Forum Index > Trip Reports > Tailgunner, Wing, & Gunnshy (USGS Baring) 8/9-10/2014
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostTue Aug 19, 2014 12:09 am 
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Dicey & I camped on the high ridge between Tailgunner & Wing Peaks, and branched out to scramble those two peaks plus Gunnshy.

Highlights & Lowlights

Evil Hateful Bad:  Getting off route in horrid steep brush on the Gunn Peak climbers track on the way in.
Wonderful:   High camp on the ridge east of Tailgunner.
Poignant:  Airplane debris so near the top of Wing Peak; the plane almost made it.
Relaxing:  Swim for Matt and beer for Carla at camp between peaks.
Beautiful:   Reflections in the Tailgunner tarn.
Smoky Fiery:   Sunset views from Tailgunner.
Bright:   Full moon after sunset.
Still Beautiful:   Sunrise at the Tailgunner tarn.
Delightful:  Acres of granite slabs on the high basin approaching Gunnshy.
Still Bad:   Heat and deteriorated trail on the way back down the Gunn climbers track.

GPS Track (yellow lines are approach with packs, red lines are side trips to summits)
GPS Track (yellow lines are approach with packs, red lines are side trips to summits)

Saturday

Gunn Climber's Trail to Tailgunner Camp 5400 (10:20am – 2:35pm)

We approached via the Gunn Peak climbers' trail.  Unfortunately we lost the track in heavy thick ferns around 4400 feet, went too far out into the basin, and fought through heavy brush for 600 vertical feet before we angled back up onto the rocks and found the path again, which led up to the high ridge between Tailgunner & Wing peaks. 

The approach was hell, but the ridge was a hikers delight, a high crest of granite steps and green meadows, interspersed with laughing streams and smiling tarns.  This is the epitomy of why I like to camp high, to be able to stay in such fine places not just for a few moments, but through the whole overnight cycle of evening and night and morning.

Somewhere on the way up, showing the steep terrain that that the trail has to work through to get onto the good ridge crest.
Somewhere on the way up, showing the steep terrain that that the trail has to work through to get onto the good ridge crest.
Camp on Tailgunner Ridge
Camp on Tailgunner Ridge

Route details for the Gunn Peak climbers trail.  Take the Barclay Lake road to a branch road 0.1 miles before the Barclay trailhead.  Hike down the side road a couple hundred feet to a large pile of campfire debris, and turn right to find a faint track in the woods.  Follow the track another couple hundred feet to a log jam crossing Barclay Creek.  Then continue following the track through brushy flats in the in the creek valley, then steeply uphill.  Around 3900 feet, the trail turns right below cliffs to cross an intimidating steep gully.  Then continue following the track as it climbs uphill through rock bands with bits of steep scrambling, until finally it comes out to work through nicer meadows and slabs higher up.

Wing Peak 5760, 400P (3:00-5:10pm)

Wing is the 5760-foot point east of our camp, on the ridge that eventually leads to Merchant.

Wing was a very direct scramble.  Just follow the ridge to the base of Wing,then scramble up boulder fields and meadows to the summit block.  The summit is a brief 30-foot class 3-4 scramble.  We dropped slightly  around the left side of the summit block to get up at the farther corner.

Wing Peak from Tailgunner Ridge
Wing Peak from Tailgunner Ridge
Wing Peak summit block – route goes down around left side below the photo, then up the far left corner
Wing Peak summit block – route goes down around left side below the photo, then up the far left corner

Wing gives good profile views of both Merchant and Gunn Peaks.  This is some impressively steeply cut terrain.  Smoke haze obscured the views of Baring and other peaks eastward.

On the south side of Wing, you can see piles of weathered aluminum debris from an airplane crash.  The debris begins only 50 feet below the summit; that pilot came so close to clearing the top of the peak.

Carla looking over the edge at the Skykomish Valley
Carla looking over the edge at the Skykomish Valley
Me with the view to Townsend & Merchant Peaks
Me with the view to Townsend & Merchant Peaks
Gunnshy & Gunn Peaks
Gunnshy & Gunn Peaks
The ridge back to our camp and Tailgunner Peak
The ridge back to our camp and Tailgunner Peak
Airplane debris (hard to see in the sun glare, but pretty much everything that's not a square rock is pieces of aluminum)
Airplane debris (hard to see in the sun glare, but pretty much everything that's not a square rock is pieces of aluminum)

For our return, we scrambled back down to the ridge, then dropped a bit onto its north side, where we could follow a shallow basin of streams and snowfields back to camp.

Afternoon Interlude at Tailgunner Camp (5:10-6:30pm)

With time to spare, we each enjoyed an afternoon break in our own way. 

I went for a swim in a small tarn just below our camp.  It was good to swim in the water, feel clean and refreshed, and then have time to lie on a rock slab and dry out in the sunshine, without having to hurry immediately off to another destination.

Dicey sat on a rock bench above camp to enjoy a beer that she had stored in the creek earlier to cool off.

