Ascent of Laurel Mountain on 2016-08-10

Climber: Paul McClellan

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Laurel Mountain
    Elevation:3589 ft / 1093 m

Ascent Trip Report

I may or may not have been trespassing this day to summit Laurel Mountain. Getting permission from Brian Wellman of the FAA to visit the summit behind the FAA gate was easy - I called Brian, he asked me to send him an email, and he granted me permission to access the summit by email. He told me on the phone that this did not grant permission to cross private property around the mountain.

I drove west from Falls City on Black Rock Road (unsigned) to the Weyerhaeuser Gate. The gate was open. There were signs explicitly stating "PRIVATE PROPERTY NO MOTORIZED PUBLIC ACCESS" and such. However, before and beyond the gate there were also signs stating "DAY TIME RECREATIONAL USE ALLOWED ONE HOUR BEFORE SUNRISE TO ONE HOUR AFTER SUNSET". I photographed these signs and decided I might be forgiven if stopped due to the sign confusion.

I drove on. A log truck driver was stopped on the route due to a truck breakdown and he glared at me as I drove by. I stopped and spoke with him. He stated that I was definitely trespassing and the company would call out the sheriff on me if it was aware of my presence. He said it did not matter whether the gate was closed or open or if I was driving or on a bike - a bicyclist had previously been escorted off the property. He also said he previously asked Weyerhaeuser for permission to hunt on the property but was told it would cost him $500 to do so, in spite of his having hauled for them for years. So previous hunting season road access might no longer be available.

The truck driver did not actually work for Weyerhaeuser and I expect the truck drivers do not want anyone else on the roads. I decided to take my chances with the sign confusion and my photographic evidence. I continued on up Black Rock Road towards the summit.

At one point I met a descending log truck on a narrow part of the road without much of a shoulder and nearly got run over. I tried to be more aware of truck traffic from there on.

I arrived at the FAA gate and hiked up the summit road. A pickup approached me from below. The driver was Steve Shepherd (?) an electrical worker for the summit facility. I showed him a copy of Brian's email granting me permission and Steve was fine with that. Steve said he monitored his CB radio to coordinate travel on the logging roads with the trucks. Steve is a geocacher and described where the benchmark was located. After the short hike to the summit gate I found the benchmark between the gate and a small pile of rocks to the right of the road.

I returned to my vehicle and carefully drove out to the Weyerhaeuser gate. I was careful to scan ahead where I could to spot trucks and to stop and listen for trucks before entering blind corners. Twice I pulled well off the road for an approaching truck and the drivers seemed cordial as they drove by. If I had a CB radio I would have monitored channel 10 (posted) for announcements of ascending or descending traffic.

If you should attempt to access Laurel Mountain via Black Rock Road be sure to get permission from Brian Wellman in advance for access to the summit. Jeff Carr's information for Brian is still valid:

Brian Wellman

You will need to take your chances with the Weyerhaeuser property access confusion. Verify the recreation use signs are still posted and if driving be very attentive to truck traffic.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:289 ft / 88 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Route:Summit Road
    Trailhead:FAA Gate  3300 ft / 1005 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Paul McClellan
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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.

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