Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Billy Goat Trailhead / 綿羊山

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness is only a few miles from Canada. The peak boasts over 2000 feet of prominence, with the nearest higher neighbor eight miles away. Despite the long way from Billy Goat Trailhead, it’s notable among summit seekers.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness by the Canadian border
Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness by the Canadian border

See more trip photos here.

For Sheep Mountain by Mountain Loop Highway, check out this post.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness at a Glance

Diamond Slam = Fool Hen Southeast + Fool Hen Mountain + Bauble Butte (Zirconium Point) + Skeptical Butte + Sheep Mountain 8274 + Two Point Mountain
Environs = Foxy Peak + Diamond Point + Corral Peak + Gabril Point + Sand Ridge + Ashnola Mountain

鑽石滿貫=東南樅樹雞山+樅樹雞山+巴勃孤峯(鋯石點)+多疑孤峯+綿羊山8274+兩頭山
周圍地區=法克西峯+鑽石點+克拉爾峯+加百利點+砂土脊+艾希諾拉山

Access: Billy Goat Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 3800′-8274′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: not available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

July 4-7, 2019

Day 1 – Wednesday, July 4
Fool Hen Southeast + Fool Hen Mountain
Night 1 – Fox Lakes

Day 2 – Thursday, July 5
Foxy Peak + Diamond Point + Bauble Butte + Skeptical Butte + Corral Peak
Night 2 – McCall Gulch

Day 3 – Friday, July 6
Sheep Mountain 8274 + Gabril Point + Sand Ridge
Night 3 – McCall Gulch

Day 4 – Saturday, July 7
Ashnola Mountain + Two Point Mountain
Exit via Dollar Watch Pass and Three Fools Pass


Day 1

Fool Hen Southeast + Fool Hen Mountain

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Happy Fourth of July

The pup and I used the rest of the Fourth of July week visiting Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness. Along the way, we climbed peaks and went through areas affected by the 2017 Diamond Creek Fire. We were last here en route to The Craggies.

Eightmile Creek Road was still open when I contacted Methow Valley ranger station a month ago. But we drove up to a closed gate the night before. We bit the bullet and walked four miles up to Billy Goat Trailhead without a sound backup plan.

Eightmile Road closure
Eightmile Road closure

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Billy Goat Trailhead

Forest Service had cleared down trees from Billy Goat Trail recently. So the path up to Billy Goat Pass and down the other side was decent. Then we went east on Trail #532 at the first junction.

The mostly brushy and somewhat visible trail south of Drake Creek was hard to follow. Tree blazes and a few cairns helped guide our way to the creek crossing. Soon, the trail disappeared.

Billy Goat Trailhead at last
Billy Goat Trailhead at last

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Fool Hen Southeast

We continued east from north of the creek. At the same time, we moved in the direction of Eightmile Trail that no longer existed. Soon, we left the boggy basin at 6200′ and went up the scree.

Later, we went up to the 7240′ saddle between Fool Hen Southeast and Little Fool Hen Mountain. Then we followed the rocky south ridge for another 800′. At last, we reached our first summit of the trip.

Fool Hen Southeast from Drake Creek Basin
Fool Hen Southeast from Drake Creek Basin

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Fool Hen Mountain

After an extended visit soaking in the views, we crossed the ridge to Fool Hen Mountain. In my mind, I knew we likely wouldn’t find the trail up here either. So we stayed on and west of the crest for the traverse.

Meanwhile, we avoided several ridge bumps from the east. There were also many loose rocks from Point 8062 to Fool Hen Mountain. So we moved through the east of the ridgeline up to the top.

Fool Hen Mountain from Fool Hen Southeast
Fool Hen Mountain from Fool Hen Southeast

See more trip photos here.

Fool Hen Mountain Summit Views

Similarly, Fool Hen Mountain boasted a broad summit like Fool Hen Southeast. Here we celebrated the holiday with a few small flags. Then we enjoyed the evening views for a while.

Fool Hen Lake looked inviting. But I didn’t feel like climbing out of the basin in the morning. But Upper Fox Lake loomed like the better option. Plus, it’s on the way to our other goals.

Fool Hen Southeast from Fool Hen Mountain
Fool Hen Southeast from Fool Hen Mountain

See more trip photos here.