Swimming in the tarn below camp
Swimming in the tarn below camp
Beer on the rocks above camp
Beer on the rocks above camp

Sunset on Tailgunner Peak (aka Heybrook Ridge) 5842, 502P (6:30-9:00pm)

Tailgunner is the 5842-foot point west of our camp, which is also the eastern end of Heybrook Ridge.

Around 6:30pm we headed westward up to Tailgunner.  I wanted to watch sunset from the summit, so I cooked my dinner and some tea first and brought it along.  That made the pack even warmer on my back.

Going westward up the benches, we discovered that the Tailgunner tarns were just ten minutes above our camp (with some grassy meadows that would also have made a good but buggy camp).  Especially memorable is one calm shallow tarn that perches right on the south edge of the bench, with views looking out to Baring and Merchant.

Wing & Merchant reflected in the Tailgunner Tarn
Wing & Merchant reflected in the Tailgunner Tarn
Tailgunner tarns from above
Tailgunner tarns from above

We took the easy route to the summit by veering rightward to the col northeast of Tailgunner, then curving counterclockwise around up onto the summit, an easy class two walk along this line. 

Tailgunner summit, 7:21pm
Tailgunner summit, 7:21pm
Carla with her beverage
Carla with her beverage
Me with my beverage
Me with my beverage

Evening views:

Gunnshy
Gunnshy
Gunn
Gunn
Baring & Barclay Lake
Baring & Barclay Lake
Shadows of Gunn & Tailgunner creeping across Burley, Townsend, and Wing/Merchant,7:41pm
Shadows of Gunn & Tailgunner creeping across Burley, Townsend, and Wing/Merchant,7:41pm

Carla departed to descend before dark, while I stayed to watch the sunset.

The smoky air made a saffron haze of the Skykomish valley west of me.

The Sky Valley
The Sky Valley
Sunbeams across pinnacles west of us
Sunbeams across pinnacles west of us

Then colors deepened, while the moon rose over Merchant.

Merchant & Baring, 8:21pm
Merchant & Baring, 8:21pm
Gunn Alpenglow
Gunn Alpenglow
Merchant Alpenglow
Merchant Alpenglow
Sunset, 8:28pm
Sunset, 8:28pm
Moon over Merchant, 8:30pm
Moon over Merchant, 8:30pm

Lingering afterglow and waxing moonlight let me descend to camp sans headlight, with a brief stop at the reflecting tarn.

Late Reflection, 8:48pm
Late Reflection, 8:48pm

Night at Tailgunner Camp

The bright moon and warm evening encouraged lingering late over more tea and whiskey.

Moonlight shining through our various beverage containers
Moonlight shining through our various beverage containers
Big Dipper over Northeast Tailgunner (Point 5760), 9:45pm
Big Dipper over Northeast Tailgunner (Point 5760), 9:45pm

Sunday

Sunrise at Tailgunner Tarn

I got up early to watch sunrise at the reflecting tarn.

Foreglow in the Tailgunner Tarn, 5:37am
Foreglow in the Tailgunner Tarn, 5:37am
Another tarn at sunrise, 6:02am
Another tarn at sunrise, 6:02am
Early light on the north face of Baring
Early light on the north face of Baring
Tailgunner Sunrise Reflection, 6:09am
Tailgunner Sunrise Reflection, 6:09am

I hadn't planned to swim in the tarn, but the morning sun came up so warm and the lambent water looked so inviting that I couldn't resist.

Swimming in the morning glow
Swimming in the morning glow
Morning shadow drying off in the warm air
Morning shadow drying off in the warm air

Gunnshy 6218, 478P (7:30am – 1:15pm)

Gunnshy is the 6218-foot point northwest of Gunn.  (Beckey calls it Jumpoff Ridge, but Jumpoff Ridge has a separate 5280-foot high point farther north.)

For Gunnshy, we first followed vague bits of the Gunn climber's track up and down around the east side of NE Tailgunner to 5340-foot Gunn Col.  Actually we went a little higher past the col to bypass a rock band, then descended a couple hundred feet on unpleasant steep rocks and dirt to skirt below cliffs into the large basin that lies south and east off Gunnshy. 

In the basin, we ascended a few hundred feet on talus and meadows, and then hit scramblers paradise – acres of smooth curving granite slabs accented with mounds of blooming heather, scattered lines of trees, patches of snow and small streams.  It was a delight just to stroll across the fine glacier-smoothed granite from one end of the basin to the other. 

Descending into the Gunnshy basin
Descending into the Gunnshy basin
Glorious fields of granite and heather ahead of us
Glorious fields of granite and heather ahead of us
Carla walking the acres of slabs of Gunnshy basin
Carla walking the acres of slabs of Gunnshy basin

At the far end, we ran along the ridge crest to the summit, which looked like it might be steep, but was easy.  The only drawback was the very tip top of the summit, which was covered in hordes of flying ants engaged in some kind of ant orgy.  However, just a few dozen feet from the summit were fine granite benches to sit on.  The summit register itself was a plastic tube containing an Oberto package, with a single page that had just a few signatures.

