Ascent of Miners Ridge Lookout on 2014-07-26

Climber: Craig Willis

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, July 26, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Miners Ridge Lookout
    Elevation:6208 ft / 1892 m

Ascent Trip Report

Due to the partial closure of Suiattle River Road... and because the approaches from the north, east, and south were all still snowbound... this trek was a whopping 55 miles roundtrip. The first 10 miles to Downey Creek were via bicycle, as were the final 10 miles on the return. That left 35 miles of road/trail hiking. Even when including tent camping, my roundtrip time was less than 26 hours total for the entire trek roundtrip.

The nice thing about the road closure was that I had the road and trails to myself. After getting a late start on Friday, I continued hiking the Suiattle River Trail for several hours in the dark until reaching the campsites near the large suspension bridge (approximately 18 miles from the car). My initial reason for choosing that location was to divide the overall trip in thirds over two nights (18 miles car-to-camp, 19 miles camp-to-summit-to-camp, 18 miles camp-to-car). There were some great campsites on each side of Canyon Creek; I had my pick of the bunch. I quickly setup camp and then took time to eat half of my Chipotle burrito, which seemed more filling than it normally would be.

After sleeping for several hours, I left my campsite setup and got an early morning start to more trail-hiking. There were some downed trees along the Suiattle River Trail, PCT, and Image Lake Trail, but nothing to prohibit progress. The trail systems were very straightforward; I could see remnants of old trails along the slopes of Miners Ridge... perhaps from past mining operations or early USFS trails?

When I reached the saddle on the ridgetop of Miners Ridge, I turned left (west) and the lookout was only a few minutes away. This lookout tower has a great view of the surrounding area, and quickly became one of my favorites in Washington. The upper porch entrance was closed, which was ultimately a good thing because it appeared that someone had not properly closed the door to the lookout cab. Not wanting to disturb the outside shutters and not seeing any "No Trespassing" signs (or similar), I went inside the cab. It was in "service ready" condition. A few minutes later, I realized that the latch on the door was broken. I left the cab, making certain to close the door as best as I could, and after taking a few photos and video of the surrounding area I was soon on my way back.

When I returned to my campsite, it was only 1:15 PM. Despite having tired feet, I did not feel like hanging around doing nothing for many hours so I decided to take a long break to snack, drink water, and tear down camp. I continued returning back towards the car, taking several notable water breaks and rests along the way so as not to overexert my already tired body in the heat of the day. I still made it back to the car with plenty of daylight to spare, after a 37-mile day.

The effort was worth it. I knew the blisters would heal but the memories of the trip would last much longer.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:6208 ft / 1892 m
    Extra Gain:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:55 mi / 88.5 km
    Trailhead:1000 ft / 304 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Stream Ford
    Gear Used:
Bicycle, Ski Poles, Tent Camp
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear

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