Just B and I had discussed Wright Peak a few times along with Full Moon Rising but our schedules had trouble lining up. He wasn't free 1.5 weeks back when I did FMR and I couldn't make Wright last week due to work when he went up that way. With Sunday looking decent I got some updated trail conditions from him then headed way down the Skagit Valley to the Chittenden Bridge. Justin had taken the shorter route, parking at the Nepopekum day use area then fording the Skagit River and taking the connector trail to the Galene Lakes Trail and bypassing the long flat section by the river.
I chose to hike 2km or so down the trail from the bridge then turn left and go up through the forest to hit the trail further up. A bunch of slide alder to push through, up a mossy boulder field and I'm into pleasant forest. Some bluffs further up which I contoured left to work up/around then the grade eases as I'm on the ridge proper. Not the best place to be as there's lots of blowdown and some bush so I trend right back into mostly open forest - often well spaced trees with a heavy carpet of green moss to walk on. When the grade eases again I start to hit the bush/young tree zone but shortly after came across the trail around 1200m elevation.
Nice trail with a good bed, easy to follow, some orange markers, some bushy sections, not too much wind/deadfall and I continue on at a good pace to reach the middle Galene Lake in a little over 3 hours. Mosquitoes are getting more abundant and I'm glad I brought a can of OFF with me. After a break there I made the mistake of not topping up my water bottle at the outflow. I follow the trail past the lake where it peters out, drop down a little into a small bowl then start up open slopes to Peak 1982. The heat of the day and the fast pace earlier had me feeling a little drained as I top out, thankful for a small snow patch I can use to fill up my bottle. Views are really starting to open up now with The Spickard Group southwest of me and I can see the ridge from here to Wright.
The Spickard Group: Devil's Tongue at left. Rahm on the right with Camp far right.
Wright Peak and the approach.
A track drops steeply down through the heather then I mostly stay on the ridge line to approach Wright. Justin had said to stay left and look for a dirt/scree gully at the base. I found what I think was it. A couple of sections went mild class 3 with partial stem moves then I went climbers left on dirty slopes to reach the top area which had many different insects buzzing around. I drank more of my paltry water, saving a quarter litre to mix with snow from Peak 1982 on the way back. The views were good and I welcomed the rest as I was starting to feel more drained.
Whitworth and Finlayson left to centre with Payne to Silvertip (and Rocktip) distant centre to right.
The Skagit River Valley. Outram rear left. Brice and Shawatum middle area.
Familiar names in the summit logbook.
Daly and Thompson with Slesse rear left and Welch area rear right.
Summit Cross as this peak is named for a serviceman who gave his life in WW II.
Southern view with Mount Prophet on the right. Buckner area way back left.
Summit (2047m) shot with Ross Lake, Hozomeen, Jack etc. at rear. The shirt was apt as it had felt a little punishing to get here (and there was more to come).
Zoom on Ross Lake and Jack Mountain.
The summit and Shawatum.
After 45 minutes of summit time I packed up and headed down then back along the ridge. The ascent back up Peak 1982 was tiring and I knew something wasn't quite right with me but it's mostly downhill from now.
Wright Peak summit approach from the ridge. Route up is around centre left area.
I quickly scooped some snow into my meager water, shook it up and drank it all. After a sit on the heather I wandered around taking some pictures as this peak is quite open.
Fall Moon Rising, Castle (rear left) and Hozomeen.
A well appreciated snow patch (only 2 small ones left in the area).
I did admire the flowers a little bit.
Frosty, Full Moon Rising and Castle.
Middle Galene Lake below.
I head back to the lake and promptly fill my bottle at the outflow, drink and fill again before taking another break by the camping area. My right knee (the one I broke many years ago) was aching more than normal and I was curious as to how the trail was lower down so I decided to follow it all the way back. Mosquitoes (not any blackflies around) were pretty bad sitting by the lake but the OFF did the trick.
Middle Galene Lake with Peak 1982 behind.
Hozomeen, Little Jackass, Desolation, Jack and Ross Lake from the ridge just as I started back.
And a view of Peak 1982 and the ridge travelled to Wright (summit just visible).
The trail down is really pleasant, easy to follow and a nice grade. I was feeling tired but making good progress. The upper crossing of Galene Creek is a little overgrown (some prickly stuff) and the rocks are slick. A couple more gullies are similar (minus the flowing water) then I'm on the old moss road and down to the lower creek crossing (log in good shape) and getting near to the Skagit River.
The trail (old road) in front of me seems to dead end but there is a side trail that I figure goes down to the river ford (Nepopecum Day Use Area Route). I look around to see if I can find markers or trailbed for the main trail but don't have much luck so I decide to follow the bypass trail down to the river. All sorts of plans going through my head now - wade across the river then walk down the road back to my vehicle, not that I want to really try that swift current in my drained state. At the river I confirmed this was the bypass and decided to go back up and hunt around but the shoreline here was open so I foolishly decided to follow it downstream.
This actually went very well for a while, so much that I chose to stop and have some food and drink as I knew the trail came close to the river down this way. And I had a nice view of Hozomeen from where I sat.
Hozomeen and the Skagit River.
Continuing on I got to an old oxbow and this is where I hoped to get back off the river banks and magically find the trail, walk a few more km then drink a deserved beer. Didn't quite work like that. The place I wanted to get to had creek/pond water blocking it so I backtracked and hauled myself up a steep and bushy embankment. I was under the illusion that the old road (trail) should be near here so I set off to find it. That didn't happen. What I did find was lowland dense bush, alder, devils club and other assorted foliage. I managed to get across far enough to start up the hillside but didn't see a road (I may have actually crossed the trail lower down and not noticed it).
After traversing a short while I dove back down and may have found a very overgrown road that was not fit for travel. The mosquitoes were having a great time as I was moving like a snail. In a dip I found lots of stinging nettles and battled through them for a while. I think adrenaline had kicked in as most of my tiredness had gone away - I really wanted to get out of this mess. It took a little while of heading downstream and zig-zagging then a orange marker was seen followed by a single track trail. This had some overgrown sections but I now had markers and a purpose.
There was still a bit of confusion here and there but I got back to where the old road is and soon pass where I'd left it earlier. Late evening and the mosquitoes are nuts, even with the spray they're bouncing off of me and looking for a gap. Straddling a log across the trail my left quad cramps up something fierce, my bare arms and knees are tingling greatly from the stinging nettle venom and I'm feeling more drained than I've felt in a long time. Finally I cross the bridge. Time down was an hour longer than my time up. I open a beer which went down okay then I drive for an hour back to Hope and a gas station with iced coffee and chocolate milk which made me feel better.
Once home and cleaned up sleep would not come, when I closed my eyes all I could see was a bushy path that I was walking on. My body was tired but my brain was wide awake. And my arms and knees still tingled from the nettles - that finally subsided the next day to become itchiness from the mosquito bites. I didn't feel up to much either but I did drink a lot of liquids and gave into the temptation of some salty food from McDonald's.
Map of area and rough idea of route.
Link to Justin's FB pictures (if you're on FB)
To recap, the Galene Lakes Trail is in pretty good shape with the exception of between km 3-4 (avoided if you take my up route offtrail or the river ford) and a few bushy sections near to Galene Creek.