John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Pugh on 1998-08-09
Location: Mt. Pugh
People: (including myself): Gene Obie, Joe Tarantino
My Alt. Real Alt.
Lv Gene's House 8:50
Start: 10:00 1920 1920
Lake Metan: 11:00 3140 3180 1.5 Miles
Treeline: 1:00 4740 3 Miles
Stujack Pass: 1:45 5540 5730
Lv Stujack: 2:15 5480
Summit: 3:30 6920 7201
Lv summit: 4:50 6920
Stujack Pass: 5:40
Treeline: 6:20 4720
Lake Metan: 7:20 3140
Out: 8:00 1960
Gene's House: 9:15
Approach: From Darrington, drive south on the Mountain Loop Highway. In
about nine or ten miles, you cross the Sauk River, the pavement ends, and
the road is listed as FS20. Continue (straight) on FS20 for about four
miles (passing FS2090 on your left) till you get to FS2095 which is well
marked with a sign for Mt. Pugh. Take a left onto FS2095 and drive about a
mile and a half to the 2nd switchback. There is a wide parking area here
with the trail head just around the corner. The road has been considerably
improved from my previous hike here in '93. It was recently re-graveled and
re-graded resulting in a real nice dirt road instead of the rutted wheel
tracks I found previously.
This is a long but very nice day hike with interesting variation in the
terrain and flora and stupendous views at the end.
The trail wastes no time - it immediately starts grinding out elevation
gain and essentially doesn't let up till you are on the summit. It can't
afford to - the trail has to gain almost exactly a mile in elevation over
the course of 5-1/2 miles (resulting in an average 18% grade). The start
of the trail ascends cool, semi-open forest where one is surrounded by some
nice large trees. Near the beginning of the trail one crosses a couple of
small streams and there are a couple of log foot bridges/paths (which look
like they've seen better days) on sections of the trail. This it your
landmark towards the end of the hike to let you know that you are almost
finished and that your car is just ahead.
The trail does a long climbing traverse of the hill side above the Sauk
River. After about a 3/4 mile traverse, the trail switchbacks up to Lake
Metan which allows a short respite. This gives the first real views of the
ridge line of Mt. Pugh (waaaay up above you). At this point you are only
1/4 of the way there. After the trail winds about Lake Metan it continues
switchbacking up the hillside, still through forest. Ultimately you reach
tree line and the end of shade. Before you you can see the sunny slope
leading up to Stujack Pass and the ridge line leading up to the summit,
which isn't quite as far away as it used to be. Now you are about half way
there. Up till now the trail has been is real nice condition and a
pleasure to hike on. The slope is relentless but relatively gentle. From
tree line on up, the trail quality goes down a bit, being a bit more uneven
and requiring a bit more care for foot placement, though it still is in
very decent shape. The trail picks up some steepness. You pass from the
semi-open forest to alpine meadow with wild flowers and thistle.
Numerous switchbacks slowly ascend the gully, eventually leading you to
Stujack Pass. As you crest the pass, you are rewarded with sights of
Mt. Baker, Shuksan, and White Chuck (among others) as the pass faces mostly
north. This is a good place to take a break and have a snack. This is the
three quarter point and there is still almost 1500 feet to go.
From here the trail, which in some places might be called more of a
climbers track, though it is easy enough to follow, ascends along a knife
edge ridge for a while, some times with steep drop-offs not too far away
(see commentary on 90-08-12 ascent). Here the terrain takes its third form
- that of rock, lichen, and snow. After passing the south side of an
unnamed glacier (NW of the summit), and the remnants of one of the old
tramway used to haul materials to the summit for the now non-existent
lookout, the trail switchbacks a few times ascending to the summit.
The summit has a large flat top with some iron work where the lookout used
to be. From here you feel like you're on the top of the world. To the
east is Glacier Peak; to the South, Bedal and Sloan Peaks along with all
the peaks around Monte Cristo. If the day is clear, one can make out
Mt. Rainier rising over everything else. To the SW is Dickerman Mtn. and
Forgotten. To the west is Three Fingers and Whitehorse. To the north is
White Chuck and the whole North Cascades. Over a mile below you, and only
a bit more than two miles away (as the crow flies) is the Sauk River.
This is a good place to relax and enjoy the rewards of your efforts.
You've completed the optional half of the hike, you still have the
mandatory half (the hike back down).
Today the weather was clear and not too hot. There were no bugs to speak
of. There were a couple flies climbing towards Stujack Pass, but nothing
to even think about. We also went through a bunch of grass hoppers near
the bottom of that gully. Surprisingly when we reached the summit the air
was perfectly calm with occasional gentle breezes. We expected to find
more wind up there. The air was a bit hazy to the south and west, but we
could pick out Rainier without undue trouble.
I brought along 2L of water which may have been a bit on the short side.
They lasted through the hike, and I didn't feel thirsty along the way, but
I did get a headache coming down which may have been due to slight
dehydration. My food supply worked out well. I had an apple on the way up
at Metan. At Stujack I had a bagel. On the summit I had my second bagel
and some grapes. I ate my second apple coming down from Stujack, and
finished off the grapes at Metan on the way down.
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015