Day 2

Foxy Peak + Diamond Point + Bauble Butte + Skeptical Butte + Corral Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Foxy Peak

Morning came way too soon as we slowly rolled out of the tent by the lake. But I felt sleep-deprived from the constant croaking sounds of frogs in the night.

We walked around the crystal clear lake to the outlet for running water. Later, we ate breakfast under the blazing morning sun. Then we were off to today’s first goal: Foxy Peak.

Upper Fox Lake north shore
Upper Fox Lake north shore

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Foxy Peak Summit Views

Before long, we were walking up the fire-scorched west slopes north of Upper Fox Lake up to the top. We got more dramatic views of the neighboring peaks from this short-statured summit.

Devastation from last year’s fire in the Diamond Creek Basin was evident. But we stayed just long enough before mosquitoes could suck more blood out of us. The next stop was Diamond Point.

Bauble Butte and Diamond Point
Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Diamond Point

See more trip photos here.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Diamond Point

Foxy Peak shared a saddle with Diamond Point. After dropping 400′ on the north ridge, Diamond Point’s summit was only another 800′ above. The foundation on top looked like an old lookout.

The expansive Ashnola River with Ashnola Pass and Fawn Lake sat below the north face. It was quite the vantage point to view the snaking Diamond Creek. Afterward, we went to our third goal of the day: Bauble Butte, aka Zirconium Peak.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Bauble Butte
Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Bauble Butte

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Bauble Butte Summit Views

Bauble Butte’s long south ridgeline looked impressive from Diamond Point. But we bypassed the ridge and went onto the south slopes. It ended up being a leisurely walk up to the top.

The two points on this broad summit looked the same height-wise. But to get a better look at Ashnola River Valley, we stayed on the northern tip. Diamond Point’s north face looked impressive from here.

Western panoramic view on Bauble Butte
Western panoramic view on Bauble Butte

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Skeptical Butte

In need of water, we dropped into the lush basin between Bauble Butte and Point 7931. The fire had spared the vegetation there. But shortly, we were back into the burned forest on Trail #532.

Later we dropped onto the 6920′ pass between Point 7931 and Skeptical Butte. Then I stashed the gear, and we walked south and up Skeptical Butte’s east ridge. Soon, we finished the climb on class 2 terrain.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Skeptical Butte
Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Skeptical Butte

See more trip photos here.

Skeptical Butte Summit Views

The flat, broad summit felt like the set of The Sound of Music. We enjoyed a short and breezy visit before leaving. Back on the pass, we went west through the burn on the hard-to-follow Trail #532 with cairns guiding our way.

We lost the trail at 6700′, but we found it later before crossing Larch Creek. Trail #532 ended at the fork with Billy Goat Trail (#502) in the basin. Then we enjoyed a leisurely walk up to Larch Pass with only a few down logs en route.

Corral Peak from Skeptical Butte
Corral Peak from Skeptical Butte

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via Corral Peak

With much daylight left, we made Corral Peak our final stop. So from Larch Pass, we took the southwest ridge and reached the summit 1.5 hours before sunset. From there, we’d make our way into McCall Gulch.

Here we had excellent views of the evening colors! There was a dramatic contrast between the burnt areas and the super green McCall Gulch. We stayed half an hour on top before packing up.

West view on Corral Peak
West view on Corral Peak

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En Route to McCall Gulch

Even though the north ridge looked rugged, it was feasible for traversing. Corral Lake looked inviting and would make a perfect camp for the night. But again, I didn’t want to climb out of the lake basin in the morning.

Later, we walked the ridgeline and bypassed outcrops from the west. Then we went up to Point 7918. The vast landscape reminded me of last year’s Boundary Slam trip.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via McCall Gulch
Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness via McCall Gulch

See more trip photos here.

A Night in McCall Gulch

We spent some time looking for a place to camp. At last, we found a decent spot at 7200′. It came with excellent views to the south and a tiny stream. There was even a lone tree nearby to hang our food.

A couple of nearby deer watched us as we settled into camp. But they quickly wandered off after noticing the pup. Afterward, we turned in under a starry night for another long day ahead of us.

McCall Gulch sky
McCall Gulch sky

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Day 3

Sheep Mountain 8274 + Gabril Point + Sand Ridge

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

En Route to Sheep Mountain in Pasayten

Oh, the morning came way too soon, and we were too lazy to go outside. But it was exciting to see Sheep Mountain–our eighth and farthest goal by the Canadian border. Aka, my favorite crop line.

