North Maggie & Moses From Maggie Lakes

  • Updated: October 27, 2012
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

October 27th to 29th, 2012
10.5 miles, 2700 ft to camp
18 miles, 6700 ft peak loop
10.5 miles, 1900 ft out

This should have been a relaxed -ish trip taking advantage of a late season break in the weather to go climb North Maggie from Maggie Lakes.  However a slightly aggressive impulse to grab nearby Moses Mountain turned it into a bit more of an adventure.

The previous year I led a WTC Experience Trip to climb Maggie & Moses from the traditional Shake Camp trailhead camping in the canyon between the two peaks.  Two days later we emerged slightly worse for the wear...

We weren't doing anything risky it was just that our group of seemingly well bodies and able minded folks were unable to walk for more than 30 minutes without someone minorly hurting themselves.  Also we turned back from Moses since we tried to do it the first day and we had a few people really dragging.

I've come to half believe that area is cursed after seeing other friends try to lead the same trip and have an assortment of minor disasters.  Hell, Jack even came close to having his leg amputated after getting cut in a stream crossing up here.

Ever since I've had Moses staring at me judgmentally from my Peakbagger SPS list.

This year I'd had a rough season suffering from some sort of exhaustion mid season that left me barely able to function around town before coming back strong and wrapping up on a 3 day Pickett Guard buttkicker before leaving the mountains behind for a few weeks to teach AMP.  During the class we had the first real winter storm of the season which normally signals the end to backpacking but then a period of warm weather melted most of it back off.

So I grabbed my girlfriend Anne and headed up to the west side for a relaxed ish three day climbing North Maggie from the Maggie Lakes side.

We drove up the night before and ended up bivying a ways before Summit TH.  It's very easy to find places to camp up there.

We found Summit Trailhead only with only a slight dusting of snow but it was on the cold end.

The trail was mostly clear but in the shade there were still patches of hard snow on protected slopes.

Other than that the hike in was quite pleasant for a 10.5 mile hike feels fairly gentle.  And it felt like we were the only people out here.  Beyond a helicopter the day we were hiking out we never saw another person.

Maggie Lakes looks to be a popular campsite but this time of year we had the area to ourselves.  We had our pick of some rather nice established sites though finding firewood required us to hike well away from camp.

It was quite chilly at night but the fire made it quite pleasant.

The next morning we had a relaxed start as we waited for it to warm up.

From out camp at Lower Maggie Lakes we just strolled up the hillside circling north of point east of Maggie and gaining the summit from the north ridge.

It was easy going except for the snow near the top.  It was rock hard in the shade and we had to really pick our footholds to avoid falling.

The summit itself was mostly clear and again it felt like there wasn't a single other person around here.

I found my sign in from the trip last year.  Turns out that ordeal had actually been Anne's first SPS peak.  Which obviously prepared her expectations well for all the other adventures!

At this point we'd had a pleasant little climb and had I elected to head back to camp (possibly grabbing the other Maggie Peak along the way) it would no doubt have stayed that way.  However the day was amazingly pleasant and it seemed a shame to just head back to camp.  Especially with Moses beckoning to me across the canyon.

Moses is the peak blocked by the trees on the left.  Can't you see it beckoning?

I managed to convince Anne we should take a shot at Moses.  She'd been on a fair number of peakbagging trips with me and was starting to understand just how mocking those orphan peaks can be.

The descent of the west side of Maggie Maggie is a bit of a bushwhack and not near as pleasant as the Maggie Lakes side.  On the plus side there was less snow here so we had to worry less about our footing.

By the time we reached the Tule 2000 ft down Anne was slightly tired and I was concerned about the amount of daylight we had left.  However she wanted me to get the peak (and I really didn't want another failure on it) so we came up with a plan where she would wait by the river and I would do the peak at a rapid pace.  Just a quick 2000 ft up, a 3rd class ridge, then a 2000 ft drop.  No problem...

The slopes leading to the Moses ridge are steep but not particularly loose or difficult.  And I was determined.

Despite my best effort by the time I reached the ridge it was apparent I was behind schedule.  It looked like I was going to end up turning around at just about the same point I had last time.

I went for it anyway.

Only slightly winded

Orphan properly dealt with now I had to deal with the reality that the sun would soon be down and Anne wasn't exactly wild about being alone down there after dark.  It's easier to climb the Moses ridge the further north you are but to save time I found a chute that I could see basically went and dropped off the side.

I might have had to do a few 3rd / 4th class brush moves but it worked.  Ish.  But I wouldn't recommend doing it again.

I made down maybe 45 minutes after dark and just about collapsed beside a still surprisingly understanding Anne.  In my rush to get the peak I hadn't really taken a break beyond a few minutes at the summit and I was hungry and beat.

Looking at our options I decided it was going to be easier to circle around on the trail to Summit Lake and over Sheep Mountain rather than bushwhack back over Maggie and come down the slick snow.  I was slightly run down after the past few hours and getting up and over the nearly 10k pass next to Sheep Mountain was a struggle but it was all trail.

We made it back to camp at 1:30 am.  At which point we built a fire and cooked a nice dinner because what else were we going to do?

The next morning we understandably slept in for a bit and enjoyed the lake before hiking out.

Ignoring the fact I went over for Moses this is a really nice trip all around and would be perfect for a WTC experience trip.  Three days would give you plenty of time to enjoy the lake and a 2 day would also be feasible though with the drive it would be long.

You Might Also Like