Genius via Spider Meadow / 經蜘蛛草原上天賦峯

Genius, a true maven

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The Lowdown on Genius

Access: Phelps Creek Trailhead
Round Trip: 15.5 miles
Elevation Range: 3520′-8039′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

Phelps Creek Trail

We visited the Lost Slam last week. This week, a last-minute plan change had us tackle possibly the final bucket list peak of the season. Genius was going to be our season opener. But then I decided first to visit the wildfire-prone Pasayten Wilderness over Memorial Day weekend. Genius deserved a special mention since my effort in including it on two separate trips was to no avail.

Just as expected, a long line of cars awaited us at the trailhead. Trailhead register entries to Carne Mountain and Spider Meadow suggested the last-minute rush for fall colors. On the way to Spider Meadow, we met and chatted several groups of day hikers. The pup and I stopped before the stream flowing down from Genius’ west basin. Then at 4800′, we left the trail and scrambled north through the light brush.

You've all been hiding
You’ve all been hiding

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Beyond Spider Meadow

To bypass the slide alder in the lower elevations, we stayed close to the stream. Then we followed several game trails on climbers’ left. The branches were helpful to keep from slipping down on mud and wet slabs on steep ground. The terrain then opened up past 5400′ with several route options to bypass cliffs and outcrops. The closer we got to the upper basin, the more larches we began to see.

From the west of Genius at 6800′, we crossed the broad and flat basin to its east end. Then from there, we moved east toward a minor rib that would lead us up to the summit ridge. But not before we had to go through a short section of unpleasant scree and mud.

Heading to the actual summit
Genius real summit

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In Search of Genius

Pockets of snow and snowmelt covered most of the downsloping slabs in the lower elevation. But in contrast, the higher grounds had abundant loose rocks and wet scree-covered ledges. Incredible what little wetness and a thin layer of new snow could do to slow us down significantly.

So near the top of the ridge, we moved to a nearby pinnacle mistaking it for the summit. Then after getting back down to the saddle, we scrambled southeast to the real summit 500′ away. The exposed summit offered a little seating area. Plus, there was just enough new snow to make moving around a bit tricky. I carefully checked out the steep northeast face.

North panoramic view
North panoramic view

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Genius Summit Views

Views of the sun-lit, taller neighbors were simply breathtaking. They’re even more so after receiving a dusting of new snow. Dumbell Mountain, Greenwood Mountain, Copper Peak, Mount Fernow, 7FJ, and Mount Maude were merely within my grasp. From here, the impressive Bonanza Peak tucked in between Dumbell and Greenwood looked closer than it did.

Most of the Bulger list peaks to the west, including Glacier Peak, were starting to fade into the afternoon clouds. Other high points included Phelps Ridge, Chiwawa Mountain, Fortress Mountain, Buck Mountain, Clark Mountain, and Luahna Peak. But they were all beginning to drown in their shadows cast by the glowing sun.

Phelps Creek Valley before sunset
Phelps Creek Valley before sunset

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We followed our route and quickly went back down to the 6800′ basin. Then another 2000′ descent put us back down on the trail at 4800′ before sunset. The six-mile hike back to the car wasn’t all that exciting.

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