My GPS wouldn’t turn on this morning; blame it on the batteries. But we didn’t need it since this part of Billy Goat Trail was in excellent shape. It continued through to McCall Pass and into Timber Wolf Creek Basin.

Good morning mountains
Good morning mountains

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En route to Boundary Trail

On the way to Sheep Mountain, we bypassed a handful of down trees. Then we hiked through more burn areas east of Point 7365. We also saw lots of prairie dogs (gophers?) throughout here.

Billy Goat Trail later ended on Peeve Pass at the Boundary Trail (#533) and Park Pass Trail (#506) fork. The old Diamond Creek Fire closures sign was still up on one of the live trees.

Still hanging
Still hanging

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten South Route

The first 200′ up from the pass was still in the burn zone. Beyond that was the grassland where the fire had missed. Then we hiked through the meadow to Sheep Mountain’s east saddle.

From there, we got our first look at Sheep Lake 300′ below. We also got a close look at the mountain’s steep east face. On it was some leftover snow.

See more trip photos here.

Final Scramble on Sheep Mountain in Pasayten

A large boulder field had coated the entire south slopes of Sheep Mountain. Then we began the most fun part of the climb that lasted for 400′–boulder hopping! Not sure how the pup felt about that part.

Beyond the rocks was a mixture of small gravel and grass paths that guided us through the east rim. We continued to look down at Sheep Lake from various angles. Too bad I was too lazy to go into the lake basin.

Pre-summit dance below Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness
Pre-summit dance below Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness

See more trip photos here.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Summit Views

In the last three days, the places we visited all had one thing in common–a broad summit. So it took time to walk across the top to photograph. The pup napped for an hour while I enjoyed views into Canada.

Hard to believe we went all that way from Billy Goat Trailhead. Though, without any side trips, one-way from the trailhead would’ve only been 20 miles. That’s still a lot of mileage to climb a mountain if you asked me.

Northern panoramic view on Sheep Mountain 8274
Northern panoramic view on Sheep Mountain 8274

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten to Gabril Point

After spending an hour on top, we retraced our steps back to the pass to Billy Goat Trail. But before going over McCall Pass, we took a detour to Gabril Point (aka Timber Wolf Mountain) from the south.

The mountain was closer than it looked from the trail. So it took only a short time to reach the broad summit. Then we walked across the top and took a break on the north side by the high point.

Northern panoramic view on Sheep Mountain 8274
Looking back at Sheep Mountain in Pasayten from Gabril Point

See more trip photos here.

Gabril Point Back to McCall Pass

We didn’t stay long on this mountain because I forgot to bring an extra camera battery for the trip. I had hoped to make the one in use last until the end of the day.

It was another high point with open views. There was also Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Wilderness from where we came. Then half an hour down the ridge, we were back on the pass looking into McCall Gulch.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten from Gabril Point
Sheep Mountain in Pasayten from Gabril Point

See more trip photos here.

Side Trip to Sand Ridge

I knew we had enough daylight to go up to Sand Ridge. But I wasn’t sure about including Ashnola Mountain also. But we both took a power nap above the pass and then started walking.

It took a lot less time than I expected to reach the top. Then we enjoyed a half-hour break on top of another broad summit.

Sand Ridge summit above McCall Pass
Sand Ridge summit above McCall Pass

See more trip photos here.

Back to McCall Gulch

I thought for sure that we had time to visit Ashnola Mountain. But then the rain clouds slowly crept in from the southwest sky. So I decided it wasn’t worth being soaking wet in the downpour.

Sure enough, later, it drizzled just as we arrived back at camp. Then the rain came down hard just as we hurried into the tent! What perfect timing!

Rain's a-coming
Rain’s a-coming

See more trip photos here.

Day 4

Ashnola Mountain + Two Point Mountain

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Final Day in McCall Gulch

The rain stopped right before 6 AM on our last day. And the sunshine seeped through clouds with good weather ahead. While letting the tent dry, I decided to go up Ashnola Mountain before leaving McCall Gulch.

We didn’t see anyone on this trip other than deer, chipmunks, and prairie dogs. People were wise not to set foot inside an area that went through wildfires a year ago. I got more workouts from bypassing down trees than hauling gear.

