Treen Peak by Garfield Mountain in Alpine Lakes Wilderness / 特林峯

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Treen Peak by Garfield Mountain in Alpine Lakes Wilderness doesn’t see many guests. The distinct peak stands at a modest 5763 feet. But it ranks the #10 highest in the North-Middle Forks Snoqualmie area.

Treen Peak in full display
Treen Peak in full display

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Treen Peak at a Glance

Access: NF-5620 @ mile 4.3
Round Trip: 7.6 miles
Elevation Range: 1320′-5763′
Gear: snowshoes, microspikes
Route Info: Schmidt Altitude
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

Treen Peak

I first saw Treen Peak from Snoqualmie Mountain. Through the years, I continued to notice this distinct summit from other places. The peak looks deceivingly remote on the map. But depending on the conditions, it’s more accessible from the south.

Though, for us, the crux wasn’t the climbing. But the way we took to get to the starting point. So I’ve since added the climb to roads unsuitable for non-SUVs. The worst part was the two dips past the washed-out area.

A misty morning
A misty morning

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South Route via Green Ridge Trail

We used the same trail to go up Galleon Mountain last November. Like before, the moderate incline only lasted a couple of hundred feet. Then the path rose steeply up the ridge to 4800′. We averaged 1700 ft/mi in the initial two miles.

Microspikes worked well in inches of continuous snow at 3000′. But later we lost the trail to deeper snow. Then I put on snowshoes higher up at 3600′. Despite the partly sunny forecast, it was a blue sky high above the mist.

A tad messy
A tad messy

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Terrible Snow Quality

Snow conditions were terrible from the get-go. It might even be the worst we’ve seen. Sadly, the rising morning temperature softened the snow at a fast pace. So we only had about 10% of decent snow throughout. But glad not to have to break out crampons or ice ax.

I’ve used the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes for years. But I just mailed in mine because the hooks around the frame had come off. The MSR Evo Ascent rental worked poorly without the heel lifts. The traction was subpar too. So my calves and thighs were in overdrive for the whole trip.

Treen Peak crew
Treen Peak crew

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Green Ridge Traverse

The sky had long cleared before we reached the ridgetop. But it continued to snow bomb in the forest. We traversed the crest just as views formed on both sides. Preacher Mountain and Garfield Mountain were the first to show. Soon, Floating Rock and Big Snow Mountain followed.

At first, I wanted to bypass the bump above Lake 4662 by going around it. But it was much easier to go over the west end to avoid sidestepping through steep hillsides. From the top, we had our first sighting of Treen Peak. Woot!

Ridgeview
Ridgeview

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Upper Garfield Mountain Lake Basin

Soon, we were down by Lake 4662. The massive Treen Peak was now front and center. We dropped down the steep gully west of the snow-covered pond. Later we reached the big, beautiful upper lake at the top of the basin.

The impressive Garfield Mountain stood above the serene lake. But only the east peak was visible from here. Other than the occasional releases on the mountain’s north side, it was absolutely still. The only sound I heard was my heavy breathing!

Garfield Mountain and Upper Garfield Mountain Lake
Garfield Mountain and Upper Garfield Mountain Lake

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Charlie Brown Lake

Shortly, we reached Upper Garfield Mountain Lake’s north shore. From there, we worked our way up in the steep forest to Charlie Brown Lake. But in hindsight, we could’ve been on milder terrain by going up through the lake’s outlet to avoid rolling hills.

Later we went down to the west shore. Then it was only another 1300′ to reach the top of Treen Peak. But the annoying snow conditions had us move at turtle speed. Though, glad it wasn’t the wet stuff that would’ve heightened the avalanche danger.

Charlie Brown Lake covered in snow
Charlie Brown Lake covered in snow

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Treen Peak South Route

From the lake, we went directly up the south face. But we stayed close to the trees. So we could avoid the open slopes whenever possible. Slowly, we made it up to the 5500′ notch by the protruding rock on the south ridge.

The incline eased a bit in the final 200′. But we continued to sink with every step. At least the summit was now within our grasp. Perhaps it felt more exhausting because we haven’t done a real snow climb since before the snowstorms!

Treen Peak's south face
Treen Peak’s south face

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Treen Peak Summit Plus Views

From Charlie Brown Lake, we gained 1300′ in half a mile. But we made it! The elogated top had cornices on the north side. I vividly remembered seeing them from Morpheus. So we steered clear from the edges. We’re all ready for a big lunch after the intense workout!

Clouds started forming in the skyline earlier. But most had lifted by the time we reached the top. So peaks in the vicinity, like Cascade Mountain and Rooster Mountain, were all still visible. Though, the eastern sky was too hazy to see anything.

Southwestern panoramic view from Treen Peak summit
Southwestern panoramic view from Treen Peak summit

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Outro

The only other thing I dreaded other than the snow was going back up to Lake 4662. But we had to regain the 800′ we lost on the way down to Upper Garfield Mountain Lake. Alas, a first-world problem.

This place was so pretty that I didn’t want to leave. Had I known how beautiful the lake basins were, I would’ve considered hauling up the overnight gear. But we’d also need to head out before Sunday’s downpour.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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First Cougar Sighting

The sky darkened when we were back on the lower Green Ridge Trail. Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw two eyes glistening at 50 feet away. I thought of a deer at first until the long, thick tail indicated otherwise.

The cougar had crouched on a down log while scoping out the yellow lab below me. Not wanting to repeat history, I reached out my arms and banged my poles while chanting loudly.

Only then did the animal notice me. Then it instantly turned around and fast disappeared into the dark. I continued to make noises before we started moving again. Though, the dogs were completely unaware of the creature.

At last, after 12 years of hiking, I came face to face with a live cougar. So I was on high alert for the rest of the hike out. Banging poles, chanting, and blowing the whistle with two confused dogs strapped to my sides–priceless.

Mount Rainier's send-off
Mount Rainier’s send-off

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Peggy Shih

    Thanks for the beautiful, scenic photos. You and your dogs sure got work out on this one. Woo, I am glad that cougar retreated and you and dogs are okay.

    1. onehikeaweek

      You’re welcome, and thanks! First time for everything.

  2. Carla Schauble

    Nice! Matt and I did a spring overnight trip to Treen either last year of the year before. I really enjoyed the solitude! I would have been a little freaked out seeing a cougar that close!

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