Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
Joined: 29 Jan 2007
Posts: 4243 | TRs
|After posting this year's report for larches and peakbagging on the west end of American Ridge, I realized I never posted last year's report for the east end of the ridge...
Dates: October 27-28, 2019
Destination: American Ridge - Goat 6473, Peak 6197, Peak 6340, Peak 6260
Party: Matt, Carla
We went to American Ridge in order to see western larches, camp high on a ridge crest, and tag multiple nearby summits.
Mostly we were impressed by the western larches, especially in contrast to our previous experience with alpine larches:
- As we had hoped, they had turned later in the year, still showing good color in late October.
They grow at much lower elevations, starting right from trailhead elevation at 3200 feet.
They grow all mixed with other conifers, rather than in separate stands. Hiking through the forest, they provide regular beacons of bright color amid the darker firs and pines.
They grow big! Some of them looked more liked ponderosa pines, stretching high overhead atop large straight trunks.
The American Ridge larches are surprisingly far west. It just seemed strange to see larches and Mt. Rainier in the same view.
Itinerary: Well call this the reversed Pleasant Goat Loop, with a further American extension.
On Day 1, we hiked up the Goat Peak trail then followed the ridge south to camp on an open crest about a half mile south of the Pleasant Valley junction. On Day 2, we made a side trip further south along the ridge to tag Peaks 6197, 6340, and 6260. Then we hiked down the Pleasant Valley trail and followed the riverside trail back to our car.
The view from Point 6197. Goat Peak is at upper right, and the Pleasant Valley trail follows the larchy ridge in the middle of the photo.
American Ridge GPS Track
Goat Peak Trailhead to Goat Peak (9:45am 1:30pm)
It was cold at the trailhead (27 degrees) and we were concerned to notice that the riverside larches had lost all their needles. But everything improved as we ascended widening views, warmer temperatures, and more colorful trees. We had lunch on the rocky former lookout summit of Goat Peak.
Tall larches mixed with pines and firs
lots of larches on the far side of the ridge
more hiking beneath tall larches
Carla on Goat Peak
Looking west along American Ridge to Rainier
Goat Peak to American Ridge Camp (2:00 3:00pm)
After Goat, we hiked the trail west and camped on an open high point at 6100 feet, about half a mile west of the Pleasant Valley junction. There was just enough thin snow that I could refill our pot by industriously scraping it off the meadow grass.
Happy tree snow along the trail
Looking across at Fifes Peak
Carla at camp
Evening skies beyond Bumping Lake, Adams, and Goat Rocks
Goat TH to Goat to Camp 6100: 5.5 miles, 3610 gain , 790 loss, 5:15 hours
American Ridge peaks 6340, 6260, 6197 (10:00am 3:00pm)
In the morning, we slept in till the sun warmed our tent. To bag more peaks and explore more of the ridge, we trotted southwest along the trail to visit Peaks 6340 and 6260, and then Peak 6197 in our way back.
Looking south toward Buffalo Hump and Nelson Ridge
Lenticulars on Rainier
Just cruising along the high meadow trails
Stats: 7.8 miles, 2520 gain & loss.
Camp to TH via Pleasant Valley Lake Trail (3:40 6:25pm)
We exited via the Pleasant Valley trail, which followed a ridge of larches back down to the American River, then followed the riverside trail two miles back to the Goat Mtn trailhead.
Heading down the ridge alongside Pleasant Valley Lake Creek.
Racing the shadows from the adjacent ridge
Larches catching light above the shadows
Carla descending with Fifes across the valley
Mix of cedar, pine, larch, and fir
Tall trees catching the last light overhead
Hiking a carpet of gold needles along the river.
Exit stats: 5.8 miles, 140 gain, 2960 loss
Trip total: 19.1 miles, 6270 gain
As beacons mountains burned at evening. J.R.R. Tolkien