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Mount Mystery is a large, rocky peak situated in the northeast portion of the Olympic Range within the arbitrariness of Olympic National Park. It can be seen from certain vantages from the south Puget Sound lowlands, but is mostly tucked away behind the bulk of the Constance massif. It divides the Heather Creek drainage, tributary of the Dungeness River, from Deception Creek which flows into the Dosewallips River.
It retains a considerable, though stagnant, glacier below its east and northeast cliffs which is a major source of Deception Creek. At the foot of the glacier is a beautiful little lake, thick with glacial flour. From here the water flows into lower Deception Basin where it merges with the stream which emanates from the upper basin snowfields. The streams merge to form one but seemingly flow as two with one half distinctly grey with silt from the glacier, the other half as clear as the clearest water one has seen.
[img:422100:alignleft:medium:Mount Mystery and Mystery Glacier from the lake][img:436478:alignright:medium:Terrain on the South Slope][img:423348:alignleft:small:Confluence in Deception Basin][img:230806:alignleft:small:West Face]
Mount Mystery and Mount Deception, two of the highest peaks in the range, along with the more docile Mount Fricaba and Hal Foss Peak, encircle exquisite and secluded Deception Basin. It takes some work to reach the basin but then this is what keeps the crowds away and adds appeal and charm to Deception Basin itself as a destination. But looming high above the beauty of the basin is the bulk of Mount Mystery, a major peak of the range that is infrequently visited.
The more one thinks of it, Mystery is an apt label. Mount Deception is deceptive, but more accessible with a direct approach via Royal Creek and Royal Basin. There is just something about Mount Mystery with its comparatively obscure position, unreachable by trail, and tucked in behind adjacent peaks and ridges that lends it an aura of mystery. Being one of the highest Olympic peaks, it can be seen from nearly any other peak. From the other side of the range, Mount Mystery beckons. But to reach it requires off-trail travel with a considerable expenditure of effort and calories. Mysterious indeed.
Of the several ways to reach the mountain, probably the least complicated and arduous (but still considerably demanding) is to first hike from the lower Dungeness River up Royal Creek to Royal Basin. From the lower basin follow the path to the upper basin where a steep slope is ascended to the low point in the ridge southeast of Mount Deception which divides the Royal Basin area from Deception Basin. From this saddle, which is unofficially referred to as Deception Pass, the view is grand down to Deception Basin and across to massive Mount Mystery. Steep scree slopes lead down to the basin where a beautiful camp could be made. From Deception Basin it is necessary to ascend straight up the glacier to its head. From here the route ascends the south side of the mountain up varied terrain of steep scree, snow, and rock to the summit. This route is cosidered class 3 with a couple of sections that may be considered class 4 in the solid rock gully near the top. Otherwise, the other main routes to the summit ascend via Gunsight Pass which is the gap between Mystery and Little Mystery to the SSW. One route to the gap leaves the Dosewallips River and ascends up Deception Creek where there is a fork. To follow the right branch and to ascend the gully leads to the pass. The accessibility of a route up the creek from the river is a major consideration with this route as it is quite vegetated. To reach Gunsight Pass from the other direction requires a traverse of Del Monte Ridge which stretches out several miles out toward the Constance massif and the Constance Pass area which is accessed either from the Dosewallips River trail or the upper Dungeness trail. This would be the same trailhead as that which the Royal Creek trail originates so provides an opportunity for a loop trip.
To access the upper Dungeness trail from the Puget Sound area, either cross to the Olympic Peninsula over the Hood Canal Bridge from Kitsap County or drive north along Hood Canal on Highway 101. Follow 101 two miles past Sequim Bay State Park and turn left on Palo Alto Road. Drive about 7 miles to a junction of FS roads 2880 and 28. Follow 2880 to the right which descends to the Dungeness River. 2880 then climbs to a junction with 2870, becomes 2870 and then comes to a junction with 2860 and becomes 2860. Follow 2860 until it crosses a bridge over the Dungeness River and the parking lot is immediately on the right.
To access the Dosewallips River trail, leave Highway 101 .5 mile north of the river and follow the road to where it now ends at the road washout which adds an additional 5.5 miles to the hike.[img:422085:alignleft:medium:Summit View North][img:242187:alignright:medium:Mystery from Deception]
If entering from either the Upper Dungeness or the Dosewallips there will be no vehicle entrance fee although a Northwest Forest Pass is required at the Upper Dungeness parking lot. Permits are required for all overnight trips into the Olympic wilderness backcountry. Permits (good for the entire hiking group) cost $5, plus $2 per person per night. Obtain permits with the Wilderness Information Center in Port Angeles ((360)565-3100).
Royal Basin is a quota area as it is heavily used and requires a reservation; contact the WIC in Port Angeles. Consider backpacking into Deception basin; it makes a for a beautiful camp with solitude likely. Otherwise, camps are located all along the Dosewallips with additional camps up to the Sunnybrook Meadows and Constance Pass area.