Decided to take a last minute trip up to Gothic Basin earlier this month. Took some neat pictures but never got around to putting together a trip report. Over margaritas that weekend was quasi-accused of being a lurker by a regular poster. You know who you are . Not a totally unfounded accusation, though, so maybe this can help upgrade my status.
Have been up to Gothic Basin a few times over the years and really enjoy it for all the rugged rock formations and scenic Foggy Lake. Had gone up earlier this year, in August, for a day trip on one of those kind of days where it is foggy/cloudy in the morning with the promise of clearing in the afternoon. Well on that day, it stayed socked in, drizzly rain and I could barely see the lakes, much less the surrounding peaks. So knew I wanted to get back again. I had gotten up to the top Del Campo last year and so was hoping to scramble to up Gothic Peak this go around.
Because this was a last minute trip, was too late to solicit any company other than the dog. But she was up for it, bouncing off the walls once she saw the pack come out of the garage. Also because it was a last minute I got a late start, getting to the trail head around 6 pm. With this late start I figured I would be ending the hike and setting up camp in darkness, but since I was familiar with the trail I knew it would be manageable.
That afternoon had been nice and sunny with a good forecast for Saturday. But on the drive out the Mountain Loop Hwy, as I approached the Monte Cristo road, a few rain clouds had formed up high and I could see it was raining above 4K ft. I wasnít sure what to expect as I headed up so I just made sure my raingear was easily accessible.
Walking the Monte Cristo road isnít thrilling but is easy going. There is a road washout and a newly created by-pass trail. You can negotiate the road washout fairly easily. It is rather clayish so would only try it if it is dry. Itís rather impressive to scramble through all that destruction. Was also impressive to see how the river has changed at the bridge crossing. There sure must have been some wild water and debris coming through there last November. After leaving the road and heading up the trail in about Ĺ mile there is a small trail washout. It is not bad and was easy to get through.
Still no rain at this point, but was sweating pretty good, trying to make good time and beat darkness. At round 4K ft it started to mist. That wasnít so bad, but the brush was soaking wet from the earlier rain. This is where the trail gets narrow so I was starting to get pretty wet and debated whether to don the rain gear . But wanted to keep moving so I didnít bother and figured I would probably get too hot with the gear on anyway. Darkness kept falling and by 8:15 pm I finally turned on the head lamp. Was missing the long days of summer. It wasnít too bad though as I made it into the basin and the first small lake at 8:30 pm. From being up there before I was able to find the camp site I had in mind amidst all the boulder slabs. At this point I was soaking wet from all the brush, maybe I should have donned the rain gear ? Anyway, changed into some dry clothes since it was starting to really cool off. Set up the tent, ate dinner and was sacked out by 10pm.
Felt a bit cool that night which made for just an ok nightís sleep. Woke up in the morning to see the bit of condensation in the tent frozen. Yikes, didnít expect that, freezing level at 5K ft? Now I was really missing summer . But the sun finally worked its way into the basin and on Gothic Peak .
That warmed things up and enable me to string out my still wet clothes from yesterday with a make shift clothes line, not too many trees in that basin.
While chowing down some oatmeal and coffee Casey took up a lookout position by two large cairns. She had positioned herself there the night before, too. I donít know what it was about that spot?
Soon we were off to wander the basin and head towards Gothic Peak. First made it up to Foggy Lake, crossed the outlet and scrambled on loose rock and climber trail towards the peak.
At a certain point the way becomes more broad rock ledge that slopes downward slightly. But it is not slippery with good footing and places to hold on to with your hands when needed. Casey did well and kept right up with me all along.
Before long I was right below the summit. Had gone at a leisurely pace and so this was about 1 Ĺ hours from my camp. For the last 50 of so feet of elevation it is really a hands and feet scramble, but good holds and nothing too exposed. (A much easier scramble than Del Campo.) This was the point where the pooch couldnít follow, though. So I quickly scrambled up, tagged the top
and took some pictures while Casey whimpered because I was out of her sight . I kept up a dialogue of encouraging words while she couldnít see me to let her know I wasnít ditching her and she finally relaxed under a tree.
Views from the top were awesome . Marvelous colors on all the rock in the basin, plunging cliffs and valley to the south, great views of the surrounding mountains.
Was even able to see across Puget Sound to the Olympics.
The way down was smooth, basically retraced my steps.
While part way down met two other guys headed up. The only ones headed up Gothic Peak on this sunny day.
Took a little detour across some snow patches so the dog could chase snowballs and lay in the snow.
Too soon we were back at the campsite. Casey was big time tired and didn't even finish her lunch before falling asleep.
It was here that I realized I had lost my hat somewhere along the way . Then I remembered taking it off at the summit to take pictures. I sure wasnít going to go back up there for it. While packing up I saw the 2 guys I met earlier heading down. And sure enough they had found my hat. I had written it off and was a nice surprise to get it back .
The way down way down was much more pleasant, not getting soaked by the brush this time.
Am glad to have gotten up there in good weather this year. If considering going up to Gothic Basin, donít let the USFS reports of the road and trail washout deter you. The reports sound worse than it is.
I liked reading about how you handled the summit with your dog along. I also hike with a dog but since I've had her (the last two summers) I haven't done any scrambling that she hasn't been able to handle. I may have to try something like Gothic. She knows the "wait" command, but I fear she would freak and totally lose her impulse control once she sees me disappear from view. Some training will be in order, I suppose...
-------------- It's never too late to have a happy childhood
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