we dropped back down to the creeks edge and found travel much easier. Up the creek we went. This could be interesting I told myself...later in the day...let's hope the snow doesn't get too soft...The creek edge was a mix of open rocks, small streams, and snow covered something.

When we reached the head of Fryingpan Creek we could see glissades tracks coming down off the ridge. Views of Little Tahoma from here are incredible. We headed up. I started to struggle. Legs just weren't feeling up to this trip. I struggled most of the rest of the trip trying to find my stride. Heading to the gap we did a rising traverse up a moderate snow slope. We finally gained the ridge and views of Rainier began to emerge. The route pretty much follows the ridge crest. Mostly up but as all ridges go it's a bit like a roller coaster ridge.

Heading to Pt 7218 the ridge is mostly snow covered (several feet) but there are some stretches of bare rock/dirt. I took a small break here hoping a rest and some food would help. Then, we continued on to the high point (7268'). Some anemones starting to bloom along the ridge but just barely. Barry pulled out his binoculars and could see several climbing parties/tents at Camp Sherman. The views down to the Emmons Glacier from this ridge...spectacular.

I was feeling a bit better but still off my mark. I got to the low point just beyond Pt 7186 and called it a day....happy to just be out again. Barry continued on and in short order met me back at my late lunch spot.

The ridge walk east, back toward the mountain saw clouds moving in. Some looked like they might bring rain.

We followed our route down back to the head of Fryingpan Creek. Now what? Cross up high and then over the rail-less foot log? Or...try staying low along the entire north side of the creek. We decided on the later. The route goes well. A couple of minor post holes. Both of us a little nervous about snow covered rocks next to a creek. We hugged the bank as much as possible. At one point the creek forced us up the bank but for just a short while. We met back up with the Wonderland Trail near the foot log crossing. Then the long...long...loooong hike out.

Great day.

Careful of snow in and along the creek. This part of the route is nothing to trifle with.

13mi, 3607' gain (round trip)
3.5mi, 1435 (-1) to footbridge
1.15mi, +1120 (-0) to shoulder
1.06mi, +820 (-0) to Pt 7218
.67mi, +130 (-89) to Pt 7186
an additional .23mi, +93 (-54) to continue on to the summit
Goat Island Mountain Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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