Mason County Highpoint Trip Report
useful approach and route information
Date: June 26, 2010
Author: Adam Helman
note: Coordinates use the WGS84 datum.
This effort was part of a larger journey
collecting summits in late June and early July 2010.
Spring snow conditions forced a retreat at 4,350 feet -
before reaching Lake of the Angels (4,900 feet). This note is largely
to provide useful distances and coordinates for future efforts.
The blocked, bermed road noted in Edward Earl's recent report
is no longer an obstacle to futher mechanical progress. Evidently the road was bermed
owing to a rock avalanche (see photograph). A high clearance vehicle may now
drive through this now cleared road, and find smooth conditions a mere few dozen feet later.
The Putvin trailhead is located on the road's north side with a historic marker
(see photograph) ten feet east of the trailhead marker. There is ample parking space
on the road's south side at (47.58345° N, 123.23392°W), elevation 1,565 feet.
These coordinates will locate the trailhead - one that is 0.1 mile west
of the obvious bridge; 1.2 miles west of the former berm; and 11.9 miles from
The sky was completely overcast with a cloud deck perhaps 1,000 feet above the valley floor.
This condition persisted all evening and into the following morning.
Figuring that the cloud layer is of finite thickness, I started out with the hope that
I would break-out into sunny conditions, above the clouds, before having to go cross-country.
Here, I refuse to starting climbing in a whiteout without a trail, alone.
The trailhead sign indicates the following distances -
After gaining maybe 500 feet I encounter an impressive cascade owing to snowmelt.
It is a beautiful and almost fearsome spectacle - the water inclined at perhaps
35 degrees rushing along with tremendous force. The trail soon heads west,
passing right by enormous boulders that are completely covered in
bright green moss (impressive!);
and then crosses three ravines of which two had flowing water. These must be the
three "bouldery gullies" of Edward's report.
The trail meets an old logging road at (47.58544° N, 123.24802°W), elevation 2,357 feet.
The road is taken west 0.2 mile, whence the road continues west while one takes
a trail steeply northeast, signed with "Angel Lake 2.0 miles".
Note how this distance does not quite match that value calculated based on the trailhead sign.
Somewhere along the next portion, and prior to reaching the 3,600 foot basin,
the trail meets a lengthy fallen log with a ten-foot section exposed and parallel to
the trail along the latter's left edge. Here the trail becomes quite faint,
and I spent a few minutes trying to locate its continuation. Go 45° right, uphill,
rather than straight. I've placed several branches to suggest the correct path.
(I could not obtain coordinates owing to forest cover. This would have been helpful.)
Edward notes two Class 3 sections of the trail where tree roots are of assistance.
These sections are at 4,200 feet, and are there to surmount a cliffy area.
Just below them we have (47.59415° N, 123.25996°W), elevation 4,100 feet.
The first (lower) section is Class 2 if one goes to the right.
I turned around at 4,353 feet with coordinates (47.59506° N, 123.25906°W)
owing to sudden (and alarming) nearly full snow coverage that prevented me from
seeing the trail. I had no idea how to reach Lake of the Angels without the trail,
and found the prospect of postholing through dozens of "snow prominences", each centered
on a tree, as quite unsavory.
I had just broken-out into a gorgeous sunny day, at around 4,000 feet -
so at the day's high point I enjoyed views of nearby peaks floating on a sea of clouds
as I enjoyed my "summit" pastrami bagel.
This trail is steep, and I'd hate to go uphill on a hot afternoon some future August.
- 1.3 miles to an old logging road
- 1.5 miles to the wilderness boundary
- 3.7 miles to Lake of the Angels.