Remmel from the unnamed lake at 7,200'. Quite a difference from May when everything was covered in snow! Our route went up the saddle on the left following the old telegraph wire.
Remmel Mountain 8,685'
One of the Bugler's 100 highest of Washington
2004 Fall Larch Trip
|Remmel Mountain is deep in the heart of the
Pasayten Wilderness, within sight of the Canada. It is not difficult
technically, but does require a 15 mile approach. We had attempted Remmel
once before at the end of May and were snowed off the Mountain at 7,600'.
The Trailhead, which is normally the Chewuch River Trail, at the very end of the West Chewuch River Road, 30 miles North of Winthrop, was closed by the Forest Service for "road repair". We had no prior warning and traveled along until we were 20 miles North of Winthrop and found the road was blocked! We took a few minutes to decide our options, then drove back to Winthrop and up the 30 mile road to Long Swamp and the Cathedral Stairs Trailhead, 5,400'.
At the Trailhead we met a large party of 11, out to bag Cathedral, Apex, and Remmel all in one trip! They too were delayed by the closed road at the start, but had called beforehand so saved some driving time.
The Cathedral Stairs Trail drops 1,400' in two miles to join with the Chewuch River Trail. This is 2-3 miles shorter than starting at the 30 Mile Trailhead, but is a longer drive. Is it worth it if the 30 Mile Trailhead was open? I'm not sure.
We hiked the first miles with the large party, and several in the group thought we were part of their group. We would of liked to go to Cathedral with them, but didn't have the two additional days. It seemed they were all working on their Bugler 100 list. One, Randy, is a WAC member.
The trail is in excellent condition, with only a few down trees across the trail.
In the next two miles there are branches to two trails. Neither was marked. All the signs are down, and the forest service either doesn't have the time or the money to put them back up.
The first is the Chewuch River crossing to the Fire Creek Trail , and Coleman Ridge. This is not doable in the early summer due to high flows. It was fine on this fall day. On the other side of the river is a shelter. Unfortunately, we did not have time to investigate.
A half mile further on the Chewuch River Trail is Trail 360, which will take hikers to Topaz Mountain, 7,792', and Windy Peak, 8,334'.
Two miles later we left the large party, as they continued up the Tungsten Creek Trail toward Apex Mountain. A short time later, we heard a crashing though the Lodgepole Pine and saw a huge bull elk. No wonder people confuse these animals with a moose. This one was clearly an elk.
We continued to hike to just the camp at 12 miles, just before the junction with 4 Point Creek. We set up a nice camp at about 5,500' in the early afternoon and relaxed for the rest of the day. We heard the hoot of an owl, and Doerte saw it fly right over us.
In the morning we did an easy crossing of the Chewuch River. The trail quickly gained elevation to Four Point Lake, 7,120', a gorgeous area with larches and fish jumping. There were some fine camps, but very little wood at this high elevation. We continued along the trail and then turned North into the upper basin.
The map shows the lake at 7,200' as unnamed. When we were here on Memorial Day everything was frozen and snow covered. Following the advice of Michael and Florence Sheehan we went around the right side of the lake instead of over the boulders on the left side. We climbed the basin and followed the old telegraph wire. A little class three brought us through a small saddle to the southeast ridge of Remmel.
We were shocked to find a very good trail that ascended the ridge and then switchbacked it's way to the summit.
At the summit of Remmel Mountain, 8,685' there was the usual lookout long gone rubble and trash. The forest service must of run mules or horse to keep the lookout person supplied, but they had to go a long way for water once the snow melted.
The summit register showed many people we knew had been to the summit. Fay Pullen, we have never met, but we seem to be always a few days or weeks behind her on summits. From the Washington Alpine Club there was Dana Cook, Claudia Bartels, Florence and Michael Sheehan, George Snelling, and Pat O'Brien. I'm not surprised with the magnificent views we enjoyed!
We followed the trail back down to where it connected with the Coleman Ridge Trail, and then returned to our camp for the night. The next morning we got an early start, hiking by headlight, and were back to the Trailhead before noon.
3 days, 30 miles, 5,400', elevation gain.
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