Goat Mountain WTC Experience Trip

  • Updated: August 05, 2017
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

August 5th & 6th, 2017
Goat Mountain (12,207')
Day 1: 9.4 miles, 5,600'
Day 2: 12.5 miles, 1,800'

After last weeks car stranding adventure in Mineral King I was looking forward to a nice straightforward buttkicker.

Enter GOOOOOOOOOOOAT!  Two days!  One peak!  5k up the first day followed by 2k up and 7k down the second!  Most of which was to be done with full packs.

Despite some initial skepticism potential participants were eventually won over by my constant wandering around yelling GOOOOOOOOOAT! at them and we ended up with 11 people meeting us at the trailhead at the end of the 180.

After the trip last weekend I'd driven to Sacramento and spent the week working remotely and visiting with my parents.  As a result Friday found me driving south to a trailhead for a change.

I met my coleader Jen Blackie at Grants Grove and we ended up bivying nearby along a dirt road that heads west from Cherry Gap.  It seems this is an increasingly popular option as we found vehicles and campfires in every single pullout until we got back towards the Chicago Stump.  The road took a bit of care but Jen's passenger car managed it just fine at least that far.

The next morning we drove the remaining 45 minutes to Roads End and waited in the short line for our permit.  This permit station has been the most pleasant of any of the ones I deal with on a regular basis.  The people staffing it always seem to be super friendly and knowledgeable with a true love for the area not to mention they open at 7 am instead of the usual 8 am or later found elsewhere.

Permit in hand we gathered the group at the nearby Copper Creek Trailhead.  It's a short distance further around the loop from the permit station and leaves north from the road.

The trail goes straight up but it's a good angle and there's none of the large rock steps that make certain trails like Kearsarge such a pain.

We had some cloud cover which offered a little relief from the sun but it was so hot and muggy we were all soon soaked with sweat.

Fortunately there were water fill up opportunities along the way and we had a nice strong group.

We left the trail at 10k and found a number of ducks scattered along the hillside leading towards Grouse Lake.  The route we took on the way out followed the most prominent of the use trails we could find but it doesn't really have much of an advantage over just strolling cross country.

Up until this point other than the weather being a bit muggy the day was pleasant and we hadn't faced any significant mosquito attacks.  Then we hit this meadow.

We had someone who had split off slightly from the group and we ended up having to wait until we located them.

And had to put up with this.

Rain gear and bug nets helped a fair amount but even I resorted to bug spray and that's usually a last resort for me.  We just all prayed the last 200 ft to the lake would leave the bugs behind.

Sadly no such luck.

(Note the mosquitos in frame in the upper right)

We found a location to the southeast of the lake which had enough established camping options for everyone.  No sooner had we set up tents and drifted back together to socialize than the rain started in earnest.

I normally sleep in an Outdoor Research Bivy that has seen me through just about every type of bad weather possible but for this trip I had agreed to share a tent with Jen Blackie.  And since my last backpacking tent finally wore out we ended up using hers.

Her tent is such a classic that the tent poles aren't even connected with string.  Also it turns out that despite her protestations to the contrary that it's not actually waterproof.  The rain fly isn't seam sealed and it just made of the same material as the rest of  the tent.  And so no sooner had we climbed inside to escape the increasingly heavy rain but we found ourselves with a bit of problem.

Water coming in from the bottom, water coming in from the top, water everywhere!  Jen had to take refuge on my NeoAir mattress to stay at least a little dry and we ended up having to trashbag all of our gear inside the tent to keep it at least a little dry.

The rain let up after about an hour and we were able to move the tent from a slight depression to a slab where the water that got inside would at least be able to run out.  Sadly it was late enough we couldn't do much to dry out the damp gear.

The weather did clear after that and we were able to enjoy a group happy hour.  Sadly it seemed as soon as the rain stopped the mosquitoes returned so dinner was a headnet required affair.

The four avocados, three tomatoes, and god knows what else that Jen had packed into my bear can made for some really yummy chicken tacos with fresh guacamole.  However, the award for most memorable happy hour contribution has to go to Vish with his store bought slightly tangy tasting guacamole that somehow plopped out of it's container all by itself while we were standing around talking.

As usual we got the camp up at 4 am and had everyone walking at first light.  The peak wasn't far from camp but we were looking at 2k up and 7k down and a forecast that threatened more rain and thunderstorms.

We followed the drainage northeast of the lake and aimed for the saddle between Goat and Munger.  I wanted to go that way so we'd have a chance at a bonus peak or two.

We ended up gaining the ridge just to the right of the saddle scrambling up some steep rocks.

The very top of the ridge looked surprisingly challenging.  The north side is a sheer drop and there are rock spires blocking progress on the ridge itself.  Pretty much the entire south side goes just expect to do a bit of boulder hopping and bushwhacking.

The last bit below the peak was a straight up boulder scramble and we found ourselves on the summit looking at a lot of quickly building clouds.

We had to hustle off the summit faster than I wanted because we had clouds building up to the east and south.

Our original plan was to backtrack down the way we'd come up.  Jen was mostly sure she'd come up to the east of the peak when she'd been up here years ago but the combination of her not being sure and a rather large rockfall that went down that exact chute while we were coming up made that less than attractive.  But as it turned out you can drop down almost directly below the peak.

It was wet from the rain the previous day but made for a quick solid descent back to the drainage above Grouse.

View of Grouse Lake from the north

Our camp looked spectacular after with the rain cleared skies.  Except of course for the mosquito hoards which were of course back in force.

We tried to stick to the use trail out of curiosity while descending but as I mentioned above it didn't gain us much over our previous route.

The weather which had looked rather threatening while we were on the peak fizzled and we ended up with an all around pleasant if warm morning.

The descent was brutal on the knees but our group made good time.  We left camp at 9:45 am and were down to the cars enjoying a cool -ish beer by 2:45 pm.

Afterwards we all drove out to Visalia and enjoyed an adequate post trip mexican feast at Figaro's Mexican Grill that I probably would not repeat.

All around this was a fun strenuous trip.  It would have been nice to have had a few less mosquitos but the area is lovely and I'm looking forward to heading back sometime in the future to do a traverse starting at Harrington since the entire ridge has been quite memorable.

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  1. Awesome report Matt... and a mention of the exploding Guaaaacc!!! :)