Carla on the crest below Gunnshy summit
Carla on the crest below Gunnshy summit
Me near Gunnshy summit
Me near Gunnshy summit
Carla braving swarms of flying ants to fetch the register
Carla braving swarms of flying ants to fetch the register
Relaxing away from the ants
Relaxing away from the ants

Smoky air obscured almost all of the mountains, but Gunnshy did give a good view of the complete local cluster of peaks, since it sits out on the west edge of the group:  Townsend, Gunn, Merchant, Wing, Tailgunner, Grotto, & Baring.

The local cluster of peaks: Townsend, Gunn, Merchant, Wing, Grotto, Baring, Tailgunner
7 labels
The local cluster of peaks: Townsend, Gunn, Merchant, Wing, Grotto, Baring, Tailgunner

For our return, we dropped farther down the basin in order to curve by the head of Gunn Lake and then come up easier terrain from the head of the lake to Gunn Col.  Along the way, we tried a shortcut through a band of trees at 5070 feet, but got cut off by cliffs.  Later review of photos showed we could have gone through if we'd angled up to the next higher bench.  So we hopped down more rocks to the 4770-foot lake.

I went for a quick swim in the lake, which I'd wanted to do anyway, since it's a rarely visited lake.

Then it was moderate terrain backup to Gunn Col and back to camp.

Descending to Gunn Lake
Descending to Gunn Lake
More boulder-scrambling on the way down
More boulder-scrambling on the way down
Swimming in Gunn Lake
Swimming in Gunn Lake
On the way back up, steep end of Gun with mountain goats at the col
On the way back up, steep end of Gun with mountain goats at the col

Exit (1:50-4:35pm)

Hiking down, we were able to follow the tread all the way, but the trail seemed even steeper and nastier on the way down.  It's condition seems to have deteriorated since last time I was here to climb Gunn in 2005.  The heat on the south-facing slope was somewhat debilitating also.  At least the creek provided a last chance to rinse off just before the car.

Stats:
Approach 2.4 miles, 3330 gain
Wing 0.8 miles, 540 gain
Tailgunner 1.1 miles, 460 gain
Gunnshy 3.9 miles, 2090 gain
Exit 2.3 miles, 140 gain
Total 10.5 miles, 6560 gain


--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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b00
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b00
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 7:19 am 
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awesome pics! :>)
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BarbE
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BarbE
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 8:19 am 
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Day-night-sunrise reflection shot  up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
Next best thing to being there!
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iron
getting old



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iron
getting old
PostTue Aug 19, 2014 8:52 am 
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ant orgies are never fun.

--------------
man, you go through life, you try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch 'em in the face, and for what?

--- moe sizlack
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Stefan-K
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 11:00 am 
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ha, fern field - -
that annual cycle of lush growth is totally worth getting off route in my humble opinion...

great pics! 
love that area
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Riverside Laker
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 11:22 am 
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Are the berries ripening yet? Best berries I've ever found up there!
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Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot



Joined: 30 Jan 2007
Posts: 4175 | TRs
Location: Shoreline
Matt
Tea, Earl Grey, Hot
PostTue Aug 19, 2014 11:30 am 
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I also found great crops of berries there on a previous trip a bit later in August.

This time they were still a few weeks early.  We found occasional ripe berries, but only in the warmest south-facing slopes.

--------------
“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Redwic
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Redwic
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 12:19 pm 
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This is a trip I have been thinking about, for a while.

Thank you for sharing.
up.gif  up.gif  up.gif

--------------
"Revolutions are not overnight. The heightist mindset has minimally a 100 year head start. Eventually the climbing community will embrace geocaching." -Paul Michelson
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filbert
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filbert
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 12:32 pm 
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Beautiful!  Gotta find time for this one.

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With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.
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Stefan
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 1:27 pm 
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Those are some beautiful pictures.  Well done!  Looks like fun!

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Art is an adventure.
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contour5
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contour5
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 4:40 pm 
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Looks really nice up there.
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cartman
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 9:53 pm 
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Man, did you score on those tarn shots--perfect reflections.  Very nice.

That Gunn trip was last weekend Aug 2005, another beautiful day up there.  Great berries.
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Magellan
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 11:18 pm 
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Lovely story and pictures, Matt.  up.gif
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Michael Lewis
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Michael Lewis
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 11:57 pm 
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Quote:
Moonlight shining through our various beverage containers
Moonlight shining through our various beverage containers

would you call that, moon shine? hockeygrin.gif

Beautiful photos. I like the tarns especially. Someday maybe I'll get the guts to go up there.
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puzzlr
Mid Fork Rocks



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puzzlr
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PostWed Aug 20, 2014 12:36 am 
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I can't believe you ended up in the middle of that horrid basin. It was bad just looking at it from above and imagining ...

Your pictures are so great we should make a calendar just from this trip. I love those rocky meadows on the ridge around Gunn.

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Mid Fork Rocks • flickr
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Forum Index > Trip Reports > Tailgunner, Wing, & Gunnshy (USGS Baring) 8/9-10/2014
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