Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

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VanMarmot
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Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

Post by VanMarmot » July 26th, 2014, 6:46 am

July and August are generally considered NOT the months to visit Indian Heaven, unless you really like getting swarmed by hoards of blood-sucking flying fiends. I'd put the SW ridge of Lemei Rock on my to do list but recent business travel has cut so deeply into my hiking opportunities that if I was going to Indian Heaven it was now or not for a long while. So Friday morning found me at the Placid Lake TH with a head net, extra DEET, long pants, and a thick shirt - prepared for the worst. I got to Placid Lake but there were no mosquitos!

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There was plenty of moisture around owing to recent rains and water droplets were everywhere - including those detailing a spider web.

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On to Chenamus Lake on trail 29A - through a herd of elk :o - but still no bugs!

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Past Chenamus Lake, Trail 29A becomes a fairly easy to follow historic trail that goes all the way to the PCT at Junction Lake. Along the way it passes

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and then crosses upper Rush Creek,

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before breaking out into some large meadows,

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with a view of East Crater. Here, 29A (yellow arrow) crosses the old CCT (black arrow), which can be easily followed from Bear Lake to Rock Lake.

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There were campers and mosquitos at Junction Lake but only a few of each.

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From Junction Lake, I took Trail 179 toward Lemei Lake but about 0.25 mi short of the lake turned E toward my goal, Lemei's SW ridge.

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Cross country travel in this area is easy and I was soon passing a cluster of small lakes and ponds at the toe of the ridge.

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It was at this point that the long feared swarms of mosquitos finally jumped me - I had to put the head net on just to keep from sucking them in every time I breathed! The lower part of the ridge has trees and low brush and isn't particularly steep.

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Higher up, just short of the headwall, the ridge opens into gravel covered slopes.

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Suddenly I saw something white (arrow) move on the headwall,

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and it took me a second to realize it was a mountain goat - first time I've seen one in Indian Heaven!

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While I had suspected that getting past the headwall was going to be the crux of this hike, I had no preconceived notions of how to do that. Just because a goat got up there didn't mean I could too. I angled up and E from the center of the ridge until I saw a tree with what looked to be a climbable chimney behind it - if you're going to fall off better into a tree than open space - so I went there. Sure enough, there was a short (50'), easy 3rd class passage that got me to an easy shallow gully above. :D

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From there, it was a stroll to the summit. Not bad considering I had to do the whole thing wearing a head net and battling swarms of blood suckers!

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From the summit, there were great views of Red Mtn (R), Berry Mtn (B), and Gifford Pk (G) to the SW,

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Bird Mtn (B), Point 5688 (P), Sawtooh Mtn (S), and Rainier to the N,

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Hood and Jefferson to the S,

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a cloudy, melted St. Helens,

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and, of course, Adams.

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After lunch - eaten under my head net - I headed down via the NW ridge route, passing the famous keyhole, with its view of trail 24, along the way.

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Curiously, as soon as I started down the ridge, the mosquitos disappeared and didn't bother me again all the way back to the TH. The NW ridge deposited me on Trail 24, which I took to Trail 33, and that past Clear Lk

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to the PCT, then N to Trail 29 and back to the TH, passing a little unnamed lake along the way.

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Not a long or steep hike (12 mi RT, 1700' EG) but the SW ridge was a fun scramble and I did get to see a goat, and the mosquitos were only really bothersome on the SW ridge, so overall it was a very good day in the woods! :D

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Last edited by VanMarmot on August 18th, 2014, 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Splintercat
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Re: Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

Post by Splintercat » July 28th, 2014, 6:48 am

Nice report and photos, Van - love those lake reflections! Looks like it was perfectly still for you -- which usually is hellish with mosquitos, but sounds like you (mostly) dodged them. My sympathies to the folks you spotted camping... hopefully, not their first overnight hiking experience..! :lol:

I think you're going to need to take up formal residence in the Gifford Pinchot, Van -- it's your home away from home!

Tom :)

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-Q-
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Re: Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

Post by -Q- » July 28th, 2014, 12:58 pm

Fantastic!!
I have a very similar adventure planned for later this year.
Lemie Rock via Placid Lake/Chenamus Lake.
Lemie Rock is awesome :mrgreen:

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VanMarmot
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Re: Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

Post by VanMarmot » July 29th, 2014, 5:16 am

Splintercat wrote:Nice report and photos, Van - love those lake reflections! Looks like it was perfectly still for you -- which usually is hellish with mosquitos, but sounds like you (mostly) dodged them. My sympathies to the folks you spotted camping... hopefully, not their first overnight hiking experience..! :lol:

I think you're going to need to take up formal residence in the Gifford Pinchot, Van -- it's your home away from home!

Tom :)
Thanks! Spent many years focused on the Gorge and then decided I needed something new - which took me to the GPNF. It's a tough call but I think Indian Heaven - mosquitos aside - is my favorite hiking place in the forest.

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

Post by acorn woodpecker » July 30th, 2014, 2:56 pm

Glad you survived Mosquito Heaven in July and lived to tell the tale. I look forward to climbing Lemei Rock from the SW someday. I've only went up NW ridge from Cultus Campground TH. It was October and the fiery huckleberry displays along with the fresh snow and larch trees turning was a spectacular display.

Nat and I had Lemei on our radar to do recently (along with Bird and Sawtooth) but opted out due to the bugs. I think we'll wait a month or two.

Thanks for the report and photos. Great, as usual!

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VanMarmot
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Re: Lemei Rock via SW Ridge (Indian Heaven) 25-Jul-2014

Post by VanMarmot » August 3rd, 2014, 6:37 am

acorn woodpecker wrote:Glad you survived Mosquito Heaven in July and lived to tell the tale. I look forward to climbing Lemei Rock from the SW someday. I've only went up NW ridge from Cultus Campground TH. It was October and the fiery huckleberry displays along with the fresh snow and larch trees turning was a spectacular display.

Nat and I had Lemei on our radar to do recently (along with Bird and Sawtooth) but opted out due to the bugs. I think we'll wait a month or two.

Thanks for the report and photos. Great, as usual!
Thanks! Yes, it's likely to be a whole lot more pleasant - bug wise - in September. With Nat along you might be able to climb the SW ridge a little more directly (more to cliff left where the goat was) than I did. The rock is pretty solid (certainly better than that stuff you've been climbing in the Gorge!) but there are loose rocks on most of the ledges...

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