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

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

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

See more trip photos here.

See this post for Sheep Mountain by Mountain Loop Highway.

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

Logistics Overview

July 4-7, 2019

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

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. Without a sound backup plan, we bit the bullet and walked four miles up to Billy Goat Trailhead.

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.

See more trip photos here.

Fool Hen Southeast

We continued to travel east from the 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 Mountain from Fool Hen Southeast
Fool Hen Mountain from Fool Hen Southeast

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Fool Hen Mountain

After an extended break soaking in the views, we began crossing the ridge over to Fool Hen Mountain. In my mind, I knew we likely wouldn’t find the trail up here either. So we stayed on or west of the crest.

At the same time, we avoided several ridge bumps. There were lots of loose rocks from Point 8062 to Fool Hen Mountain. So we moved through the east of the ridgeline up to the top.

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
Bauble Butte and Diamond Point

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Diamond Point

Foxy Peak shared a saddle with Diamond Point. So after dropping 400′ on the north ridge, the Diamond Point summit was just another 800′ away. The foundation on top looked like it’s from an old lookout tower.

We saw the expansive Ashnola River Valley with Ashnola Pass and Fawn Lake below the north face. It was also a vantage point to view the snaking Diamond Creek. Later we took off to our third goal of the day: Bauble Butte, aka Zirconium Peak.

Bauble Butte of Diamond Slam
Bauble Butte of Diamond Slam

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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.

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten 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 went down to the 6920′ pass between Point 7931 and Skeptical Butte. After stashing gear, we walked south and up Skeptical Butte’s east ridge. Soon, we finished the climb on class 2 terrain.

Skeptical Butte of Diamond Slam
Skeptical Butte of Diamond Slam

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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 just a few down logs en route.

Corral Peak
Corral Peak

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten via Corral Peak

With much daylight left, we made Corral Peak our final stop. Then we would make our way into McCall Gulch. From Larch Pass, we went up the southwest ridge and reached the top at 1.5 hours before sunset.

Here we had excellent views of the evening colors! This high point also gave the dramatic contrast between the burnt areas and the lush McCall Gulch.

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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. 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.

McCall Gulch
McCall Gulch

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A Night in McCall Gulch

We spent some time looking for a water source. At last, w 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 I set up the tent. But the animals wandered off right after seeing the pup moving beside me. Later we turned in after dinner under a starry night. We had another long day ahead.

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. We were also too lazy to go outside. But it was exciting to see Sheep Mountain–our eighth and farthest goal up by the Canadian border. Aka, the international crop line.

My GPS wouldn’t turn on this morning– damn batteries. Surprisingly, this part of Billy Goat Trail was in excellent shape. The path 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 few 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 grassland where the fire had missed. Then we hiked over the grassland 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.

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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
Pre-summit dance below Sheep Mountain in Pasayten

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Sheep Mountain in Pasayten Summit Views

In the last three days, the places we visiteds 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 didn’t take long to reach the broad summit. Then we walked across the top and then took a break on the north side.

See more trip photos here.

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 a great view of Sheep Mountain in Pasayten from where we just came. Half an hour down the ridge, and 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.

See more trip photos here.

Back to McCall Gulch

I thought we still had time to visit Ashnola Mountain. But then the rain clouds slowly crept in from the southwestern horizon. So I decided it wasn’t worth the risk of stuck in a 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

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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.

Other than deer, chipmunks, and prairie dogs, we didn’t see anyone on this trip. People were wise not to set foot inside an area that just 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 just north of Ashnola Mountain.

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

Whistler Basin
Whistler Basin

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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.

See more trip photos here.

Back to Larch Pass

My backpack felt much lighter now that we’ve eaten most of our food. The dog doesn’t tend to get very hungry when we backpack. So I had to carry out most of his dry food.

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.

Thanks for being a great host
Thanks for being a great host

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En Route 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 changed my mind later on the pass.

Since we came up through Billy Goat Trail, I decided to do one last carry-over. We would then exit via the mountain’s south ridge down to Dollar Watch Pass. I wanted different scenery.

See more trip photos here.

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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Fighting the Good Fight

Getting around the Diamond Creek area wasn’t as fun. Most fallen trees strategically placed themselves at a height where it wasn’t comfortable stepping over or crawling underneath. Occasionally, we were able to leap over down trees. But then we hopped off only to find more trees in the next section of the trail.

The saga lasted to Three Fools Pass, where down trees finally dwindled. Hooray! But the tree-free trail only continued to the junction with Drake Creek Trail (#502A), north of Drake Creek. Just when I thought we had left the worst of the down trees behind.

Painstaking
Painstaking

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The Agonizing Exit

The next mile to the junction with Trail #532 south of Drake was by far the worst of the worst! By taking Trail #532 on the way in, we missed the best part of Billy Goat Trail. Going up moderate terrain wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the large section of the trenched trail.

As if that wasn’t enough fun. Most trees across the trail with fanning branches welcomed us as we fought through them. We scrambled through most of this section; it wasn’t worth spending more time to try and stay on the trail. I forgot to document this part of the experience with photos due to exhaustion. At the same time, an army full of mosquitoes came out of nowhere and began to feast.

Two passes await
Two passes await

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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.

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

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