Ascent of Larch Mountain on 2014-03-16

Climber: James Barlow

Date:Sunday, March 16, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Larch Mountain
    Elevation:2660 ft / 810 m

Ascent Trip Report

This is a combined TR for Capitol and Larch, the 2 peaks that contend for P2k status near Olympia, WA in Capitol State Forest.

Crappy weather, crappy peaks, crappy day. Initially I wanted to mountain bike these peaks and make at least a decent day of them. After skiing for 10 hours at Stevens Pass on Saturday and arriving home pretty late that night, I took a look at the weather forecast for Sunday: 100% chance of rain for all of western Washington - ugh. Initially Dan and I discussed Big Gee or Ten Four as possibilities for Sunday. Not wanting to spend 20 miles on Ten Four or who knows how many miles (snowline-dependent) on Big Gee in the rain/snow, We ditched plans for those 2 peaks. Dan had something come up with his family, so he was not able to join me today. I considered some of the WA 200 most prominent peaks out near Yakima, but that would make for a long day with the drive. The weather on that side of the mountains was supposed to be 60 and sunny, bummer...

I woke up at 7:30 and checked the weather. Rain everywhere, sigh... I decided to head for Larch & Capitol with the idea of driving as high as possible and then hiking and/or snowshoeing to the summit of both. The mountain bike idea was ditched on account of the rain.

Some of these driving directions are copied from another report and the second half is my own mileage. To get to the peaks: Exit US-101 in Olympia at Black Lake Rd, zero odometer. Turn south and continue 4.2 miles to a T-junction at Delphi Rd. Turn left. At 6.4 miles, turn right on to Waddell Creek Rd. At 9.1 miles, this road changes names to Sherman Valley Rd. Zero your odometer again here. At 1.3 miles, continue past Noschka Rd and stay on the main road. The pavement ends shortly after this point. At 3.3 miles, leave "C Line" with a sharp turn to the right. Other trip reports allude to another turn at 4.3 miles. I did see the right turn here, but it looked like a spur road to nowhere, so I turned up the switchback to the left and continued upward. At 6.9 miles you reach a very large open area with ample parking for the peak. A truck was parked here to my surprise. This is also an intersection with options to turn left or right.

I headed up the road to the peak passing through a locked yellow gate right above the parking area. I met a group of 6 teenagers hiking down from the peak. They were all in jeans and sweatshirts and looked pretty wet. I was certainly surprised to see them hiking this antenna-infested bump. I wandered around hitting all of the contenders for high point. This summit has been very altered by man. I made my way down to the car and hopped in for the short ride over to Larch.

Larch is reached by turning right upon arrival at the large parking area for Capitol and continuing on this well-graded road to a fork at mile 7.5 (Capitol parking area was mile 6.9). At this fork, bear right and continue to mile 7.7. The road to the left (yellow gate, probably locked) heads towards the summit. I parked at the junction and headed up this road.

I left the road as it reached a saddle between Larch to the west and an antenna-infested bump to the east. Remnants of a logging road head west to the summit of Larch, first through a clear-cut and then entering a forest. A highpoint is reached shortly at an intersection of overgrown roads where you can go left or straight to a dead end and the high point. I wandered around to ensure I covered the high ground. This summit was nicer as the forest here was quite nice, though littered with trash from rednecks just below the summit.

I considered heading back to pavement via my driving ascent route, but then decided to head down to the north to see if it connects. It does, though I did not keep track of my mileage for future use. Getting down was generally logical and I used the DeLorme atlas for assistance. Getting up may include a turn or two that may not be as intuitive. I had a late lunch at Ranch House BBQ on Highway 8, less than 1 mile west of where I hit Highway 8 when coming out of the forest. It was pretty good.

I accidentally deleted the GPS track for Capitol when I reset the trip computer for Larch - whatever...

Capitol stats:
1.21 miles
3.1 mph avg
23m 16s walking time
1m stopped

Larch stats:
1.63 miles
2.9 mph avg
33m 21s walking time
6m stopped

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:440 ft / 134 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:440 ft / 134 m
    Route:Logging Road to E Ridge
    Start Trailhead:2220 ft / 676 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by James Barlow
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. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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