Genius by Dumbell Mountain via Spider Meadow + Phelps Creek Trail / 天賦峯

  • Reading time:4 mins read

Genius by Dumbell Mountain above Spider Meadow is just two miles west of the notable Mount Fernow. Meanwhile, it ranks #10 highest in North Entiat Mountains after Ice Box. Best of all, the scenic Phelps Creek Trail offers the most direct way to reach this less-known peak.

Genius, a true maven

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Genius at a Glance

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

The Preface

Last week, we visited a few places along Lost River. Then this weekend, a last-minute change in plans brought us back to Glacier Peak Wilderness. It looked like snow was on the way. So Genius could be our final peak on the bucket list this season.

I had planned to open the season with Genius over Memorial Day weekend. Instead, we visited the wildfire-prone Pasayten Wilderness first. Sure enough, McLeod Fire broke out in the late summer.

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Phelps Creek Trail

There was a long line of cars at the trailhead. The register entries to Carne Mountain and Spider Meadow suggested the last-minute rush for fall colors. Meanwhile, hunting season was still in full swing.

On the way to the meadow, I chatted with several day hiking groups. Later the pup and I took a break before the stream off 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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Genius West Basin

To bypass the slide alder lower down, we stayed near the stream. Then we went up using animal tracks left of the water gully. Tree branches were helpful to keep from slipping on mud and steep, wet slabs.

The terrain opened up past 5400′. Then we had several options to bypass cliffs and outcrops. Interestingly, the closer we were to the upper basin, the more larches appeared.

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En Route to the Summit Ridge

From west of Genius at 6800′, we went northeast through the broad, flat basin. Then we continued toward the minor rib that led us up to the summit ridge. But before that, we briefly went through a mixture of scree and mud.

Lower down, pockets of snow and snowmelt covered the downsloping slab. In contrast, the higher terrain had scree over loose rocks and ledges. It’s amazing what little wetness and a thin layer of new snow could do to slow us down.

Heading to the actual summit
Genius real summit

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In Search of the Real Genius

Just below the ridge, we moved over to the neighboring pinnacle. But then I realized I had mistaken it for the summit. So we made our way back to the saddle. Then we walked southeast up to the actual high point at 500′ away.

The summit offered little seating but with lots of exposure. Plus, there was just enough new snow to make moving around a bit tricky. Then I carefully checked out the steep northeast side.

North panoramic view
North panoramic view

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Genius Summit Views

Views of the sun-lit, taller neighbors were simply breathtaking. They looked even more impressive 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 visible 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 later went back down to the 6800′ basin. Then another 2000′ of drop put us back down on the trail at 4800′. We arrived there just before sunset. The six-mile hike back to the car wasn’t all that exciting. But it went by quickly.

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