Cascade Mountain via Gouging Lake / 經鑿洞湖上喀斯喀特山

  • Reading time:5 mins read

Cascade Mountain was a drastic landscape change from yesterday’s outing. Seven years had passed since we first came here to climb Lennox Mountain. Then four years ago, we had a late start and made it up to Gouging Lake before turning around. But this time, I wanted to see the mountain up close.

Cascade Mountain above Gouging Lake
Cascade Mountain above Gouging Lake

See more trip photos here.

Cascade Mountain at a Glance

Access: West Fork Miller River Road
Round Trip: 14.6 miles
Elevation Range: 1280′-5591′
Gear: snowshoes, ice ax, microspikes
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: no

Miller River Road to Coney Creek Crossing

The road conditions hadn’t changed much since the last time. But there was a new pile of down trees in the first mile. Then in mile 2, we bypassed a short section of washed out trail. The hike to the Coney Creek crossing at mile 3 was, at times, rocky. But it was overall smooth sailing.

I couldn’t remember where we had crossed the raging Coney Creek before. So this time, we went upstream first. But there wasn’t the right place to cross. Then we moved 250′ downstream from the trail. There we hopped over to the other side using log debris and rocks.

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Coney Creek to Miller River Crossing

Once we were on the other side, we began postholing some. But there still wasn’t enough snow on the ground to use snowshoes. Since the part beyond Coney Creek doesn’t get as much foot traffic, it was brushier. Even so, the rest 1.75-mile walk was a breeze.

Glad I had marked the log crossing on my GPS the first time. So I was able to locate the tree even before we left the trail. The big log in full body-width was a bit damp and slippery. So I used microspikes to keep from slipping into the raging river six feet below.

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Unnamed Creek Crossing to Gouging Lake

Our third and the least time-consuming creek crossing was at 2400′. We went to the south side of the stream flowing out of Gouging Lake. So for the next 1500′, we moved southeast toward the lake basin on steep slopes. The terrain was mostly brushy until there was snow.

I put on snowshoes in the last 600′ up to Gouging Lake. The terrain steepened. But then it gradually flattened once we moved closer to the outlet. After a short break, we continued clockwise around the lake to the southwest end.

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Water Gully up to West Slopes

The lower part of the gully was steep with uneven snow cover in the middle. So we stayed to the left below the cliffs. Then we went above the drainage using dry rocks and small trees. Above the waterfall, we were back on snow. Then we continued uphill.

In the upper basin, we stayed on the right to avoid potential snow slides above. We made it up on the west ridge at 4700′. Then we moved east through rolling hills to the base of the summit. The 300′ up to the craggy north ridge was, in fact, steep. But in contrast, the map showed moderate contour lines.

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Cascade Mountain Is Snowing

It started to snow after we went up to the north shoulder. We then rested a bit. From what I could tell, a snow arête with cornices covered what looked like a narrow summit ridge. The unexpected snowfall complicated things on the steep terrain.

So, I asked the pup to keep an eye on the snowshoes and stay in the trees. Meanwhile, I went to tag the summit by myself. I wish I had packed crampons, but microspikes worked out fine on semi-soft, steep snow. The rocks on the west face looked much more feasible than going through the arête.

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A Brief Visit on Cascade Mountain

It was hard to tell how much of the arête was part of the cornices. Or how much of it was on top of the rocks. So I took just a few steps up on the snow while digging in the ice ax. At the same time, I tried not to lean forward. Then I took a quick video clip before downclimbing to reunite with the pup.

Because of poor visibility, we waited around for clouds to move. Then we quickly went back down to the upper basin when we could see the ridgeline again. Even though I was sliding in places with snowshoes, I needed them for the soft snow.

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Back to Gouging Lake and Out

It was still snowing after we got back to the lake basin. But of course, all of the precipitation higher up would result in rain and wet vegetation lower down the mountain.

We reversed our route and repeated the three creek crossings. I picked up a dead plastic balloon on the way down to Miller River. It was much faster to cross Coney Creek on the way out.

Back to Gouging Lake
Back to Gouging Lake

See more trip photos here.

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