Six years ago I followed the Basalt Ridge Trail up near Garland Peak. This was my first hike into a more remote area and the Glacier Peak Wilderness drew me in. I went home with the image of Clark Mountain and the Walrus Glacier stuck in my mind. I've been bagging peaks ever since and have summited most of the peaks that surrounded me that day, except Old Gib Mountain.
The trail to the Estes Butte Lookout site is really nice. There are some blowdowns on top of the ridge but an agile person will make it through the worst of these in ten minutes. Continuing north beyond the lookout site, the trail drops and there are more blowdowns along the way. The summit of Estes Butte is great and has amazing views. About one hour travel from the lookout.
From here, it is almost three miles to Old Gib. The trail is very scenic. It disappears at times, but it's a ridge; easy. A meaty cairn marks where the trail drops into the forest to go around the peak. Wanting the summit, I followed a good game trail upward along the ridge and then traversed below some rocky bits before regaining the ridge. There's this blocky section with good ledges. Really enjoyable. The rest is easy to the summit, all of this was class 2.
Going back the along the ridge was my original plan, but that would mean another ten miles with more gain. It was decently hot and I was out of water so I went downhill, following the sandy slope beneath the summit into a dry, blocky gully. This went easily for about 2000 feet.
I saw no sign of the trail where it crossed the gully. Soon enough there was water and then the rock got slick. I left the gully at 4200 when the brush was getting bad. Into the forest to bushwhack the rest of the way to the road. Just a six mile walk back to my car. Some ladies from Leavenworth picked me up along the way, saving me the last mile-and-a-half.
Very nice route. I did an in an out to Old Gib via Estes Butte a couple years ago and enjoyed it very much. Could use a bit of brushing in the low saddle between the lookout site and Estes Butte proper but it's in otherwise pretty good shape.
If you are referring to the road from Chiwawa River road to the Phelps Creek trailhead, it is always rutty but is generally fairly wide. The ruts can be negotiated and if a car bottoms out at least the roadbed is dirt, not bedrock, so unless one is driving too fast any ' hits' should be non- damaging.
The route from the saddle west of the Carne Mountain lookout site south to Old Gib was decent as of three years ago. But unless you did an out and back you would need to ask someone for a ride from one end to another.
-------------- Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
Fond memories. I used to do solo volunteer trail work on the section of trail from the base of Old Gib to where it regains the ridge on its way to Estes Butte. My work was somewhat hopeless but enough to earn me a volunteer Forest Pass every year (late 90s). I did it for about 8 years. I don't think they allow solo volunteer trail work anymore.
Sure is nice and lonesome on that unmaintained and rugged section. Good potential grizzly habitat.
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