En route to Ashnola Mountain
En route to Ashnola Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Side Trip to Ashnola Mountain

It didn’t take long before we were up on Whistler Pass peeking into the lush Whistler Basin. Luckily, the bulk of the drainage had escaped the destructive wildfire north of Ashnola Mountain.

It was a leisurely walk up to the top from the nearly flat east ridge. But a dip in the ridgeline required us to go down 150′ before finishing the final bit of climbing.

Whistler Basin
Whistler Basin

See more trip photos here.

Ashnola Mountain Summit Views

Words couldn’t describe what it’s like being in a remote place like this one. So I tell able people that they could consider making the long trek and experience it for themselves.

Expansive views, rolling hills, and solitude were only a few perks that came with being here. The terrain felt very much like the northeastern corner of the wilderness.

Two Point Mountain
Two Point Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Final Moments in McCall Gulch

Not all of the summits we visited came with a register. Fay Pullen happened to have placed one here. After an extended stay, we then walked back to camp.

It had generally been sunny all morning so that the tent could be dry by now. The pup had seen plenty of wildlife on this trip. So the ubiquitous prairie dogs were no longer a novelty.

Packing up for good
Packing up for good

See more trip photos here.

Sheep Mountain in Pasayten: Back to Larch Pass

My backpack felt much lighter now that we’ve eaten most of our food. Mister Cody doesn’t get hungry when we backpack, so I carried out most of his dry food. But it was still a light pack nonetheless.

So hard to leave this place after two nights. It was hands down one of the best camp spots I’ve stayed overnight. There were great views out to East Fork Pasayten River right before we went back on Larch Pass.

Leaving Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via McCall Gulch
Leaving Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via McCall Gulch

See more trip photos here.

En Route to Two Point Mountain

I had planned on stashing gear on Larch Pass. Then we would hike out via Billy Goat Trail after climbing Two Point Mountain. But I later changed my mind on the pass after looking at the route.

Since we had come up through Billy Goat Trail, I decided to carry over one last time. Then we’d exit on the mountain’s south ridge down to Dollar Watch Pass. We’d also see a different scenery that way.

Leaving Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Two Point Mountain
Leaving Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Two Point Mountain

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Two Point Mountain Summit Views

Two Point Mountain summit looked intimidating from Point 7759. But it was less so as we moved closer to the bottom. Meanwhile, we went through lots of giant boulders and slabs on the east ridge.

Below the top was a scree gully to finish the climb. It was another excellent high point with great views. So we stayed a long time before leaving the mountain.

Pre-summit dance below Two Point Mountain
Pre-summit dance below Two Point Mountain

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Outro

Dollar Watch Trail (#451) was in great shape until we crossed Tony Creek into the old burn. Then we saw down trees until the trail went around Point 6588’s south ridge. But going downhill, the logs weren’t as annoying.

We bypassed a handful of trees from Larch Creek to Billy Goat Trail. The path was decent until we neared Diamond Creek. The fire had devastated the area so much that even crossing Diamond Creek was laborious. A section of the trail had faded.

McCall Gulch one last time
McCall Gulch one last time

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Through Diamond Creek Fire Debris

Going around the Diamond Creek area wasn’t as fun. Most down logs had strategically placed themselves at a height where it wasn’t comfortable stepping over or crawling underneath. Sometimes we leaped over down trees only to find more in the next part of the trail.

The saga lasted to Three Fools Pass, where down trees dwindled. Hooray! But the clearing only lasted until before the Drake Creek Trail fork. Ugh, I thought we had left the worst part behind.

Painstaking
Through Diamond Creek Fire debris

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The Agonizing Exit

The next mile to the Trail #532 fork was the worst of the worst! We went on that trail on the way in and had missed all this mess. But going uphill wouldn’t have been so bad if it weren’t for the trenched path.

As if that wasn’t enough fun, most trees had branches crisscrossing the trail. So we ended up scrambling through this part. I had forgotten to document it with photos due to exhaustion. Meanwhile, an army of mosquitoes came out of nowhere to feast.

Through Three Fools Pass
Through Three Fools Pass

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Bowing Out

When we finally arrived at the junction with Trail #532, I had to stop and process what had just happened. If it weren’t for the love of views, I swear. Mosquitoes followed us up to Billy Goat Pass, but at least there were no more down trees to get through.

I realized something else just as we approached the hikers’ trailhead on the way down. I had entirely forgotten about the four-mile road walk back to the car.

Two passes await
Two passes await

See more trip photos here.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

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