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

  • Reading time:8 mins read

Cascade Mountain by Malachite Peak stands 1.5 miles south of the north peak. Both remote high points don’t see many visitors in a given year. While traversing the ridge from Morpheus is doable, Gouging Lake continues to be 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 Crossing

The road hadn’t changed much in seven years. But in the first mile was a new pile of trees. Then in mile 2, we bypassed a short, washed-out trail. The hike to the Coney Creek crossing at mile 3 was sometimes rocky but overall smooth sailing.

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

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Coney Creek to Miller River Crossing

Soon on the other side, we began postholing some. But there wasn’t yet enough snow to use snowshoes. Since the part beyond Coney Creek didn’t get much foot traffic, it was naturally brushier. Even so, the 1.75 miles to the river was a breeze.

Glad I had marked the log crossing on my GPS before and saw it before we left the trail. The full-body width down tree was damp and slippery. So I used microspikes to avoid slipping into the raging river six feet below.

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Unnamed Creek Crossing to Gouging Lake

Our third and the least challenging crossing was at 2400′. From there, we went over the south of the stream out of Gouging Lake. Then for the next 1500′, we went southeast through steep hills. It was brushy until we saw snow.

Soon, I put on snowshoes in the final 600′ up to Gouging Lake. The terrain steepened but then slowly flattened as we neared the outlet. After a short break, we walked clockwise around the shore to the southwest end.

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Water Gully up to West Slopes

The steep lower gully plus the unstable snow in the center had us hug the cliffs to the east. Then we moved up through dry rocks and small trees before going back on snow. Once above the waterfall, we snowshoed up the moderate hill.

We stayed west in the upper basin to avoid likely snow slides and reached the west ridge at 4700′. Then we moved east through rolling terrain to the north of the summit. The 300′ climb to the jagged north ridgeline was steep. But the map showed smooth contour lines.

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Cascade Mountain Is Snowing

It began to snow as we arrived at the north shoulder, where we rested a bit. From what I could tell, a snow arête with cornices had draped the narrow ridgeline. But the unexpected snowfall had complicated things even more.

We soon went down to the trees; then I left the pup to watch the snowshoes and went up alone. Even though microspikes worked, I wish I had crampons. But the rocks on the west turned out to be more forgiving than the ridge.

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A Brief Visit on Cascade Mountain Summit

It was hard to tell how much of the arête was the cornice versus on top of the rocks. So I dug in the ice ax and tried not to lean forward. Then I quickly took a video clip and hurried down to reunite with the pup.

Because of low visibility, we waited for clouds to move first. Then we hurried back to the upper basin when we saw the ridgeline again. Although I was sliding with snowshoes on, I needed them for the slush.

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Back to Gouging Lake and Out

Snowfall continued after we went back to the lake basin. But of course, the moisture higher up had yielded in the rain and wet vegetation lower down the mountain.

Soon, we retraced our tracks and repeated the three water crossings. I later picked up a dead plastic balloon as we went down to Miller River. Crossing Coney Creek on the way out went by much quicker.

Back to Gouging Lake
Back to Gouging Lake

See more trip photos here.

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