Only a Stonesthrow Away
"Stonesthrow Peak" is a remote peak in the Southeast Olympic Range. This gentle peak offers isolation in the midst of a sea of grander peaks. Its location, on a ridgeline connecting Mt Stone (which is less than half a mile to the east) and Mt Hopper, makes it a very scenic traverse in alpine conditions, with incredible views of the Eastern Olympic Range. It nearly is a "stones throw" away from Mt Stone on the initial approach. Overlooking the headwaters of the North Fork of the Skokomish River (which runs to the south) and the serene Hagen Lake to the northeast, Stonesthrow occupies a rarely visited area of the range. Mountainiers bound for Hagen Lake are the only ones to pass its eastern slopes. Crazy Creek runs along the northern face and is fed by late lingering snowfields on Stonethrow's northern side.
Its southern grasscovered slopes give way to a narrow forested ridge leading on scree slopes to the summit. A short bushwack along this ridge yields incredible views down the valley to the east into Hagen Lake. The southern slopes are home to the Olympic Marmot. Be wary of their system of holes along the grassy slopes. A variety of Wildflowers common to the Olympics such as Avalanche Lily, Bear Grass, Phlox and Lupine make their homes in this lovely paradise. A few dazzling streams cascade down the southern face and into the Skokomish River below.
Views from the summit of Stonesthrow are enthralling, even in cloudy weather. The Skokomish massif shows off all its glory to the south, with the tiny satelite of Mt Henderson clinging to it's western buttress. To the west lesser known peaks such as O'neil Peak and Bumbershoot Peak rear themselves above the North Fork of the Skokomish River valley. Even the distant Burke Range is visible, with June 10th and Chimney Peak proudly on display. Mt's Steel and Duckabush parade to the north, where Mt Hopper, White Mountain and Mt Anderson join the view. Mt Elk Lick itself seems like only a stonesthrow away across the Duckabush River valley. The giants of the range, Mt Deception, Mt Mystery and the Constance Massif rise into the sky as a backdrop to the deep blue-green Hagen Lake to the north and east of Stonesthrow.
The approach to Stonesthrow is for the true mountainier. Two days is recommended for one's enjoyment of the peak and area, but it can be done in a very long day also.
While the peak itself is not a challenge, the steep Putvin trail and several snowfield descents must be made to reach the base of the peak. Located at the headwaters of the North Fork Skokomish River, Stonesthrow is across from two major avalanche hazards; Mt Skokomish and Mt Stone. Skokomish is especially notorious for these mid-summer slides, so be wary when descending it's eastern slopes into the headwaters of the North Fork.
Head up the steep and nasty Putvin Trail the 3.8 miles to Lake of the Angels (Which I believe has been washed out before the trailhead since the summer of 2008). Several areas of the trail will require scrambling ability. After reaching Lake of the Angels head for the ridge on the north end of the lake, a saddle between Mt Stone and Mt Skokomish. Descend the near cliffs onto a massive snowfield (Ice-ax strongly recommended!) and contour north around Mt Stone's west face. Cross the North Fork headwaters here and head across the boulder field. It is fairly dangerous at this point, as Mt Stone often releases massive boulders onto the boulder strewn slopes below, so be wary.
Once across the boulders ascend the grassy slope toward an obvious notch in the ridge to the north (Known as "The Great Stone Arrow". Once the ridgeline is gained proceed NE along the tree-lined ridge. Awesome views of Mt Constance and Hagen Lake can be had from here, as well as of Mt Stone directly to the east. The final ascent to the summit requires a short scramble along the somewhat exposed eastern rim of Stonesthrow and up to the summit. From the summit, a traverse can be done towards Mt Hopper to the west, following the ridgeline. Be prepared with an ice-axe here, as snowfields fall away into the northern valleys below. Spectacular scenery the whole way makes it worth the effort for extra exploration.
Red TapeStonesthrow Peak is located in Olympic National Park. Fill out permits for overnight camping at the Putvin Trailhead. A fee of $2.00 per night per person is all it costs.
What better place in the whole range to camp is there than Lake of the Angels? This lake provides a beautiful jumping off spot to many peaks in the area, as well as a home to a thriving herd of Olympic Mountain Goats which frequent it's shores and the ridges above it. Tread softly, as the shores are fragile and home to rare and unique flowers and plant life.