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Alden Ryno
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Location: Richland, WA
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PostTue Jun 23, 2020 4:59 pm 
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Lake Mountain, 06/19-20/2020

Approximate stats: 28 miles, 9,500' gain.
Trailhead: Monument Creek Trailhead
Wilderness: Pasayten

Hannah and I set off from the Monument Creek Trailhead at 5:45 PM and cruised along the practically flat 3.5-4 miles to arrive at Eurkea Creek around 7 PM.

Where we crossed, on the far side. Note the rope
Where we crossed, on the far side. Note the rope

In order to handle the crossing I had brought a meager packraft and rope so that we had a few options if we felt that crossing freely was outside of our comfort zone. I decided that the water was swift enough to warrant a rope for Hannah so I towed it across the creek with me. I fell on my butt a bit over halfway but was out of the heaviest flow section so I stood right back up. Once across I attempted to throw the rope to Hannah several times and eventually got it into her hands. We each tied off our ends to trees on the banks and she came across with relative ease. In retrospect, we should have only attempted a crossing farther down the creek where it was a bit wider, not right where the old bridge was (narrow means shorter bridge but higher flow rate).

Once across we set out up the lovely Monument Creek Trail once more. Alas, we soon lost it and just wandered up the slopes along a rightward ascent path. We did eventually join with the trail and were able to follow it, off and on, up much of the side of the hill to the ridge. There are TONS of cairns to guide climbers, so keeping an eye out for them was key to not stopping and consulting navigation too frequently.


By 945 it was getting dark enough to warrant headlamps and around 1015 we began scoping for flat sections of earth to camp. Our initial plans were to get to Lake of The Woods around midnight (LOL) , but that was blown out hard as the ascent took much ligner than expected. The I hoped to get us to a more open area around 5,800' where maps indicated flatter terrain, thus easily viable camping options. By 1030 we were at 5,300' and decided to find a spot near there. We found a great area on the right (east) side of the ridge and made camp; she in her tent, me in my Helium Bivy. It began to rain at 11pm, as forecasted. I was VERY glad to have my bivy sack even though some moisture did seep through due to constant rain until 3 or 4 AM. I woke up practically every hour through the night... Not much sleep. By the time 5 AM rolled around, the rain had stopped and light was in the sky, through clouds.


We were on the move moments after 6 AM and bushwhacked lovely, wet ie alder on our way up the ridge. We eventually reach the flatter terrain around 5,800' and lo and behold, tons of prime sites to camp. From here until 6,400-6,500' when we left the ridge, the trail was terrific and easy going. I swear that I could make out some old road beds, but I haven't seen anything to substantiate that
Perhaps just old, wide trail.

Hannah found a few morels, including this beast. We staged it on the trail for her to take on the way out.
Hannah found a few morels, including this beast. We staged it on the trail for her to take on the way out.

We began the 2.5 mile traverse beneath Pistol Peaks to Pistol Pass, which we reached at 0900.  Along Thai traverse we passed 5 different running water sources, however, these are only early season flows since they are never mentioned in August reports (all snow is long melted by then).

I really enjoyed much of the trail from camp. If only access across and up from the creek was better, then I could see this as a pote trial favorite place. I just love ridges with trails.

Pistol Pass view of Lake Mountain and the Lake of The Woods basin.
Pistol Pass view of Lake Mountain and the Lake of The Woods basin.

I kicked good, short steps (only microspikes) into the snow from 7,100' Pistol Pass until about 6,600' in the basin below when snow became intermitted and we began to traverse northwest. We had to return and I wanted some good steps already made so I could just stairmaster my way out of the basin lickity-split.

Lake of The Woods
Lake of The Woods

At the low point of the basin, we found the trail and dollowed it easily to Lake of The Woods at 10 am. We gathered water for our ascent up Lake and stayed on snow much of the time until we reached a rock field to ascend and tried to stay on rock for nearly all of our ascent to the summit. Like a dumb dumb, I didn't take pictures of our ascent gully/ridge.

Some of our rock moves were less than scrupulous, however, I knew that I'd be kicking steps down the snow on the way down so I didn't mind some scrambly excitement. We were directly on Lake's east ridge for much of the time and slowly traversed left as the mountain fell out from beneath us on our right.

Nearing the summit
Nearing the summit
Summit views!!
Summit views!!

Gaia always has my elevation 50-100' low.

We attained the summit minutes prior to noon in a sea of clouds. Being the cloud deck hovered around 7,400', we had no views on the 8,371' summit.

I turned to Hannah and asked, "Big decision time: do we continue to Monument ong our planned ridge route or go back to camp?" It had taken us 6 hours from camp to the summit and we didn't plan to spend two nights, though we should have. Ideally, we should have moved camp to Lake of The Woods, but we didn't so we were forced to make a decision. We turned, knowing it was a long haul out and we didn't want to cross the creek in the dark.

Descending out of the clouds, the basin slowly became visible
Descending out of the clouds, the basin slowly became visible

We retraced our route down the summit block for about 400 vertical feet before veering slightly right of where we ascended. Hannah had lost one of her poles on the way up and we watched it slide at two inches per second down the mountain for a few hundred feet, but our descent route brought us right next to it! I made a 50' lateral traverse in the snow and retrieved it before beginning plunge stepping down the mountain all the way back to the tarn. I slipped twice but was able to arrest easily in the soft snow with a four point stance.

