Low Mountain by Granite Mountain / 靠花崗岩山的低矮山

Our first trip to Low Mountain was seven years ago. Back then, I mistook Point 5381 for the real summit. But then I saw a higher point in the mist. I later checked my GPS track and knew we didn’t make it. If we did, we would have seen both Kaleetan Peak and Chair Peak rising high to the north.

The Low Mountain summit is calling
The Low Mountain summit is calling

See more trip photos here.

Low Mountain at a Glance

Access: NF-5800 gate
Round Trip: 11 miles
Elevation Range: 1880′-5400′
Gear: Microspikes, snowshoes, ice ax
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

Road 5800

I had forgotten to check the latest road conditions. So I ended up parking under the Interstate 90 overpass by the gate. Then we spent the extra time walking 2.7 miles to the trailhead. The service road was incredibly icy.

Packed snow began in the last half a mile before the Franklin Falls and Melakwa Lake Trailheads. So I used microspikes to go through this park. Then we continued through to the Denny Creek crossing. When the fresh boot tracks ended here, I then switched to snowshoes.

Road walk
Road walk

See more trip photos here.

Low Mountain Climb

We got on the summer trail on the other side of the creek. Then we hiked to the first switchback and left the trail there. Shortly, we went west in Denny Lake Basin in the open terrain. Then we crossed the steep boulder field with cliffs on our right. We moved northwest and then north to go up into the upper basin at 4000′.

Snow quality was poor. Then it took a while to reach Low Mountain’s south-east ridge at 4900′. There we got our first view of the high points towering above Denny Creek Basin. They included Kaleetan Peak, Chair Peak, Bryant Peak, Hemlock Peak, and The Tooth. Right then, the wind started to blow.

The Low Mountain crew
The Low Mountain crew

See more trip photos here.

Low Mountain South Ridge

We continued to plow through snow in poor conditions while. At the same time, we tried hard to avoid the wind in the dense forest. From the south ridge, I spotted a tiny bit of the real summit poking out from behind Point 5381. Slowly, the trees thinned out as views around us formed. Then we continued north in wind gusts.

Later, we went up to Point 5381 as a sanity check. Sure enough, the real summit taller by 25′ was less than a quarter of a mile away. So we dropped down on the north side. Then we continued fighting the east wind to reach the summit at last.

Ridge view
Ridge view

See more trip photos here.

Low Mountain Summit

As soon as we got up to the summit, we went down onto the west slopes. So we could hide from the wind. It continued for the rest of our visit. But we were able to savor the views by staying below the crest. It was another glorious day in the Cascades!

I remembered the views were spotty during our first trip. We only saw the nearby high points like Granite MountainMount Defiance, and Silver Peak. However, today’s views reached as far north as Big Snow Mountain. They also reached as far south as Mount Adams. Then there were the impressive view of the dynamic duo-Kaleetan Peak and Chair Peak.

Northeast panoramic view
Northeast panoramic view

See more trip photos here.

Outro

Late arrival on the summit meant would spend part of the exit in the dark. So we hurried and went back down to the Denny Lake Basin. Later, we got back on the Melakwa Lake Trail just before dark. But I wasn’t looking forward to the 2.7-mile road walk back to the car.

Outro
Outro

See more trip photos here.

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