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Trip Report

Mebee Lookout, East Creek & Mebee High Route — Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2022

North Cascades
Mebee High Route, Mebee Pass upper L, Methow Pinnacles to R of it - C P

I went to Mebee Lookout via East Creek trail, stayed over, next day out on the High Route.

I slept in the back of the truck at East Creek trailhead the night before (Hwy 20, MP 144), had the parking lot and spotless bathroom to myself.  And no bugs!   The first logging truck woke me up at 4:30, and like a snooze button, the others followed about 20 minutes apart.  Get up!

Day 1 (7/26):  Walking at 8 AM, started early enough I was in the shade up the switchbacks, across East Creek, and to the trail to Gold Hill Mine, 4 miles, 2.5 hours.  It was getting hot, bugs were out.  Slow going through the meadows and many down trees.  Someone wrote in the visitors' book they counted 220 step-over logs in less than 4 miles.  It is better flagged so you should have no trouble finding your way.  The second crossing of East Creek has changed, really no way I could see to get across dry.  Not a big deal.  Third crossing log is so thin you need a pole for balance, fall would be inconsequential.

I got 4 liters at the last water, 3 streams next to each other that join below the trail (est. 6100').  I didn't know if there would still be snow by the Lookout,  there is one patch that will last a week.

Seven hours to cover the 9 miles to the top.  The door had blown off, I picked it up and leaned it against the building, it was OK.  I was the first to write in the book this year so it may have been open a while.  There was some mud and other crud on the floor I swept up, no evidence of animals inside.  Bugs were bad so I laid down my painter's plastic, hung the bug net from the rafters, blew up the pad and fluffed the sleeping bag.  I took a nap, was going to get up to see the sunset but never did.  I was beat.

Day 2 (7/27):  Sun shining through the open door before 6 AM, still 66 degrees inside.  Made coffee and oatmeal, bugs started coming alive with the sun, walking at 8.  I was a little hesitant to do the High Route by myself, but I knew i didn't want to take the trail again.  Looks difficult from afar, but is pretty easy!  Plenty strenuous but never dangerous.  From Mebee Pass, angle above the big rock on the R, cross a couple gullies and then up to the top.  There are different ways you can do it, if it's ever scary you're going the wrong way.  2 hours Lookout to here.

Stay high, climbing slightly until the dirty slope you will descend is within reach.  Be sure to not try and drop too soon, difficult travel.  The top is easy and scenic, views in every direction.  Made it to the dirt and dropped to the wide, larch-covered ridge crest. 

I could see there was snow along the way, I had started with 3 liters but that would never be enough this hot day.  I just had to be sure I had enough water to melt it, if you overdo it you can't go back!  Stopped a few times to add snow, at the last patch I filled up all my bottles.  Only had 16 ounces left when I got to the truck.

I used almost as much sunscreen, little shade mid-day.  I set my gloves down early on at a cross-country stop, when I realized, I could not find the spot.  So I slathered the SPF 30 on my hands, face and neck (I wore my wide hat), otherwise no exposed skin.  

Over the bumps along the Route, easy walking so you can enjoy the spectacular views.  Beyond the last high point and down to the obstacle rock, over to the dead trees and ... somebody took the rope!  It had been there for a couple years, Noah and I used it, Aric and Morgan and I used it.  Now gone.

So.  My options were, go back the way I came, camp another night somewhere along the ridge since I didn't have time to get out that way today from here.  Good thing there was water.  Or, find a way up this!  I had never climbed the rock without the rope but had to try.  The gulley it hung down was impossible without it, steep slabs with loose pebbles and no hand holds.  Just past I found a spot that the bottom 20 feet or so was doable, more difficult to go back down if I failed, would have to take my chances it would get me to the top.  I threw the rake up in one spot so I could use both hands. 

Uneventful from there (lots of tiny logs, no bugs!) down to East Creek trail above the switchbacks, back to the TH.  9 and a half hours out, I figure about 1800' gain, 6700' loss on the way out, probably over 10 miles.  My feet hurt.

I didn't see anybody this whole trip, trail is snow free so time to come on up!  Get lots of water before the top, if you want to do the High Route (and you should!), go down from the Pass and get water, then come back up.  The highest snow on the Route is 10 feet thick in places but will probably only last 2 weeks with the heat.  Good thing is you can see the Route from the Lookout so you'll know what to expect.  Not for everyone, but if you can get up the first mountain (Methow Pinnacles) you can do it.  If I can climb it carrying a rake then you can climb it with both hands free.

This is the second time I have done the route in this direction, and once (never again!) coming up.  Way more scenic than the trail, though it, too, has its merits.  Difficult in different ways.  Take the trail in so you have water, and can see how terrible it is.  You'll appreciate the High Route even more on the way out.

After staying here last year I sent $200.00 to FriendsofMebeeLookout and I was told they were putting in the windows this summer.  I haven't heard anything since but am hoping they're going to.  Still super cool in its current state.  Advise keeping your shoes on in the building, I got a nasty sliver in just socks last year, floors are rough.

No discount burritos at Marblemount Shell, Carol refuses to turn on the case when it's hot outside, today it was close to 100!  Ice cream bar selection was slim but they did have La Michoacana Lime popsicles, I sat and ate one, got a second for the road.  AHHH!

Majestic Mountain with Mount Ballard and Azurite Peak behind from Mebee High Route - C P
My home away from home, I've probably stayed here more nights than any other living person, staffed 1934-1953 - C P
Black Peak, Fisher Peak, Mount Arriva, Cosho, Kimtah, Katsuk, Mesatchie Peaks (Ragged Ridge) from Mebee High Route - C P


Geert van Mourik on Mebee Lookout, East Creek, Mebee High Route

Hi CP, on the back of earlier questions:

I have planned a multi day trip starting at East Creek. I arrive late so Will sleep at Gold Hill mine. Second day I plan to go up mebee and then go down to pct up to about cutthroat.
I am quite comfortable with the mileage, also in mountainous environment.
But, I read that the going is quite slow due to blowdowns etc. You reckon going from Gold Hill to Cutthroat is too ambitious?


Geert 'GP' van Mourik

Posted by:

Geert van Mourik on Jul 31, 2022 02:59 AM

C P on Mebee Lookout, East Creek, Mebee High Route

When I arrive late I like to camp in the parking lot night 1, don't have to carry provisions. The mine building is good camping, about 3 hours from the TH, water is 1/2 mile down the hill. There is another spot with less of a view, but has water, just past the trail up to the building. It's right on the East Creek trail so no extra walking. Eldon camped there and wrote a Report.

As far as too ambitious, It may be too much from GHM to the PCT, all the hard stuff in 1 day. About the logs, you must have seen Whitonthego's Report from 7/23. It was not difficult when I went from Mebee Pass to the PCT last year, but there may be new stuff down. I don't like to be up against darkness when doing difficult stuff, it's stressful enough without that worry. Each of the 3 times I have descended this I have camped in the Lookout, started down in the morning. That's what I would recommend, get water from streams at 6100' on the way up.

I would say it is too much to go from GHM to Cutthroat Pass in a day, probably 12+ hours walking. Plus you're rushing through all the good stuff. Stay in the Lookout, that way if there is trouble you'll have time to turn around if you have to. I am planning to hike this tomorrow so will have info after. I will write a Report.

Posted by:

C P on Jul 31, 2022 11:36 AM