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Scatter Peak
posted by John : July 31, 2011

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I thought you said no more off-trail trips!

After conquering the floor on Saturday I had Sunday to play. Amy and the kids were in Portland and although the prospect of lounging around on the cool cement floors of the house was appealing, I decided to hike. Luckily, Eric was also up for it. So was Treen. Of course, all three of us are generally ready to go at a moment's notice, but this would be a daylight hike!. Yeah. Amazing!

To make the most of it we left early and headed east. We'd hoped to tackle a Middle Fork peak that had been on my list for a while, but lousy weather reports pushed us up the Cle Elum valley where we could hope for a few spots of sun.

Although both Eric and I are pretty experienced, we've made our share of navigational blunders. Like driving past the trailhead. Twice. Or risking heart failure as we forded Scatter Creek in Eric's CRV. Twice. But eventually, we found a spot to pull over where we could hook up with the trail. This trail was shown both on USGS maps and on Internet trip reports. Ergo, it must be there.

(Ergo is what you say when you want to imply it's not your fault it wasn't where everyone said it should be.)

Needless to say, it wasn't there. We found only ancient signs of a trail as we criss-crossed it, according to our GPS. So… we just went up. That's the benefit of TNAB. We're plenty happy just climbing. Brush be danged!

Well, until the brush got to be a bit too brushy for even us. That's when we started side-hilling. Until we decided we needed to drop at some point and it might as well be now. So down we went to pick up the supposed trail that was below us. Ha! Suckers. Seriously, it wasn't there.

But we did find Scatter Creek. Small victories, huh?

Refreshed in both mind and body, we crossed the creek in search of a trail on the other side. The GPS showed one there, too, but could we really trust that it was still present? Well, we did and this time it payed off. We stumbled on a nice trail and followed it to just below the peak. (That made it sound really short, but it wasn't quite that quick.)

Lunch in the basin and then up a loose rock slope to the ridge. Suddenly, we were seeing a whole new valley on the other side, plus cool peaks all around.

Scatter wasn't much to look at, even from the top. In fact, it's not really even the highest Scatter Peak, though the map shows it as such. (And how much do we trust maps at this point?) Most people call it the Scatter Benchmark, because it is home to a monument. Still, it was our first stop of the day.

Near the summit we found no register, but did find a really old tin can of sorts with what appears to be a disintegrating register inside. Who knows how old it really was, but we'll go with the idea it was placed in 1898 since that's what was printed inside. (Yeah, right. I know. Probably placed in 1998.)

(Fellow TNABer Yukon let us know that it wasn't an old register we found, but mining claim papers and they were likely 112 years old! Even cooler!)

We followed the ridge toward the other Scatters since we had originally planned for them, but time was running short and the route was sketchy at best. Instead, we retreated the way we had come, but avoided the bushwhack by staying on the trail all the way down to the road. Except, well, dang. Now we were a half mile from the car. Is a road walk better than a bushwhack? Hard to say, but it was awfully nice when we reached the car to head home.

Total distance was -- wait. We're not done.

No, not close. We were finished with Scatter so early that we decided to run up to Lake Lillian before heading all the way home. Why? Because I was tentatively planning Lilly's overnight there the next week. Good thing we check it out because it was almost completely frozen. Blah!

Now: Total distance was 10.7 miles and about 5,100 feet of gain.

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