P to the 3

moosefish photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter Zephyr:

Putrid Pete’s Peak

I was asked to do this by GoJo and ewb when we returned from the hike that night. But I was given an extended deadline since I am pretty busy in school these days.

As was explained in pre-trip news, the Forest Service Road 9031 is closed during the week through April due to a logging operation.  So in order to access the Ira Spring Trail we had to park just off I-90 at Exit 42, north side.  I arrived around 4:30 pm and was hiking by 4:50 pm. There is an old road there that is blocked.  Also a designated shooting area is just beyond the parking spot which has its own features.  I followed the directions from previous reports and walked past the road gate bearing west and looking for boot paths through the braided streams coming down from Mason Creek.  I crossed the big log over the creek and began going straight up towards the FS 9031 above me.  I also noticed quite a bit of orange flagging leading me on up the slope.  Being alone it was very encouraging to have the flags to help find the way.  Eventually I reached the road around 5:20 pm.

From here it was nice stroll to the trailhead and great rest from the steep climb up.  Soon I reached the turn in the main trail and knew from the directions to keep going west along a boot path.  Here the directions were a little off since it told me the first switchback was to continue west for about a mile.  I don’t have GPS, but it seemed more like a third or three quarters of a mile.  Here there was a dilemma since the trail forked and both forks were flagged.  Both were strong boot paths and according to the printed directions, I felt that I could justify going in either direction.  I wanted to go up, so chose the switchback up.  Luckily the trail switch backed again to the west and the distances correlated with the print outs of the Google Maps that was given.  Then I proceeded to climb up and up switch backing through the trees steeply.  Note, this can be a tricky route finding experience.  You need to pay close attention to the trail and the map.  Currently there are some orange  flags along the way.  It’s easy to continue off onto a smaller tributary trail.

The printed directions mentioned crossing below a large talus field.  I stayed to the right as described and continued on.  It’s been a couple of weeks since the hike, but I seem to recall a second talus slope.  Here I stopped for water and clothing adjustment.  I was getting pretty hot with the constant up climb.  At this point I heard a trekking pole clang against a rock in the far distance.  I  knew that other Pre-NAB’ers or TNAB’ers were going to be hot on my trail so I pushed on.  Soon, I was coming out of the tree line and onto scrubby slopes with bear grass, rocks and the occasional tree snag.  One problem I noticed right away was that the footing was terrible.  The soil was not stable, the rocks were loosely attached and crumbly, and the bear grass was slippery.  All this on a very steep slope.  Soon I was in snow and that made matters even worse.  I did not have any traction devices other than my trekking poles and boot lug soles.  As the snow deepened with the altitude, I began to reconsider my options.  Should I continue or press on to the summit.  This was one of those one step up, two steps slide back sort of situations.  I did not want to set any rocks loose, it was so easy to do and took a lot of concentration.  Suddenly a big dog was right beside me.  It looked like Mazzi, the short-haired German pointer /Weimaraner I believe.  There were two of these all of a sudden in the snow around me.  Below was Seattlehikertoo and doubledoggurunga and his Weims.  They were closing in fast.

By this time the sun was setting furiously and the wind was howling.  It got so cold my eyes watered and I was wishing I had brought goggles.  We debated the merits of going further in the conditions, but it’s hard to stop the movement up after you once start up the trail for this gang.  Everyone just climbed as carefully as possible in the loose, crumbly rock.  Soon Zeusdaddy was at hand and Moosefish right after. Jeff and four-legged Mazzy appeared.  Everyone focused on the summit ahead on the ridge.

The views had started to open up and we could see easily across the I-90 corridor to McClellan Butte, and further south Mt Rainier floated serenely above the clouds.  The sun was setting just behind Defiance Ridge in the direction of Mailbox Peak.  To the east was Mt Defiance and Bandera Mountain.

