“Escape the rain…”
McCoy Peak (5856’, p1856')
Dark Divide area, South Washington Cascades
Via Rough Trail #283
June 16, 2012
Martin, Wendy, Teresa and Franklin
Weather: Hot muggy, clear skies, clouds surrounding areas
The weatherman was having a heck of a time with predictions. Rain was predicted highly all over the mid to northern Cascades. A little low energy from a 57 hour work week I was tempted to stay home. Martin had an idea to head south to avoid the potential rain. McCoy south of Randle WA would fit the bill. McCoy 5856, is the 159th most prominent peak in the state. Go figure… the real McCoy. I’ve been hiking mainly up north and it would be nice to see what the peaks were like further south. Oh, and a great distraction to keep me from much needed yardwork.
How to get there
Driving directions: First find Randle… good
luck. Then from Randle, south 1 mile, left on 23 (Cispus
Road), in 8 miles turn right on 28 (Cispus Road) and
after 1 mile veer left on 29. Follow surprisingly we maintained FSRD 29
for 10 miles to spur 115, cross McCoy Creek and go LEFT on to spur 116 a
hundred feet or so to find the “Rough Trail #283 TH,
Morning looked great. Had the weather gurus missed again? Met Martin and Wendy for a carpool south (7a). This was going to be a long commute. Early morning roads were empty heading through South Park on Hwy 161. By Eatonville it was time for a necessary break. The normal route was detoured and our brief stop took us to Mill Pond Park (8:10a). A great chance to exercise and practice important scrambling skills. Root walking, shaky bridge crossing, rock wall climbing, glissading, log crossings. A lot goes into training and prep for these long and arduous trips. You don't get to see the experts training or the skill refreshing they do to keep in such fit shape. I was lucky to get a sneak peak at their top secret training grounds and a glimpse at the hard core tasks they go through to be prepared for their so called "easy hikes".
Martin practicing vegi belaying shaky bridge creek cross practice Wendy admiring Martin’s advance creek log crossing techniques
Spinning log –check out the beavers Glissade practice…
Hwy161 was closed south of Eatonville and redirected to Alder Cutoff Road to Hwy 7.
New reststop in Elbe
A left on 7 east to Elbe, then a right following 7 south to Morton. If you took away the new cars Morton looked like it could be the 50’s or 60’s. At Hwy 12 a left east to Randle. Now a right on Hwy 131 (Co road 9009). The road turned from paved to gravel (for more directions see above). At first potholes, then they were recently filled. As we headed south each road was well marked. And each creek marked, some even with elevation.
It’s Rough trail, not a rough trail
A little park spot on a narrow road at the trailhead (before 10a). The trail had a sign that said “rough trail no283”. It took me a bit to translate to the name of the trail and not a warning about the trail… I think… 10:10a we were off first flattish then steeply up a motorcycle rutted trail with a set of very large elk hoof prints.
Name or description?
The trail had not been used this season. We cleared braches and left puddles of sweat. Several breaks taking it easy to keep everyone together. It was a warm and highly humid day. More sweat that I have had in a long time. Luckily no bugs. After about a mile the steep switchbacky trail mellowed and at 1.3 miles a great view point on a rib. Our route up McCoy in our face.
Great view point at 1.3 muggy miles
Our route up McCoy
Another quick third of a mile brought us to the split in the trail (1.65m, 11:30a, c4400’). A good place for a snack.
Relaxing at the split in the trail on the ridge We stopped at the fork in the trail..
After 12 Martin and I continued descending the now snow covered trail a couple hundred feet to a flat basin, across covered creeks and up the north side of Bear Creek.
Crossing Bear Creek
The snow ended for a while then in a few hundred feet step kicking commenced. The humidity and my hacking for air left me to follow tracks as Martin blazed ahead. By 12:52 we were in an upper basin and by 1:00p we topped out on the dry summit ridge. South and below the summit an old lookout site and a benchmark.
McCoy BM and incinerated lookout debris
The highpoint was 50 or so feet north. After some peak browsing we both searched for a register. Maybe it was knocked off the ridge? Not even a sign of a cairn… I made an inconspicuous small cairn and left a pill bottle register.
Looking SW to Mt St Helens summit cairn in front of Mt St Helens
From the lookout site looking north to Rainier
Sunshine and views
Some more munchies and more peak browsing. We were surrounded by shrouded volcanoes. Cloud level seemed around 7-8k. Far north Goat Rocks and Mt Rainier covered in snow. Due SE behind Sunrise and Jumbo was Adams. Clocking southward was Hood and Jefferson and passing over Kirk and Shark Rocks was Badger Peak –Hmm, I need to do that one.
Kirk Shark Rocks Badger Peak
Oh and behind impressive Mt St Helens to the SW. We contemplated running the ridge north to Langille Peak (5372’, p287’). Only 2.4 miles north, but then there would be the descent and radioing windy to try to find us. Later I’d also see we’d have had a creek crossing and an über steep 400+ feet back up to the road…
Looking north along the ridge to Langille Peak
Nice warm relaxing, but people were waiting. We went down the ridge south to find the elk tracks again and a brief visit for views at the south rocky spire of a peak. Southwest the forest had burned and stopped at the ridge.
The burn on the SW side of the ridge the south false summit
SW rib from near south false summit SWW Ridge of McCoy
The west side was bare loose rock with some interesting spire ribs. We headed back and glissaded to the upper basin. Then worked SE through the steep snow covered woods plunge stepping and traversing back above the lower basin. Martin took the low route while I took the high route gaining the main trail several hundred feet above the trail split. Above the split in the trail is still snow covered.
From here it was just a long downhill trail walk. The motorcycle runnels that weren’t a bother coming up were a pain in the butt going down.
An uneventful trip, getting back to the car the rest of the group were lounging waiting.
Here kitty, kitty…
Driving out we had a few views of McCoy and the north running ridge. If we had run the ridge and dropped back to catch the road, there would have been a major stream crossing and several hundred feet of very steep hillside to attain the road. As I was looking out the side at the ridge, Wendy started yelling BEAR, BEAR! Then a correction, …”Cougar, COUGAR!” I whipped my head around, but missed seeing it cross the road in front of the car. Martin stopped the car and we both jumped out cameras in hand to zoom in on a parting shot. Not even a rush moving the huge cat was long gone. That did stop me from calling out, “here kitty, kitty…”
Thanks for reading and Happy Trails!
In: 2.7m, vert 3480+/-290, 3h10min
Out: 2.8, +100/-3190, 1h25min
tt: 5.5, +3580vert
Copyright 2012, FWB, all rights reserved