See more trip photos here.
Somehow for hikes as straightforward as Lyman Hill, pup and I, or rather, I tend to get ourselves into a pickle. Judging from the GPS track I downloaded, the approach looked to be noneventful (all service roads), without the need to scramble or bushwack. So I decided not to load the GPS track, but that turned out to be a bad idea.
The Lowdown on Lyman Hill
Access: Hathaway Road (gated)
Round Trip: 14.7 miles
Elevation Range: 440′-4280′
GPS track available upon request
The Road Walk
A late Saturday morning errand put us on the road later than anticipated; pup and I didn’t get to the gated road until close to noon. But being that this was supposed to be a straightforward hike with roughly seven miles of road walk each way, I thought it’d take us no more than two and a half hours to reach the top of Lyman Hill.
After reading a few reports from years past, it appeared that we’d be able to stay on the main road and hike all the way to the summit with a radio facility. I made a mental note of a problem area by the road junction around 3400′. There I notice several people’s tracks had initially followed what looked to be the logical route, but all had turned around after a short distance.
As it turned out, our problem wasn’t the problem area at 3400′, but rather a few hundred feet below it. At 2,900′, the main road took a turn and headed north. About another 500′ up from the road bend was the inconspicuous turnoff we would have taken to continue on the standard approach. But since the spur road angled south, I had completely missed it. Oh, and there were a ton of spur roads that weren’t on the map.
The “Extra” Road Walk
We stayed the main road and hiked to its end at 3200′ below the massive logging debris. That’s when I realized we had somehow deviated from the standard route somewhere along the way. Funny, for a hike that shouldn’t have involved scrambling or bushwacking, we ended up doing just that over the debris in search of another old road shown on the GPS.
At 3400′ we finally stumbled upon the old road, and it was “unmaintained” just as advertised on the map. I highly doubted that anyone had set foot on the brushy road since the last logging activity took place. Half a mile of hiking down the road, it became increasingly brushy and deeply rutted in some sections. We bypassed those sections through thick growth and slide alder and eventually came out onto an open service road.
Judging by my GPS, we were now traveling parallel to the main road at 300′ higher. The mountain didn’t appear to have much snow when I looked while driving through the neighborhood, but now I wish I had packed my snowshoes! I put on microspikes for the icy section, but as we gained more elevation the fresh powder started to become annoying.
The standard approach would reach the radio towers from the south ridge; the service road we took ended on the north ridge half a mile north of the summit. The extra road walk and the unanticipated fresh snow ended up costing us an extra hour plus an extra mile. We arrived at the cloud-shrouded summit at 45 minutes before sunset, eek!
The sky had gotten cloudier earlier in the day, so I doubted we’d get any views had we arrived an hour earlier. The temperature reading on my GPS was 30 degrees, but despite the light breeze, the summit didn’t feel as cold. My third attempt to record a video for my upcoming YouTube channel, and I got a kick out of watching myself speak with my upper lip half frozen. Good times.
We left Lyman Hill summit at sunset, but I was determined to figure out where we had missed the turnoff on the way up. Following along the south ridge to 4000′, we then cut through the forest before the first road junction and headed west. At 3600′ we intersected what looked to be the main road that barely had any snow on it!
We followed the road for one and a half miles and got through a short section of the forest toward the end before getting out onto the junction where we had missed the turnoff. But on the bright side, we both got an extra mile of conditioning!
See more trip photos here.