John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Persis on 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
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.
Please send comments or corrections to
Last updated on: Mon Jun 15 17:07:52 PDT 2015