October 13, 2009

Some old goats on Goat Mountain

Filed under: Hiking, North Cascades — geezerwriter @ 11:22 pm

On Monday four of us (Fred, Mike, Tris and I) set out for Goat Mountain to take advantage of the good weather. It was clear and cold (high 30’s) when we left the trailhead, but we warmed up quickly. By the time we reached the open meadows above the tree line it was definitely below freezing – there was no liquid water anywhere and long needles of hoarfrost in every depression on the trail.

Goat Mountain in the fall

Goat Mountain in the fall

There are still lots of blueberries on the bushes, but the leaves are turning from red to brown and the berries are starting to shrivel. Not too shriveled for me to eat, mind you, but their taste is getting a bit flat. We stopped for lunch at about 5200 feet, at the ledge with the grand views of Mounts Shuksan and Sefrit and friends. We dragged every bit of clothing we had from our packs because we were now sitting atop the ridge that had been sheltering us from the winds. Sometimes the high clouds covered the sun, but the views were still splendid.

Lunch on the Ledge

Lunch on the Ledge

We had so far been traveling at my speed, but I knew that continuing at that rate would mean either not reaching the summit lookout site or hiking in the dark. So I encouraged the others, who are all much faster hikers, to go on ahead. We agreed that we would turn back at around 1:00, wherever we were. So they took off and I could generally keep them in sight as I padded along behind. When I got to the bottom of the very, very steep slope that leads up to the summit ridge at about ten to one, I could see that they had reached the ridge. At that point the trip was a success, by my lights, since that ridge is a seriously cool place to be. At lower levels you are limited (!!) to the stupendous views of Baker, Shuksan, Sefrit, Hannegan peak, the Ruth Creek Valley and Mount Challenger and the Pickett Range, but at the ridge you can see to the north to Tomyhoi, Winchester, Larrabee and the Border Peaks, Yellow Aster Butte and many mountains of southern BC. But I hoped they wouldn’t take our “deadline” too seriously, as they were within a fifteen or twenty minute walk of the summit.

Ruth Creek Valley from Goat Mountain

Ruth Creek Valley from Goat Mountain

As I put my head down and started plodding up the steep slope, using a climber’s (or bridesmaid’s) step, I was too close in against the hill to see the top. I was just killing time, with no real intention of getting anywhere when, at about 12:55, I saw an orange jacket heading down the trail toward me, and another figure following. I was a tiny bit annoyed that they had turned back so soon, but I didn’t have to coaxed to skip the slog up that slope and I turned around and headed down. I checked behind me from time to time and could never see all three, but that was no big surprise, since the trail had turns and valleys and was never fully visible.

When I got down to a lovely level spot with a good view up the trail I decided to wait and rest and take some pictures. As they got closer it finally dawned on me that the hikers I was watching were the young couple that had taken off from the trailhead just ahead of us that morning. Who could ever have imagined that there could be two orange jackets in the world! Shocking!

At this point I started back up the trail, not very energetically, and in just a few minutes saw all three figures up on the ridge, heading down. So I turned again and headed back down. We all gathered again at the lunch spot for an uneventful trip down the trail (which for some reason was several miles longer than it had been on the way up). By the time we got back to the car, the clouds had closed in and thickened, giving us a self-satisfied feeling that we had just barely sneaked in one more high country hike before the season slams shut.


Mount Sefrit from Goat Mountain


1 Comment »

  1. Al, thanks for the update. I love, absolutely love, that last picture. It’s outstanding. Even though my leg is better, I’m not sure I could even make a short hike this coming Thursday. I still have quite a bit of pain and three distinct lumps have shown that I took quite a hit along the shin, three times. The leg is still quite tender in those spots. I’ll know more tomorrow, but I might skip the hike, so don’t get your mouth all set for brownies!

    Comment by DJan — October 13, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

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