Stillaguamish Peak

The Perry Creek Road is due to be closed in the spring when the larger Mt. Dickerman trailhead is finished. That will add 1 to 1 1/2 miles each way to the Perry Creek Trail. I wanted to get in one more trip up before the change. Stillaguamish Peak is 10 miles with 3800' of gain from the old trailhead. I had made one prior trip up Stillaguamish in 2004 and had a great time. There was recent snow in the mountains and then a big rainstorm so we did not know how much snow would be left. After all that rain I figured not too much. I joined Barry, Suzanne, Carla, Bob, and Kolleen for the trip. We met at the trailhead at 9:05 am. It turned out to be a gathering as Joanna, Mark, GeoTom, Dani, their friend, and Steve Fox all showed up. Fortunately some were going to Mt. Forgotten or we would have had quite a crowd on Stillaguamish.

It was chilly at the start but we quickly warmed up. After a short bit of forest the route is out in the open as it heads up the right side of the Perry Creek Valley. The trail is very rocky but this day there were millions of leaves covering the trail. It looked better than I have ever seen it. We made good time and soon were two miles up the valley at Perry Creek Falls. The floods of the previous week are over but the creek was still a bit higher than I have seen it. The creek crossing was wide but not deep and we all rock hopped across just fine.

Before beginning the climb up to the ridge I pulled off one layer and went to short sleeves. Amazing to be that warm on a sunny day in mid November. A little more than a mile later we came to the unofficial split with the way trail to Stillaguamish Peak. It is easy to see at the start but becomes sketchy very rapidly. No matter. Just keep heading uphill and the trail is soon found. The trail is in good shape with just a few logs down across it. They were all easy enough to scramble over.

The tread is good but narrow in spots as it traverses below the ridge. After a section in forest it comes out into the open on a grassy slope. There was now snow on the ground. Just enough to cover the trail but not at all consolidated. Many steps just slid off the trail. I was not really very comfortable along here. More or less snow would have been better. Barry went out ahead and flew right across the slope. I and others were a bit slower. After what seemed a long time the route turned and climbed straight to a flat spot on the ridge top. Here we had our first really great views. We had seen Dickerman, Sperry, and Vesper from the open slopes below but now could see over to Forgotten, Pugh, Sloan, and Glacier Peak among others. Clear sky and fresh white snow on all the peaks was spectacular.

After a brief break it was time to head on around to Stillaguamish. The peak soon came into view. All the slabs and heather were covered by snow. It was beautiful in a much different way than on my previous mid summer visit. There is one place where the route switchbacks down a very steep slope. This day the slope was all snow covered. It was a bit of a challenge to get down without having all the snow just slide beneath by feet. From the bottom it was a curving ascend on wide open slopes. I was not feeling all that great at this point. As we reached the big notch in the ridge I chose to stop there.

It was only a few tenths of a mile short of the summit block. It was also past 12:30. I did not want to slow the group down as we had only four more hours of daylight. Also I figured with the snow there was less than a 50 - 50 chance I would choose to cross the narrow ledge that leads to the summit. I chose instead to hang around on the ridge top near the notch and take advantage of the amazing photo opportunities. With in ten minutes the rest of the group was over at the final ridge and out of sight.

I took my time heading back. South Lake was down below the other side of the ridge. Mt. Baker was now in view too. I could see White Chuck Mountain and many peaks of the North Cascades. To have such a clear day this time of year is very rare. I climbed back up the steep slope and had my lunch while waiting for the others to return. Bob and Kolleen were first back and reported that the others came to the conclusion that it was just to dangerous to climb the last bit to the summit. They did get nearly all the views just not the actual top. Soon we could see the others heading back.

Once we were all together it was time to descend the slick open slope section. It was not all that bad though I was even slower going down as it was plenty slick. We met GeoTom and friend here as they failed on Forgotten and were going part way up Stillaguamish too. Back in the trees the going was much easier. I was last and ran into Franklin and Suzanne. I met Franklin at Wing Lake a month ago. He knew Carla and is knows Rick who is a friend of our Suzanne. It's a small world.

We left the climbers trail and dropped down to pick up the Perry Creek Trail once again. Another mile plus of knee pounding and we were back at the creek. The crossing was no worse than in the morning. The last two miles seemed to go on forever. One nice feature of this trail in spring and fall are the numerous seasonal waterfalls that cascade down from far above. Some them must be 500' tall or more.

With just a little daylight remaining we trudged off the trail and back to our cars. On my previous ascent of Stillaguamish I was pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the upper meadows. This day it was all different yet very beautiful in a different way. The fresh snow put a white blanket over the meadows and the surrounding snow capped peaks were even more imposing. We may not have reached the summit but this was far from a disappointing day. Any sunny warm November day in the high country is a rare occurrence and one to be remembered.

A report is also at nwhikers: Stillaguamish Peak Report

Big Four Mountain
Fallen Leaves
Crossing Perry Creek
On Stillaguamish Trail
Narrow & Slick Tread
Break With A View
Beautiful Glacier Peak
Pugh & Forgotten
Mt. Pugh
View South
Sperry & Vesper
Bob & Kolleen
Nearing Stillaguamish
South Lake
White Chuck Mountain
West Side Of Ridge
Sloan Peak
Del Campo Peak
Summit Ridge
Whitehorse Mountain
Three Fingers
Sloan & Twin Peaks
Fall Meets Winter
Mt. Baker
Bench Near South Lake
One More Climb
Forgotten & Glacier
Mt. Forgotten
Last Look At Glacier
Click on thumbnails to get larger pictures.

Trips - 2008