Johnson Mountain

     This scramble was a Mountaineer trip led by Karen Sykes. I have always enjoyed Karen's trips and this one was no exception. We had only eight people and a smaller group was nice. The temperature was forecast to reach 79 in Cle Elum and it was already warm by the time we reached the Jungle Creek trailhead. It was a leisurely 10:30 when we started out. The lower trail was in nice shape with lots of Trillium and Glacier Lilies. There are several creek crossings but all of them are easy. The trailhead is at about 2900' and the ridge top intersection with the Johnson Creek trail is at about 2 miles and 4500'. The first mile is very gentle. At two places I saw my first Calypso Orchids of the year. It was the warmest hike I have done since last Summer. The first 70+ degree day of the year is always a little tough. Still, warm days are good. The route was snow free all the way to the intersection. There was a little snow on the upper section of the Johnson Creek trail. We stopped here to wait for the rest of the group and to have a bite to eat.

     At the ridge top the trail goes from the south side to the north side of the ridge. As we continued along with many ups and downs snow began to appear. Thankfully this day was about 35 degrees warmer than the Earl Peak trip I did in the same area last weekend. The snow was soft enough to kick good footprints. Much of the mile to the Sheep Driveway trail was traversing the hillside on snow. There were no other footprints but many animal prints along the way. When we reached the Sheep Driveway Johnson Mountain was about 450' above us. The Driveway trail heads along a ridge to our right. Malcolm Mountain, Medra Pass, and Koppen Mountain are along this ridge top trail. We waited to get our group back together. Johnson Mountain is up the ridge to our left. The first part is the steepest. We were able to stay just to the right of snow and ascend the ridge on dirt. As the slope relented it turns into a nice ridge walk. We stayed on the ridge top and passed over one false summit. Not too much farther on we ran out of mountain and reached the top. When I did this trip last Summer I reached the summit and saw a deer just below me. Today as I reached the summit there was a deer just below me. Quite a strange coincidence.

     Clouds were coming in and the temperature had dropped enough to be very comfortable. Add a gentle breeze and I was quite happy. Five of us reached the summit first and soon after two more came on up including Karen. We were able to spent about an hour on top. The views were outstanding. Most of the Teanaway peaks and Stuart Range peaks were visible. I could see Iron Bear, Miller, Three Brothers, Little, Navaho, Earl, Iron, Ingalls, Fortune, Esmerelda, Hawkins, and Jolley. The view from 5220' Johnson was not as good as from 7036' Earl last week but it was outstanding in its own right. This is not a particularly high summit but there is enough of a drop on two sides to make it seem very alpine. We finally started down and it did not take long to get back down to the trail. We decided to loop out on the Way Creek trail instead of retracing our steps. The first part was more traversing on snow but as we rounded the west side of Johnson and moved on to the south side the snow disappeared. There were several interesting flowers on this side of the mountain. As usual I did not know the names of most of them.

     When we finally came back down to the Jungle Creek road we ran into a large group of Boy Scouts out backpacking. They were the only hikers we saw all day. The last 1 3/4 miles was on the road. It was not the most scenic part but it was not too bad. At about 4:50 we closed the loop and returned to our cars. The totals were about 7 1/2 miles and 2500' gained. It turned out to be a nice trail with a little snow, good company, a nice summit, and very good weather. My fourth trip into the Teanaway this year was another great day in the mountains.

Calypso Orchid
Susan & Maria
Mt. Stuart
Summit Ridge
Heading Higher
False Summit
Ridge Walk
Mt. Stuiart
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Photo Page 2