The summit was now in sight and under full assault from the charging TNAB’ers.  I hurried along and joined the group as everyone dug into their packs for jackets, hats, gloves and other articles.  The temperature was dropping rapidly.  The summit was rather cramped and dropped straight down on the north side.  You could look down into Spider Lake and Thompson Lake, both frozen as I recall.  Someone dug out the register and we took turns signing the roster.  By this time Wxman and GQHiker were hanging with us.  Moosefish had us move down to a flatter spot below the summit for a group photo. He set up a gorilla pod and captured a really nice photo.  Shortly thereafter a few more folks began to appear on the summit or just below.  Omega and Chris did a quick summit tag and we all started heading down as the sky darkened.  We soon ran into GoJo and ewb just a few hundred yards down slope.  (Earlier start next time guys….)  😉

Then the fun began.  This steep rocky, brushy slope was very tricky in the dark.  We waited at intervals to make sure we were all together in the dark.  Once the folks in the lead took a wrong turn at a switchback and had to climb back up a bit to rejoin us.  But for the most part we came down without incident. Once we arrived at the Ira Spring trailhead and parking area, we had to walk a ways down the road and find the place to follow the creek back to the parking area on I-90.  There were some flags in the trees to help.  Take note, this part of the trek is a little sketchy.  The drop off is steep and there is a lot of litter and debris from the road piled up under the trees.  Seattlehikertoo stepped on a piece of plywood that became a slippery trap and threw his knee into a boulder.  Ouch!  Use caution here.  Going down the stream bed through the trees, flotsam and jetsam was interesting.  We kept looking for the boot paths and occasional flags to point the way.  Eventually we arrived at the parking area en masse about 11 pm.

Many folks were tired, and only a few opted to go to the Pour House.   As tired as I was, I decided to join the crew and I am glad I did.  Something about getting hot food and the opportunity to discuss the events really helped rest me up for the long drive home.  It was a small group, Zeusdaddy, GoJo, ewb, Wxman, Omega, Chris and myself.  GoJo talked some folks out of a large table in the back and we proceeded to enjoy the rest of the night.  Our server Kim was amazing in her timely service and quick attention to our needs.  It took a full day to recover and my quads were  sore until Monday, but I had a terrific time.  See you on the trail.  ~~zephyr~~

Putrid Pete’s Peak Information:


Special Notice: This week’s hike will include substantial bushwhacking and climbing on talus field boulders. With the Ira Spring TH inaccessible due to logging on the access roads, we’ll need to do an extra bushwhack up from Exit 42 Tinkham. The last 1000′ elevation up the open ridge line will be an area with loose surface rock that can tumble down so everyone needs to be cautious. We will aim for a 530pm meet at the Exit with leaving time at 545pm sharp due to the extra 600′ elevation bushwhack up to the road.

Generalized description of intended route: get to the Mason Lake TH, follow it for couple hundred yards until it makes the big bend back to the right. Go straight through the corner on a boot path.  Continue heading west for awhile, maybe 1 mile?  Get near stream flow and the boot path turns back up to the right/east away from it.  Come to a large talus field – go across/below it to the right of it, not up to the left of it.  You want to get east of it, then the trail kind of disappears as you need to go STRAIGHT UP the ridge line to the summit.

Distance & Elevation: 6 miles round trip approx 3,100 ft gain

NOAA Weather Forecast for Putrid Pete’s Peak: click here

Google Driving Directions:

With the Ira Spring TH inaccessible due to logging on the access roads, we’ll need to do an extra bushwhack up from Exit 42 Tinkham.

2009 Putrid Pete’s Peak TR
2008 Putrid Pete’s Peak TR

7 Responses to “P to the 3”

  1. MntsUn says on :

    Will there be a preNAB tonight? A target arrival time?
    I have returned to working at Eastgate and would be willing to drive a carpool for preNAB.

  2. Steve H says on :

    please send details on today’s hike. Dogs and I are ready to go!

  3. Unnu says on :

    Haven’t been up tonight’s route before – for those who have, is a helmet and/or ice axe advisable/useful?

  4. Jo says on :

    @Steve An email has been sent your way.

    @Unnu Ice Axes weren’t needed by the group who went last weekend, they had them out but conditions weren’t icy just loose rock & slippery bear grass. Helmets are never a bad idea with a larger group traveling on steep, loose rock.

    @MntsUn I’m thinking of preNAbing too and I’ve seen a few other emails mentioning starting from the exit around 5:10ish.

  5. Erik says on :

    pictures are up on flickr.

  6. Jo says on :

    @Seattlehikertoo Your set of pictures is fantastic! Thanks for posting.

  7. ewb says on :

    Ditto on Seattlehikertoo’s pics – good stuff! Here are few more to ponder: