Terrace Mountain by Dip Top Peak via Tonga Ridge Trail / 梯田山

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Terrace Mountain by Dip Top Peak sits above Fisher Lake Basin near Tonga Ridge. Lake Clarice and Marmot Lake nestle at its east foothills. Meanwhile, it shares a ridgeline with Jumar Mountain and Shroud Mountain to the west.

Terrace Mountain from Shroud Mountain
Terrace Mountain from Shroud Mountain

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Terrace Mountain at a Glance

Access: Tonga Ridge East Trailhead
Round Trip: 12 miles
Elevation Range: 3680′-6361′
Gear: helmet
Route Info: Brett Dyson, Brian Hill
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: with guidance

The Preface on Terrace Mountain

Terrace Mountain is unique for its terrace-like east face, visible from the southeast to the east. Coincidentally, today’s three peaks all sported similar rock layers through sedimentary activities on the sheer north flank.

I wanted to take the dogs backpacking this weekend. But after looking at the 12-mile loop day trip by another group, I decided to do it in a day also. That would give us another day to visit someplace else or take an off day.

Alpine Lakes Wilderness
Alpine Lakes Wilderness

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Road 6830 to Terrace Mountain

There are several ways to these peaks above Fisher Lake Basin. Tonga Ridge Trail’s west end offers the shortest drive from the highway to the trailhead. While the east end cuts the trail by 1.5 miles, it’s ten extra miles of driving.

Past the Road 6830-310 turn-off instantly saw more potholes. As the road improved, it narrowed, and the median became brushy in the last two miles. Then it ended before the washed-out bridge over Fisher Creek.

The promise of a new day
The promise of a new day

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Tonga Ridge Trail

We enjoyed a quiet walk below the ridge’s high point to the Fisher Creek Trail. Jumar Mountain first came into view as we walked past several streams. The trail soon became brush-free before entering the wilderness.

At mile 1.5 in the meadow, we found the spur footpath to Fisher Lake Trail by the second campsite. But the main trail was another .25 mile at the next fork. The two paths would later join at 200′ above the lake.

This way to Terrace Mountain
This way to Terrace Mountain

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Fisher Creek Trail to Terrace Mountain

The hard-to-follow path took us shy of the ridgetop, where I saw a footpath. So we followed it, figuring it’d take us to the lake. But we soon lost the path, scrambled part way, and found it again before joining the main trail.

We only started seeing mosquitoes on this trail. But they soon multiplied as we slowly dipped toward the water. Then we saw Jumar Mountain again through the trees as we walked along the northeast shore.

Jumar Mountain above Fisher Lake
Jumar Mountain above Fisher Lake

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Jumar Mountain Climb

We went through half a dozen empty camps to the outlet filled with suds and an awful smell. From there, the path continued to Ptarmigan Lakes. But we turned right and went up the northeast ridge as the trail started to dip.

Brian‘s track let us avoid going down to the lakes and regaining altitude later. We rounded the steep east hill below the summit. Then we went north through the talus and finished the last bit over mild terrain.

Terrace Mountain looming in the east
Terrace Mountain looming in the east

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Jumar Mountain Summit Views

The cairn on the west end suggested the broad summit’s high point. The trees on top were sparse to let in the dramatic south landscape. But we went farther west atop the northeast ridge for a more open view.

It’d been hot since we left Fisher Lake, now at the northern foothills. The dogs kept to the shade whenever they found shrubs. We enjoyed views of Bald Eagle Peak, the lakes, and Shroud Mountain across the basin.

Northern panoramic view from Jumar Mountain
Northern panoramic view from Jumar Mountain

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En Route to Shroud Mountain

We walked south to the saddle with a clear view of Terrace Mountain. But the main features were still Mount Daniel and Mount Hinman looming in the south. Soon, we took a break on a snow patch before going around the east.

I noticed the grassy slope as we continued south through the talus. At one point, I realized I had lost the mosquito net from the helmet. Before long, we went up the steep hillside and topped out on the southeast saddle at 5800′.

Ptarmigan Lakes from the ridge gap
Ptarmigan Lakes from the ridge gap

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Shroud Mountain Summit Views

We reached the top after going through 400′ of the talus. The yellow pup had had enough of the big rocks and stuck to the grassy area. But the black lab experienced separation anxiety and followed me through the boulders.

Views were similar to Jumar Mountain. But we now could see Terrace Mountain clearly as Mount Daniel and Mount Hinman continued to steal the show. Meanwhile, places along Necklace Valley were hard to discern.

Southeastern panoramic view from Shroud Mountain
Southeastern panoramic view from Shroud Mountain

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Final Stop, Terrace Mountain

I first saw Terrace Mountain as we came off Dip Top Gap. I don’t remember it looking as impressive from Marmot Lake as it did from the gap. Without the terraces, the peak could easily blend in with other high points.

The two-mile over the east ridge was the driest and hottest part. We bypassed Point 5961 from the south and went over the next bump. Then we dropped to the top of Ptarmigan Lakes Basin and traversed below the rocky crest.

Looking back at the first two mountains
Looking back at the first two mountains

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The Final Strech on Terrace Mountain

The report in hand wasn’t clear about where to gain the south ridge. But past the massive talus, I saw a southeast-facing grass slope leading to a rocky notch. It wasn’t the one the party had used, but it worked for us.

We traversed below the rocky ridge on the east with Marmor Lake at the bottom. But as the terrain steepened, we returned to the crest and weaved through krummholz. Then we finished above the “terrace” over ledges.

The final stretch on Terrace Mountain
The final stretch on Terrace Mountain

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Summit Views on Terrace Mountain

Even though the mosquitoes persisted, the temperature had cooled since we left the basin. The landscape also looked more pleasing without the harsh midday lighting. South views now included the distant Mount Stuart.

High points east of Deception Creek were hard to identify. Besides Mac Peak, none looked as impressive as they did from the east. Mount Fernow by Beckler Peak also stood out from the other peaks in that direction.

Southern panoramic view from Terrace Mountain
Southern panoramic view from Terrace Mountain

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Leaving Fisher Creek Basin

We would follow Brett‘s descriptions and exit from the north. But the agonizing descent had added even more time to the trip! We desperately needed water and dropped to the ponds two tiers below the top.

From the streams, we aimed north and soon reached Point 5789 with Lake Clarice at the bottom. Then an animal trail took us through two more ridge knobs. Soon, we went east to Point 5382 via the wooded crest.

Reflections on the terrace
Reflections on the terrace

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Exiting the North Ridge

From Point 5382 onward, it was open as we walked through light shrubs over the meadows. But things began to look dire the minute we went down the ridge. A sea of slide alder had awaited our arrival and soon swallowed us whole for the next 400′.

It wasn’t until the dense brush faded that we could see our hands and feet again. But next came the steep area dispersed with duff, where I stepped down on the back of the small trees. Meanwhile, I kept looking at the GPS to stay on the crest.

Lake Clarice with Deception Pass
Lake Clarice with Deception Pass

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Back to Tonga Ridge East Trailhead

After the incline lessened came the lowland brambles. Then at 3800′, we followed the GPS straight west to reach the old road at 200′ below. The massive devils club en route sure was the icing on the cake.

We walked the old roadway as the slide alder leaned overhead from both sides. Then we went over the washed-out bridge with the middle dipped to Fisher Creek. Soon, we walked the .25 mile from the road’s end back to the car.

Finding our way home
Finding our way home

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