Such a beautiful arena
Such a beautiful arena
The never-noted tarn above Lake of The Woods
The never-noted tarn above Lake of The Woods
Lake of The Woods
Lake of The Woods

We meandered back to Lake of The Woods for a brief rest and snack, then quickly made our way across the basin and up to Pistol Pass by 3pm. Those steps certainly did come in handy! Just as we breached the trees below the pass the sun arrived! The first direct sunlight of the trip... Boy was it toasty.

Back at the pass
Back at the pass
Will the summit emerge??
Will the summit emerge??

At Pistol Pass we both changed back into shorts and took off our spikes and began the long albeit easy trek back to camp. We reached camp at 530pm and were on the move at 6.

Robinson Massif and Beauty in front of it.
Robinson Massif and Beauty in front of it.

+Devoid of much life

Encroaching storms
Encroaching storms
The only view with both Lake and Monument out!
The only view with both Lake and Monument out!
A rainbow with sunshowers
A rainbow with sunshowers
Views south over the Lost River
Views south over the Lost River
Brushy McBrushBrush
Brushy McBrushBrush

We were able to follow the cairned Monument Creek Trail down all the way to the creek whole staying on route for more than 90% of the time.

We greeted the swift waters of the creek at 8pm and I asked Hannah who she wanted to cross first. I went, using the rope as downstream support and making a shuffle across. It was more swift yet my crossing was smoother this time.

Unfortunately for Hannah, she slipped on a rock just as she was starting her crossing and received a nice cut in her foot. I could see in her face that she wasn't going to make it across her, it was just too much for her. I'm a stocky sack of potatoes at barely 5'8" and 200 pounds, but she is MUCH thinner.

I blew up my packraft and tied the rope through it but it was just too swift here to cross without paddles. I'm not sure if she has paddling experience, but paddles is something I should have brought. This would actually be a great section to raft (I believe that Eric G. did it in his Pasayten Extravaganza).

We moved downstream  where the creek was wider and less maximally swift, then spent a while troubleshooting. I thought of bringing the raft across and outing her on it and walking it across, but I didn't want to lose her downstream on the raft or have her spill out of it.

We thought of waiting until morning, however, that's why we left early in the first place; to no do that. She wasn't in a good spot mentally, understandably. This is to knock her, AT ALL. She was awesome.

Eventually she decided to trudge across with the rope in hand and me on the other side of the rope, taking out the slack. I let her know that if she fell to hold on and I'd pull like he'll to get her over. And that's happened.
She was between half and two-thirds of the way over when she slipped and I towed the line. She drifted a bit downstream but land on some roots on the shore which we got her out of.

Immediately I gave her dry pants and a long sleeve and offered a jacket. By now, it was getting dark, around 945 pm. She said that she was good to go albeit shaken and honestly terrified.

We began the 4ish miles back to the car where we arrived at 1130pm.

We were reckless crossing the creek at this time of year, let alone late in the day. We know this. We're fortunate that we're perfectly okay.

In retrospect, the best option, IF crossing, is to come to term with getting soaked. Just floating across with pack on the front, per the JeffPod's report, is likely the best option.

I grew up in rivers and streams both whitewater rafting and swimming. As a result, I understand what to do if I fall or get swept into the water; I would have been okay, mentally, had that happened. I don't know the abilities or all of the experiences of others. It's my lapse in judgement both letting and encouraging someone else to cross Eureka Creek.
I'd like to apologize to Hannah for that; I'm sorry that I put you in that situation. Despite knowing the creek would be swift, you didn't deserve to be subjected to that. While we've talked about it and your good, I still feel responsible.

Overall, we had a great trip and while we didn't get both peaks, we did quite a bit of work in the 28 hours that we were out there.
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kitya
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PostTue Jun 23, 2020 5:34 pm 
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great trip, but the mushroom in the photo is definitely not morel. it looks like Gyromitra esculenta to me.
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Alden Ryno
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Joined: 04 Jun 2019
Posts: 55 | TRs
Location: Richland, WA
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PostTue Jun 23, 2020 7:10 pm 
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Thank you!
I know absolutely nothing about mushrooms, so I was repeating what she said smile.gif
I'll let her know!
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Bluebird
suffering optional



Joined: 22 Jan 2014
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suffering optional
PostTue Jun 23, 2020 7:35 pm 
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Agree with kitya on the mushroom ID.
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zephyr
aka friendly hiker



Joined: 21 Jun 2009
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Location: West Seattle
zephyr
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aka friendly hiker
PostTue Jun 23, 2020 8:51 pm 
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Alden Ryno wrote:
I grew up in rivers and streams both whitewater rafting and swimming. As a result, I understand what to do if I fall or get swept into the water; I would have been okay, mentally, had that happened. I don't know the abilities or all of the experiences of others. It's my lapse in judgement both letting and encouraging someone else to cross Eureka Creek.

I'd like to apologize to Hannah for that; I'm sorry that I put you in that situation. Despite knowing the creek would be swift, you didn't deserve to be subjected to that. While we've talked about it and your good, I still feel responsible.


This is a statement of strength, compassion, and wisdom.  I am thankful that Hannah made it back safely.  Sounds like you two made a great team.  Thanks for sharing your adventure with us, A.R. ~z
.
.
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Michael Lewis
Taking a nap



Joined: 27 Apr 2009
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Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
Michael Lewis
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Taking a nap
PostWed Jun 24, 2020 9:34 am 
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In an age where perfection is expected I'm glad you shared this. Unfortunate as it was, you saved a life.
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