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John Guilford's Hikes

Mt. Persis on 1992-06-24

Date: 1992-06-24

Location: Mt. Persis

People: (including myself): Jay Wardle and Joe Tarantino

			My Alt.	Real Alt.
Start:		9:45	2600	2600
Ridge:		3:40	4840	4900
Leave:		4:05
Out:		8:20	2720	2600
This was originally planned to be a climb up Mt. Persis with a traverse to Mt. Index and a descent via Lake Serene.  Ha! Instead of the "easy and scenic" hike that Beckey describes, it turned out to be a man-killer all day Cascade bushwhack. 

We got a later start than we had planned, but got the cars arranged and were ready to start by 9:45.  The trail to Lake Serene isn't marked and the road doesn't go nearly as far as it used to.  To get to the 'trailhead', take the Mt. Index Road which is just before the bridge over the South Fork Skykomish river west of Index proper.  In a short distance bear right onto a crummy road that goes about 1/2 miles and ends at a large ditch.  This, I believe, is the start of the trail.  The road to Mt. Persis takes off from F.S. Road 26 which is about 1.5 miles west of the Mt. Index Road.  You follow this out (with some turns - see a USGS for details) for several miles with a fair amount of elevation gain. 

We had no difficulty locating Proctor Creek and started on up.  By this time in the morning it was already getting hot, so I figured it was going to be a thirsty day.  We had each brought 2L of water.  At first the going was pretty good going along a dry streambed over rocks.  We then started gaining altitude at a gentle rate.  A ways up there, we noticed another stream bed to the north that sounded like it had water in it (it turns out that this stream bed joined up with the one we were in lower down and we didn't notice the Y).  After looking at the terrain, we decided that this other bed was more likely to be the correct one, so we bushwhacked across waste high brush to the other stream bed (little knowing how much of this we would do by the end of the day).  We followed this upstream for a ways.  At one point it was beginning to get overgrown and we saw a what looked like a trail with an orange blaze on it.  Joe and I checked out the trail and Jay checked out the stream bed.  The "trail" quickly disappeared and Joe and I bushwhacked back to the creek bed and Jay.  Further up the stream we hit a couple waterfalls.  Joe and I climbed a couple.  Jay didn't like the looks of it and climbed up the side of the ravine.  We had already gone more than 1/3 mile, which is when Beckey says to leave the stream in a gorge 50 yards before a waterfall on a rock wall.  The wall here wasn't rock, but the next waterfall looked much to hard to climb, so we climbed up the side (loose dirt and brush) thinking that maybe it was clearer on top.  Beckey said to go north a few hundred feet and then use a series of benches to rise up to the ridge.  We went north a bit through brush, but didn't see anything that remotely resembled benches or any kind of easy progress eastward.  Worse, we saw a notch developing to the east of us that looked like it only got deeper.  We decided that Beckey was confused and that the last 2 paragraphs of his description belonged the the west route, not the south west ridge route (that we were following). 

We decided to cross this notch were it looked like some rock outcroppings might make better progress (we didn't feel like giving up yet).  After a real brushy crossing we found ourselves back at a creek (which turned out to be the same creek we left earlier, though higher up).  We made one attempt to get to the rock blobs we saw earlier, but the brush was too thick and it looked like we'd kill ourselves trying.  We tried upstream which I expected to close in and disappear rapidly, but it didn't.  The going was yucky with wet slimy stones and logs and plants in the way, but it kept going up.  A couple places we had to detour through the brush to avoid waterfalls, and some places the creek somewhat disappeared.  It was clearly easier than a brute force bushwhack, but it wasn't pleasant.  Quite a ways up, we got to a small vantage point and saw quick a bit of rockfall in the next valley over - we thought that that might be a better way of going down that retracing what we had just come up.  Somewhere along here we stopped and ate some lunch. 

We continued up until we seemed to be entering a cirque or chasm with steep walls.  Where we were wasn't too bad (i.e. it was climbable) but it looked like it got worse further on, so we climbed up and out.  This turned out to be a good thing as the brush on top was much better (only low stuff).  We traverse up and across heading towards the summit.  We entered the basin to the south and west of the summit and there we refilled water bottles (using Jay's iodine).  By this point we had long since abandoned any hope of traversing to Mt. Index.  Looking at the ridge line and what you'd have to cross, it looked like it would be a real pain to do that and we for sure didn't have the time.  I didn't think we'd be able (or that I even wanted) to do the summit of Persis.  We were all concerned about the trip back down and how long that would take.  We decided just to go to the ridge for the view and then head down.  The basin travel was pretty nice (especially compared to what we had been doing).  It was low bush and rock. 

At the ridge we got a good view of the three peaks of Mt. Index as well as the east face of Mt. Persis.  It dropped off pretty steeply (i.e. cliffy) on that side.  You also got good views of Index, the Skykomish river, and Route 2.  We took some pictures and headed back down. 

Going back across the basin was uneventful.  Finding our way off the basin and into the stream bed was tricky as most of it was real steep.  It took some looking before we found what looked like what he had come up.  It wasn't exactly that, but close enough and we got down to the creek.  We went down that until we came to the place we thought we'd try a different route.  This turned out to be mistake.  We beat through tall brush (much of this [all day] was done using 'vegetable belays' i.e. hanging onto the bushes and trees since the footing was slick/invisible/uneven/soft).  Unfortunately, the rock didn't go far at all (we had hoped it was the head of a more major stream).  We certainly didn't want to go back up what we had just came down so we continued downward.  We thought that further south would be easier going and angled a bit that way.  This started a long nightmare of bushwhacking.  We generally picked the route trying to find the easiest going without going down too steep terrain.  We were long since tired of this and just wanted to get out, but this was the only way.  Since no one really knew where we were going, we used a vague consensus method of decision making.  Some parts were brushier and some parts were less brushy but had been logged (so that there were felled trees and lots of loose branches).  I don't know which was worse to follow.  At one point Joe slipped and skewered his palm on a branch.  This was a nasty cut (1/4" deep) that bled quite a bit.  We had to stop and clean and bandage it.  This made Joe's progress a bit harder, since he couldn't grab as well with that hand.  Eventually we heard water off to the right and decided to try and head that way.  This finally led to an obnoxious descent back into Proctor creek.  Going down this wasn't great, but it was better than what we had been doing.  We finally came to the waterfall where we first climbed out of the creek.  This necessitated a very obnoxious climb out of the creek bed across terrain and back down into the creek bed. 

At this point all the really bad stuff was done.  We had some obnoxious stuff to go down, but we finally got to the flat area near the bottom and the going got positively pleasant (by comparison). 

Jay and Joe both wore shorts and their legs were real scratched and cut up.  I wore my light nylon/cotton pants.  They saved my legs, but I managed to get a good 4 inch tear in them.  They are now relegated to being only hiking pants (too bad, I liked them as cool lightweight pants - I'll have to see if REI has any more like that). 

Unfortunately, we had left the cooler with cold beverages at the other end (expecting to go out that way) so we had to wait to drive there before consuming more liquid. 

It was a hot, thirsty, not fun hike. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 15 17:07:52 PDT 2015