“Over the washouts and through the windfall…””
McLeod Mt (8099', p4579')
Peak 7670 (7670’, p430’)
Goat Peak area, Mazama, FSRd 52-500
May 19, 2013
Weather: Sun, 50-60s
MAP: USGS 7.5min McLeod Mt
After yesterdays’ scramble fest to North Craggy we were looking at something close by and less challenging. We had camped in the Ballard camp area, so morning started with an early drive up Hart Pass road to see what conditions were like for future reference. Some loose rock in a few places, a little messy at Dead Horse Point and we could drive within three miles of Harts Pass before being stopped by 18” of firm snow. It would be awhile before getting up that area.
Snow stopped us 3 miles from the pass Dead Horse Point
Hardest part is finding the start
Our plan was to hike at least one peak, maybe more in the Goat peak area. Choice #1 would be McLeod Mt. We had a trip report from Fay with good info. Should be a snap. Drove east on Goat Creek road looking for FSR 62 per the TR. Oops, that’s 52. No sign saying Cub Creek road, just a small “52”. The gravel road wound up the valley leaving the creek. The road was in good condition with only a little bit of debris to dodge. Past branch 5225 (to Goat Peak) and in four more miles a left on branch 500. The start of the road was in poor condition. Glad we had a higher clearance vehicle. Then in about a mile the road cut in the steep wall had a major washout. I went through it. A cut taking out most the road and not looking stable. Stupid move. It would haunt me all day, all day. The road became better as it opened to the clearcut/burnt area. At long creek it looked like the end of the road. High clearance… no problem… Carla thought it looked like a commercial. Up the road a log blocking the road. Not to be deterred and thinking we had miles to go we cut the 12” log with our little saw and towed it out of the way. Soon another log to lever a split in the road, we went down and crossed a creek and moved yet another log.
The road winding toward Goat Peak from just after Long Creek crossing
The road was not in a great condition and we soon hit snow. Right elevation, but something was not right. Some serious map scrutinizing showed we’d passed where we should have stopped by several miles –Oops! Back tracking we found the last hour of road clearing was not necessary. We backtracked to where we had crossed Long Creek.
So… and where are we
Laughing at the über late start (11:25a) we followed an old road with some cut logs and many piles of cow offerings on the east side of long creek.
Heading up through the clearcut and burn
Much log crawling and weaving as we went directly north to a saddle in the ridge (11:57a, 0.7m, c5630). But… what saddle? Where were we? Searching on the map we saw that we were not on the route Fay had used, and we’d not started at the same spot, and… we were on a different ridge. Now we knew were we were. Looked like in a good place. A long gentle sloping ridge rising NW to the ridge west of McLeod summit. We cut across an open meadow and followed the ridge proper on a trail that wound its way on either side of a cut ridge swathe. About 5900’ patches of snow started. Dodging to dry when possible it was soon solid snow. Barely firm enough to stay on top due to snowmo packing. An hour up the ridge and we hit the north running ridge at c7000’ (1.9m).
The upper ridge flattens out at c7000’
Sunshine and views
Finally views, a sneak view of McLeod to the right and another peak on the left. Both looked a long ways off. Veering off the snowmo and goat track I’d posthole. The track, though difficult to see was the best route, where ever it’d lead. Twenty-five minutes of snow, larch, and views to the ridge saddle between Peak 7670 and McLeod (2.5m, 1:20a, c7240). Now I was sinking, postholing to the crotch at times. Some dodging to find shallower snow, hmmm, maybe I should put on gators…
East… the ridge to McLeod
To the right it still looked like a long ways to McLeod summit. Luckily, more melted out rock than snow. We headed up a bulge on the ridge to McLeod. Across a flat, up a scramble, a patch of snow to cross crotch deep. Far below in the burn area was a shine like a mirror reflecting. It was the windscreen of the car. Interesting to see the road we’d driven too far upon and where we had turned around.
Far below, the road and the car
A little more up and we were there (3.1m, 2:05p, 8099’). All that and just a nice walkup. A small dollop of snow on the summit –enough for Carla to cool here summit beverage.
Summit reg and proof of summit -ladybugs
The sun was out, a slight wind and great views for a relaxing summit break. Looking around, we knew it was the summit –lady bugs, Benchmark and it was all downhill from here.
McLeod Summit pano
The summit view was great. Nice to spot and name the Pasayten Peaks (Robinson to Trailblazer…).
Pasaytens… Lake to Rampart Ridge
Some dark clouds casting moving shadows across the ridges and larch filled basins. Similar to looking down from many peaks, I never tire of the play of shadows.
We left the summit at 2:40, down to the saddle (3.9m, 3:14, 7250’), then up veering left around cliffy areas and trying to find snow firm enough to support steps.
West to peak 7670
Hmmm, gators –nah, don’t want to stop and boots were already filled with snow. The ridge heading west was very picturesque compared to the McLeod ridge. Rock, contouring snow, larch, evergreens… all framed by a dark dramatic cloud above. Stepping from snow to rock and back seemed to be the crux. Didn’t want to fall into a deep hole between rocks.
A steep section of rock and around a very impressive chasm of a gulley. The summit was surrounded by short trees (7670’, 4.2m, 3:35p) and separated from a shorter summit west by another impressive gap. Shear rock and a drop of several thousand feet (at least felt like it).
Peak 7670 and the false summit across the chasm
With wet feet, we didn’t hang on the summit too long. Great views to soak in, then time to descend. Walking was postholing, luckily even low angle glissade was the call.
Back down the east slope of 7670.
Fay mentioned the summit ridge basin was beautiful. We both agreed with her. There were melted out snow machine tracks in abundance. We’d seen tracks also on the dirt of the road. I wonder how long ago and how much snow was on the road when they came up last. The descent was scenic and went by quickly. Past the low ridge saddle we aimed direct at the car down a meadow, then into the burn much tree crawling and dodging. At Long creek we exited the clogged road on the east of the creek all the way to the road (6.9m, 5:00p).
The drive out was a little hair raising at the washout. Carla got out and saw that even with riding up on the side as high as possible, there was only a foot of room to spare. There is no way I’d drive past that point again until repaired.
The day was full of adventure. Fun when things take some figuring and not a simple drive to a TH and hike. Even with a mellow hike to finish the weekend, it felt like more adventure than most trips.
Thanks for reading, and happy trails,
Stats: 6.9m RT, +/-3652vert, 5h25m
Copyright 2013, FWB, all rights reserved