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Ascent of Revolution Peak on 2016-07-16

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, July 16, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Revolution Peak
    Location:USA-Washington
    Elevation:5454 ft / 1662 m

Ascent Trip Report

Important: My route was unnecessarily long--there is a new Granite Lakes cutoff trail that starts on the Middle Fork Road just before the "Concrete Bridge". This leads directly to the northern bend of the old Granite Lakes Road/Trail and saves about 1.5 miles of hiking each way.

I had hiked the old Granite Lakes Road/Trail in 2010 and recalled it as a gentle, wide road, closed to traffic, so I almost brought my mountain bike. Good thing I didn't, though--over the past few years the DNR has turned to road into an actual trail, and at this point the remainder of the old road's width is totally overgrown. It's a typical narrow hiking trail now.

I parked at the Mailbox Peak trailhead at 7:40 AM on a cloudy Saturday morning and it was well on its way to being full. I hiked the short distance back down to the Middle Fork Road and started looking for the Granite Lakes trailhead. It was further along the road then I remembered (0.3 mile), and totally unmarked and unsigned, hidden behind a parked backhoe being used for the ongoing paving work.

I followed the trail for several miles, pleased at the complete lack of crowds (as opposed to the thronged Mailbox Peak trail) and the recent trail work, which, in addition to the "de-roading", included stones for crossing brooks and some extensive clearing of blowdown trees with chainsaws further up. A nice bench with a view was a landmark at about 1500 feet.

At the northern bend of the trail was a trail junction, where I met the first other people of the day, a couple that had come up the new cutoff trail. I chatted with them for a little bit and learned about this option which would have saved me a bit of time and distance. At the nice new bridge over Granite Creek I left them behind, cruised up past the blowdown area, and then through a humid area of riparian vegetation closer to the creeks in the upper basin.

At 3080 feet the first trail sign I had seen announced that Granite Lakes was straight ahead and the left fork led to Thompson Lake, which I took. The trail was now a bit rougher and more clearly an old logging road--it had not yet been "de-roaded" fully and was rockier and steeper as it switchbacked uphill. At 3960 feet, where some giant rocks blocked the next switchback, a second sign indicated that Thompson Lake was straight ahead--this was the start of the Mount Defiance trail that led towards the popular peaks near Mason Lake.

I wanted to head uphill toward Revolution, however, so I went around the big rocks and followed the old road uphill. About 10 berms had been dug across the road to discourage causal hikers, a bit annoying to hike over, and after that a swampy area was a bit overgrown. But once past those obstacles the road was easy going--a bit rocky and rough, and starting to get overgrown in a few places, but nothing too bad. It led to the semi-open SE ridge of Point Thompson, and I peeled off on the second grassy spur road marked on the map, hoping it led across to a point near Revolution Peak.

Unfortunately, the USGS map was accurate as to the road's length, so when it ended I had to start bushwhacking. I went uphill through low bushes and some trees, hoping to gain the Thompson-Revolution ridge and then follow that NE to Revolution. I gained the ridge at a rocky fin and then found that following the crest was difficult. The ridge was almost a knife edge, with lots of rocky gendarmes, and was very brushy. The misty weather has left many trees full of water and I was getting drenched bashing the brush. It was pretty miserable and after crossing one tricky gendarme I was pretty much ready to turn back--I didn't have the inclination to navigate this kind of terrain solo all the way to the summit.

Fortunately, I decided to press on to see if the conditions improved, and, sure enough, the rocky fins were gone and the remainder of the route was not too bad. The trees on the SE side of the ridge were drier, and game trails provided efficient travel through bushy meadows on gentler terrain. I saw a some faded orange ribbon flagging, but not enough to be helpful. After crossing a couple boulder fields I came out on the broad, open, gentle summit of Revolution.

Here I rested for 20 minutes. The humid day featured low clouds and there were no good views, just a few peeks down to lakes and valleys below. A red bottle held a nice new register, placed by Monty Vanderbilt just last year. The peak seems to see about 5 or so parties a year, surprising considering its prominence and closeness to Seattle.

On the way down I momentarily stopped looking at my GPS and found myself suckered down a wrong vector by inviting terrain that looked familiar, and so I had to traverse back to the ridge. Once back on the crest, I stayed on the SE side and when it started getting rocky I dropped down further and further, skirting a cliff and avoiding the brushy gendarmes, since I was headed down to where I started my bushwhack anyway. This may not have been any better that the ridge crest, since I had sidehill across steep dirt slopes for a long way, swinging across it like Tarzan on veggie belays. At last my trusty GPS got me back to the overgrown road, and I was happy to be done with the bushwhack. It had taken me about 40 minutes up and 35 down, from the road end to the summit, a distance of about 0.7 miles, about half of that rough going.

I completely avoided Thompson Point and its nearby cabin. It might be easier to follow old roads to that minor summit, but the brushy knife-edge ridge would still have to be traversed or bypassed. My guess is that won't save much you much time, but you get a bonus bump and will see the landmark cabin.

My downhill hike from the grassy spur road was uneventful. I only saw two other parties, one right behind the other, near the Granite Lake turnoff. That made a total of only three parties seen all day. The contrast with the overcrowded Mailbox hike next door was palpable when I returned to the Middle Fork Road, 0.3 miles from the Mailbox trailhead, to see overflow cars parked all along the road. I could have parked right at the unmarked Granite Lakes trailhead and saved a spot in the Mailbox parking lot for someone else, I guess. (Or, even better, driven another mile or so to the cutoff trail).

Overall this was a quality ascent that deserves more use. Aside from about 2000 horizontal feet of pretty nasty, steep, brushy bushwhacking, the remainder of this hike presents no serious obstacles.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:4834 ft / 1473 m
    Elevation Loss:4834 ft / 1473 m
    Distance:16.6 mi / 26.7 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Low Clouds
Humid, muggy
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:4734 ft / 1443 m
    Extra Loss:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:8.4 mi / 13.5 km
    Route:Granite Creek Tr
    Trailhead:Mailbox Pk TH  820 ft / 249 m
    Time Up:3 Hours 50 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:4734 ft / 1443 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Distance:8.2 mi / 13.2 km
    Route:Granite Creek Tr
    Trailhead:Mailbox Pk TH  820 ft / 249 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 50 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip


 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. Peakbagger.com accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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