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

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Genius by Dumbell Mountain sits two miles west of Mount Fernow above Spider Meadow. It ranks #10 in North Entiat Mountains after Ice Box. Meanwhile, Phelps Creek Trail offers a direct way to this lesser-known peak.

Genius above Spider Meadow
Genius above Spider Meadow

See more trip photos here.

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 the Lost River. Then this weekend, a last-minute change in plans brought us back to Glacier Peak Wilderness. It looked like snow was coming, and Genius could be our final peak this season.

I had planned to open our summer climbs with Genius over Memorial Day weekend. Instead, I decided to visit the wildfire-prone Pasayten Wilderness. Sure enough, McLeod Fire broke out in the late summer.

A quiet morning walk
A quiet morning walk

See more trip photos here.

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 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.

Spider Meadow
Spider Meadow

See more trip photos here.

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 helped 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.

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

See more trip photos here.

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.

Genius actual summit
Genius actual summit

See more trip photos here.

In Search of the Real Genius

We moved over to the neighboring pinnacle below the ridge but soon 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 500′ away.

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

Northern panoramic view
Northern panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Genius Summit Views

The sun-lit neighbors looked even more stunning after a dusting of new snow. Bonanza Peak, tucked between Dumbell Mountain and Greenwood Mountain, looked much closer. Copper Peak and 7FJ were merely within arm’s reach. 

Most western peaks had faded into the afternoon clouds. Chiwawa Mountain, Buck Mountain, and Luahna Peak were some notable high points. I even got a rare look at Sitting Bull Mountain and Plummer Mountain.

Phelps Creek Valley before sunset
Phelps Creek Valley before sunset

See more trip photos here.

Outro

We retraced our steps back to the 6800′ basin. Dropping another 2000′ put us back on the trail at 4800′ before sunset. The six-mile walk to the car wasn’t exciting, but it went by in the blink of an eye.

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