John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Pugh on 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
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
(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.
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
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
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
Pam with White Horse in the background (left side of valley).
Pugh's ridge line, Sauk River, and valley floor.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015