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John Guilford's Hikes

Mt. Pugh on 1993-09-04

Date: 1993-09-04

Location: Mt. Pugh

People: (including myself): Pam Becker

			My Alt.	Real Alt.
Start:		11:20	1920	1920
Lake Metan:	12:15	3120	3180	1.5 Miles
Treeline:	 1:40	4740		3   Miles
Stujack Pass:	 2:30	5620	5720	4.5 Miles (3.75 in 101 Hikes)
Summit:		 4:00	6980	7201	5.5 Miles
Leave:		 4:40
Stujack Pass:	 5:50	5520
Treeline:	 6:25	4780
Lake Metan:	 7:20	3180
Out:		 8:10	2000
Wow, a mile vertical gain! I hadn't remembered it as being so high, but it is.  A straight forward, though tiring hike. 

To get to the trailhead, take the mountain loop highway south out of Darrington (or you can go north from Barlow pass, but you spend more time on dirt roads that way).  A couple miles after the pavement ends, find the road to the Pugh Mtn. trailhead (it's small and not obvious, but there is a sign on the east side of the road).  The trail starts from just above the 2nd hairpin turn in the road.  There is no parking area, just park on the side of the road.  Don't make the mistake (like I did) of taking the road to the end; the trail starts part way up the road, not at the end.  The road is narrow (one lane) and would be difficult for two on-coming vehicles to pass one another.  It is really two tracks with grass/weeds separating them.  The passing vehicles are what keeps the grass between the two tire tracks short.  There are several places where there is a large drainage "dip" in the road to funnel runoff off of the road.  These are negotiable if taken slowly (I had a few scrapes going over them).  The drainage dips are worse after the trailhead, which makes another good reason for not going to the end of the road. 

After we drove to the end of the road and then determined we screwed up and went back down to the real trailhead and found a spot to park.  We got a late start and with the extra driving around didn't actually start hiking until after 11 a.m.  With the late start, I wondered if we'd make it to the summit, but it turns out that we did. 

The switchbacks up to Lake Metan were in the sun by now (see description 90-08-12), but it wasn't very hot.  We quickly reached the lake and kept going up the trail.  I only brought 2 1-L water bottles and worried that we would run out of water.  Pam, on the other hand, was worried that we hadn't brought enough food.  We grazed on some rolls on the way up.  Just before we broke out above tree line, we stopped for a final pitstop as the trail is pretty exposed beyond there, which makes the process more immodest.  Also at treeline we met Mike Aken, who had started at 7:30 that morning, coming back down with his dog.  After a short "Hello" and "Goodbye", he was off going down and we were off going up. 

The switchbacks up to Stujack pass were hot and oppressive, but not as bad as they could be since the day wasn't too hot.  There was quite a bit of thistle growing alongside the trail and it was in bloom.  This attracted quite a few bees who were buzzing all around as we climbed to the pass. 

Just beyond the pass, we stopped for a snack and ate some cantaloupe. The cantaloupe tasted really good (wet and sweet).  This was a good thing to bring, and I probably should bring more on future hikes. 

I thought that I remembered that the going got easier after Stujack pass, but I was mistaken.  The trail follows the ridge line for a ways.  First you continue ascending via switchbacks.  Later you cross some narrow rocky ridges above a small glacier.  The most difficult section of the route [ PIX2 ] (which isn't that hard) follows the last narrow ridge.  Here the trail climbs a bit (rock scramble) and there are places where the small rocks and dirt make the footing not as good as it could be.  Past this, the trail continues to climb as it approaches the summit.  Again, I though the trail would ease off its ascent, but the trail keeps climbing, gaining elevation.  Towards the top, I was getting a little despondent (I was tired) over the distance that my altimeter said we had left to go coupled with the time that was left (it was close to when we figured we had to turn around to get out at dark).  Fortunately, my altimeter was off by 200 ft in the "correct" direction and the summit was reached sooner than expected. 

[ PIX1 ] Though the sky was relatively cloud free (just some white puffy clouds), the valley was very hazy with reddish brown crud.  This somewhat limited the quality of the viewing.  Furthermore, many of the good views are to the west towards Three Fingers and Whitehorse which was toward the sun.  The haze coupled with the sun bleached out the viewing in that direction.  The view was good, just not as spectacular as it could be.  I looked at White Chuck, while I was there, trying to find the route we took up it, but I couldn't see it.  Maybe it is on the other side and, hence, invisible from Pugh

We spent about a half an hour snacking on the top before getting ready to head down.  While there we met "John" (not myself) who had come up by himself and had thought about spending the night, but had decided not to.  He was quite intimidated by the heights on his way up (he almost turned around twice) and wanted company on the trip down.  We didn't mind, and waited another 10 minutes for him to get his stuff together.  He did just fine coming down, though you could tell by his constant jabbering that he was nervous.  Both Pam and myself found going down to be easier than going up, which surprised me, since usually the ascent is easier.  We parted with John just above Stujack when we stopped for another snack. 

The descent from the summit to the pass involves a lot of "step-down"'s which were a bit hard on my knees which started to get a little sore.  Once we reached the pass and started on 'trail' again, the pain went away and I was fine (besides being fatigued).  Pam found her toe joints to be getting sore during most of the hike, but there wasn't much to do besides bear it. 

We took a bit of a brisk pace down, particularly after tree line when the trail became pretty good.  We met John again at Lake Metan, where he was soaking his feet in the water.  We finished off the water here.  It turns out that neither water nor food was a problem.  Towards the top of the mountain, it cooled off and sweating wasn't really a problem.  Up on the summit, it was a bit breezy, and I put on my sweatshirt.  The result was that we didn't continue to go through water as fast as we had at the beginning of the hike so that we had enough water (though if there was more, I would have drank more).  I should start carrying more water in the future, probably in two packs instead of sharing a pack between Pam and myself. 

It was getting a bit dark as we got back to the trail head.  In another 15-30 minutes, it may have been time to pull out the flashlight (which I had brought this time).  Sunset was at 7:43 and it was 3 days past full moon, so the moon didn't rise until 8:46, so it was getting rather dark around 8:10. 


[ PIX1 ] Pam with White Horse in the background (left side of valley). 

[ PIX2 ] Pugh's ridge line, Sauk River, and valley floor. 

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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015