Saturday, August 4, 2018
With better weather in today’s forecast we decided to hike the Johnson Ridge Trail out to Scorpion Mountain. The trailhead is at the end of a gravel road:
The hike starts out on old road in a recovering clearcut that – based on historical Google Earth imagery – dates back to the late 1980s. It is surprisingly steep and this stretch is a slog:
At 1.3 miles we crossed the wilderness boundary. Frankly, I had never heard of the Wild Sky Wilderness before this trip:
As we climbed up towards Sunrise Mountain, we got a glimpse through the trees over to nearby Evergreen Mountain. The white speck is the lookout:
We also got a nice view of the some of the surrounding mountains:
The trail passes right over the top of Sunrise Mountain, which is nothing more than a patch of bare ground surrounded by trees:
If you move around Sunrise Mountain a bit you can get some views. Here is Glacier Peak to the north:
I believe this peak to the south is Mt. Fernow.
After a VERY steep descent from Sunrise Mountain (apparently the trail-builders didn’t believe in switchbacks) we continued along the ridge, passing through meadows and forest:
Some heather was blooming:
Scorpion Mountain, our destination:
The last stretch of trail traverses a meadow. Wow!
The trail reaches an unsigned junction. One way descends to Joan Lake but we turned left and headed up to Scorpion:
After four miles and 2,000′ elevation gain we made it!
The mosquitoes were amazingly abundant here. We put on long sleeves, bug spray, and headnets to protect ourselves. There are not 360-degree views from the summit due to the trees, but if you move around you can get views in most (not all) directions. We sat down at a spot with a view to the west and north, surrounded by lupine, heather, and valerian wildflowers:
Glacier Peak again:
I wandered around getting pictures of other views. Looking southwest:
Joan Lake, far below. We did not make the side trip to visit that lake because we didn’t want to regain the elevation we’d lose hiking down there, plus we knew the mosquitoes would be even worse down there:
After an hour on the summit soaking up the awesome views, we’d had enough of the bugs and we started heading back. Trekking back across the meadow:
The last bit descending steeply back to the trailhead on the old road through the clearcut was a punishing descent and we were glad to get back to the car. We enjoyed a relaxing evening at our Beckler River campsite:
Beautiful hike! Even with some clouds, we still had very nice views. The Washington Cascades are way more rugged and spectacular than the Oregon Cascades. What a treat!