Cascade Mountain by Malachite Peak via Gouging Lake / 喀斯喀特山

  • Reading time:8 mins read

Cascade Mountain by Malachite Peak lies 1.5 miles south of the north peak. Both high points see a few visitors in a given year. While it’s doable to come from Morpheus, Gouging Lake remains the preferred way to the peak.

Cascade Mountain above Gouging Lake
Cascade Mountain above Gouging Lake

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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

Apart from the new tree pile in the first mile, the road hasn’t changed much in seven years. Soon, we bypassed a short, washed-out area at mile 2. The hike to Coney Creek at mile 3 was sometimes rocky but smooth sailing.

My old GPS track didn’t help get us to where we had crossed the raging Coney Creek before. So we went upstream but couldn’t find a decent place. Then we walked 250′ down from the trail and found a log pile with rocks to cross.

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Coney Creek to Miller River Crossing

Postholing soon began on the other side, but not enough snow to use snowshoes. Since the part beyond Coney Creek didn’t see much foot traffic, it was naturally brushier. But despite that, the 1.75 miles to the river was a breeze.

Glad I marked the log crossing on my GPS before and saw it before leaving the trail. The full-body width down tree was damp and slippery this time. So I used microspikes to avoid plunging into the raging water six feet below.

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Unnamed Creek to Gouging Lake

Our third and easiest water crossing was at 2400′. From there, we went over the south of the stream out of Gouging Lake. Then for the next 1500′, we continued southeast through the steep, brushy terrain until we found snow.

Soon, I put on snowshoes in the 600′ leading to the lake. The terrain steepened but slowly flattened as we neared the outlet. After a short break, we walked east around the shoreline to the southwest.

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Water Gully to West Slopes

The steep lower gully with unstable snow in the middle had us hugging the east cliffs. We moved through dry rocks and small trees before returning to snow. Once above the waterfall, we snowshoed across the mild terrain.

Staying west in the upper basin let us reach the west ridge at 4700′. Then we moved east over rolling terrain to the north of the summit. The 300′ leading to the jagged crest was steep despite the map showing smooth contours.

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Cascade Mountain Is Snowing

It snowed when we reached the north shoulder, where we took a break. From what I could tell, the narrow ridge was now under a snow arête with cornices. But the surprising snowfall had complicated things just a tad.

We returned to the trees, where I situated the pup to watch the snowshoes. Then I went up alone after putting on microspikes, but crampons would’ve worked much better. The rocks on the west slope were much more forgiving.

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A Brief Visit to Cascade Mountain Summit

It was hard to tell how much of the arête was on the cornice versus on top of the rocks. So I dug in the ice ax and put my weight on the hillside. Then I quickly took a video clip before hurrying down to reunite with the pup.

Ther to low visibility, we waited for the clouds to shift before walking. Then we rushed down to the upper basin, where we saw the ridgeline again. Although I was sliding with snowshoes, I needed them to go through the slush.

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Back to Gouging Lake and Out

It continued to snow even after we went back to the lake basin. But of course, the flurries higher up meant rain and wet vegetation lower on the mountain. We followed our tracks until I could finally take off the snowshoes.

Soon, we scrambled through the brush and repeated the three water crossings. En route, I picked up a dead plastic balloon before reaching Miller River. But going over Coney Creek on the way out went much quicker.

En route back to Gouging Lake
En route back to Gouging Lake

See more trip photos here.

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