Ascent of Big Gee on 2014-10-01

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Big Gee
    Elevation:5080 ft / 1548 m

Ascent Trip Report

Another peak in my "after work" series of hikes. Today's options were Howard or Big Gee. I opted for Big Gee as some co-workers want to take Monday off work and hike, so I will save Howard for that hike as Big Gee is a peak only a peakbagger could like. As previous trip reports mention, there are a number of pointless mounds in the road impeding the progress of hikers who do not have high-clearance vehicles. This stupid road illustrates the Forest Service's priorities: 1) logging, 2) logging, 3) logging, 4) redneck OHV use, 5) hunting, 99) hikers. Anyway, I was stopped just past my start point of 2,320 ft by one of these berms. On the other side of it was a large mud puddle that I did not feel confident about driving through with my Yaris. I grabbed the shovel that I always carry from my trunk and went to work on some road maintenance. Initially I drained the large puddle of water, which significantly reduced the size of the puddle, but would do nothing to resolve the mud in the near future. I thought of leveling the mound, but that would take a considerable amount of time. I opted instead to turn the Yaris around and find a place to park. I found a place a few hundred meters down the road and parked off the road. My hike began up the logging roads. I encountered only 1 other puddle of any considerable Yaris-stopping size on the remainder of the the road hike. My anger at the forest service increased. Don't worry - if you are an important forest user and therefore have a large logging truck or a quad you can get up to the trailhead no problem. I estimated that this inconvenience would add ~5 miles and 1 1/2 hours to my ascent. 4.9 miles and 1 hr 15 min later, I was at the real "trailhead." There is of course no trail or even use trail up Big Gee.

The hike up the road was rather pleasant, though I knew I would be repeating the descent in the dark. I reached the end of the spur road and began to head uphill into the brush and trees. The initial section sucks, though once you reach the large trees on the ridge the hike improves and is not too bad. I went up and over almost every bump on the ridge except for one rocky spire just below the final summit. I bypassed this very high on the west (not recommended). On the descent, I bypassed it a bit lower on the east (shitty, but better than the other way). For the entirety of the ridge, if you feel the need to drop off the ridge to avoid something, if you drop to the left side on the ascent, therefore right side on the descent, you will be better off 95% of the time. The final push to the summit was a bit difficult - either go right on to some exposed mossy slabs (nope) or left into some thicker trees (I guess, sigh). There is a cairn on the summit though no register. This is truly a peak that only a dedicated peakbagger would spend time ascending.

My descent was initially uneventful, though it became more interesting as I descended. Just below the summit ridge, I managed to pull a rock down with my left hand that began falling towards my feet. I moved my left foot out of the way just in time for it to smack my right ankle - smooth move. It hurt a little, but as I write this report 2 days later, it is just fine now. Then, I nearly made a wrong turn towards Exclamation Point (FA: Grant Myers, 1990). Another section of steep grass caused me to slip right on to my butt and slide like a little kid for about 6 feet. Fun, but not something I want to repeat. The sun set as I hit Point 4,800+ just above the logging road back to the car. I still had dusk light for another 30 minutes or so. Upon reaching the road, I finally pulled out my mid-layer an donned it. I also checked the time: 7:30pm. My estimate return to car time was 8:45. I didn't pull out the headlamp until I reached the switchback around 3,300 ft on the descent as I had ambient light until that point. I would not have needed a flashlight if the road were flat, but I nearly tripped over a damn bump, prompting me to light my path to avoid injury. Around 2,900 ft I saw a bush in the left tire track. I did not recall a bush growing on the road. I squealed like a little girl when it moved and I discovered that it was a porcupine. Luckily nobody was around to laugh at my embarrassing outburst and even more luckily, it did not shoot quills at me. I felt like a real wimp... I considered jogging back to the car at various points on the descent, but I had my Navy fitness test the next day and didn't really want to wear my legs out too badly. I could get on my soapbox about how the Navy fitness test is a joke (lots of fat Sailors) and that it is no true measure of fitness and how situps are stupid and how I ran my 1.5 miles in 9:56 (considered an "outstanding") the following day, but I digress.

I reached my car at 8:43, within 2 minutes of my estimated time. At least I guessed something right! I stretched out as my car warmed up and I switched into some dry footwear for the drive home. I opted to spend the night on the ship as I did not make it to a 24 hr diner in Marysville for dinner until 10:30pm and my only plans for my apartment in Seattle were a shower and bed. It made more sense to drive to the ship in Everett and take my shower there and sleep in my bed on the ship as I had to work in the morning. Driving to Seattle just to sleep and wake up to drive back to Everett was pretty pointless.

Overall, Big Gee is a pretty terrible peak on all counts. I would even possibly consider it the worst peak I have done in Washington to date, and as my P2k completion list shows, I have done some pretty crappy WA peaks! It is a bushwhack (my favorite method of outdoor travel), the views were minimal (due to cloud cover, though I think they would be rather nice on a sunny day), and the trailhead is 4WD (or logging truck, or OHV) accessible only. This hike completes all of the P2k peaks on "Logger's Island" for me. None of them were particularly enjoyable, though Round and Silo will be memorable for reasons other than the actual peak climbed.

Of note: my GPS was doing what it always seems to do here in Washington - screw up. My track is all over the place initially and shows me gaining and losing hundreds of feet near the logging roads that I certainly did not do. Anyway, I reset it and then it worked ok. (#firstworldproblems) The final GPS count put me at just under 14 miles. I would venture to say that 14 miles is actually pretty close to accurate as I did do nearly 10 of those miles on logging roads, saving just over 4 round trip for the peak. Pictures
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2760 ft / 841 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2760 ft / 841 m
    Route:Logging Roads to East Ridge
    Start Trailhead:2320 ft / 707 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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