Lookout Mountain and Mount Clifty 9-22-2013
The first time I made an attempt on Lookout Mountain and Mount Clifty the weather was similar to today's, and I turned back after only a few miles when my "waterproof" gear failed me. With a fresh nikwax treatment I was feeling much more confident as Colin and I left the gate below Hicks Butte under gray skies. At the junction for Trail 1334, we left road 4510 for Trail 1326.
Shortly after we passed Trail 1377.2, the rising Sun brought a deep red glow to the clouds and mist over the North Fork Taneum Valley. As we continued along the ridge top, the light pouring in from the east turned orange and then brilliant gold. A heavy wind hit us from the west and Lookout Mountain emerged from the clouds just before we left the trail for the summit.
At the top we found the most pristine benchmark I've ever seen. Colin dug up a small summit register
in a film canister from under a pile of rocks. There were only a handful of entries since it was placed in August 2005, but I wouldn't be surprised if a few visitors missed it over the years. We took a rest and adjusted gear in a patch of trees below the summit while sporadic rain and clouds came and went. At one point we saw some hail and a few snowflakes.
We rejoined the trail and as we approached Windy Pass, Mount Clifty became visible, with only the true summit still obscured by clouds. The pass lived up to its name, at the saddle it was so loud that we could barely hear the pair on motorcycles on their way up Taneum Valley. We discussed our planned destinations and went our separate ways. These would be the first of about 15 motorcyclists we passed throughout the day.
We turned left a half mile west of Windy Pass, staying on Trail 1326. At the next junction 0.7 miles later we took Trail 1388, heading Southwest above an isolated patch of exposed cliff bands which we spotted earlier from Lookout Mountain. The next mile was the only muddy section of trail until we reached a large campsite at the North end of Trail 947. The rain let up as we took another short rest before the final leg of our outward journey.
Somehow we missed the next turn but a bootpath just past it and a bit of bushwhacking got us onto Trail 1321.1, which passes a few feet below the summit. If there is a benchmark or a register on Mount Clifty, I couldn't find either but there is a nice steel plaque and a pvc mailbox attached to the summit block. Inside was a single piece of laminated paper for something called "Summit the District".
We sat on the west side of the ridge out of the heavy wind and got a few glimpses of sun and the surrounding peaks as the clouds lifted around us. Snow was visible on Mount Stuart and the Enchantments through holes in the clouds.
On the way back we continued North on Trail 1321.1 then turned right onto 1321. When we returned to Windy Pass the rain returned with us and didn't stop until we were driving back through North Bend. Seconds after we unloaded at the truck, it started raining buckets.
9 hours car to car
14 miles round trip
5200' elevation gain
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