USGS McLeod Mountain

Oct 2-3, 2004

John Roper with Ian Mackay, Jerry Huddle, and Dougie the dog


Along (or near) the ridge running north of Mazama dividing Lost River from Goat Creek are the map named summits Flagg Mountain (mostly drivable to good views of Methow valley), Goat Peak (with its functioning lookout), Setting Sun Mountain, McLeod Mountain, and Sunrise Peak. This ridge then tee's at its north end into Isabella Ridge to head for the Craggys and Sherman.


The drawing cards for all of us were the Pasayten golden larches and a perfect October weekend, and for Ian the fact that McLeod is one of his middle names, for Jerry a chance to be high and mellow in a good sense, and for me to collect a few named and unnamed peaks, including one in the Top 200 (McLeod).

Pasayten pleasures. Silver Star from McLeod ridge.


We drove to Mazama, then a couple miles SE to pick up the Goat Creek road which was followed 7 miles to FS Rd 500 up Long Creek into Whiteface Creek. These drainages were decimated in the summer of 1994 by a fire that burned approximately 3,700 acres.


We parked at a nice high start (5300 feet) at a bermed spur, just before the road crosses Whiteface Creek (200 miles from Bellevue). Hiking the spurs that led farther up Whiteface Creek, we shook our heads at the wasted taxpayer bucks the FS spent making dirt humps in this road. With the thought this would be the last water we'd see for two days, we filled all bottles at 5800' and continued on to a 6800' knob at the highest reaches of Whiteface Creek and called this camp. Fresh horse prints marked the ground just east of here.


Setting Sun Mountain 7253'/P533

Map  Crosshair is on our camp.

Setting Sun Mountain

Little jerry lake sits at the base of the talus field beneath the rounded summit.

Azurite and Ballard left. Robinson right.

After setting up tents, we headed around the arcing ridge above Gate, Yellowjacket, Weenan, and Sunset Creeks to the gentle arcing top of Setting Sun Mountain. This is a mighty nice piece of view property with great vistas down the Methow and over to the backlit Gardners, Silver Star, Washington Pass peaks, and the Pasayten Big Boys. On the ground along the way, we kept running into telephone wire that used to course from Goat Peak to Setting Sun.


A quick look in Kresek's Fire Lookouts book reveals that the Setting Sun lookout was an “L-5” (10'x10' cabin) built in 1934, destroyed in 1953. Jerry knew the cabin type after finding the roof cap, and also mentioned that the 1937 FS map showed the trail over here from Goat, and he had heard about the telephone wire from a Winthrop FS old-timer. How the heck does that single wire work we wondered—guess ground completes the circuit.


Now that I look at that 1937 Chelan National Forest map, I see that there were lots of trails around this area that have since been abandoned. Back then trails led up the east (and west) bank of Lost River to Eureka Creek, and the Setting Sun LO could be accessed via trails up Yellowjacket to Weenan Creek, or along the ridge from Goat. There was a “Stockmens Cabin” on the upper Yellowjacket-Gate Creek ridge. Furthermore, the entire ridgeline we eventually traversed over to the saddle under McLeod had a south-side trail, and this McLeod saddle ("Roundup Meadow") could be reached by trails up either side of Roundup Creek. Harry Majors in Exploring Washington (1975) came up with the discovery that Lage Wernstedt made the first ascent of Setting Sun Mountain (and Sunrise Peak) in 1925.


The Setting Sun LO sat on a rock basement, and the 60 year-old crapper was still in fine shape, though a little cocked.

Jerry in the basement of Setting Sun Mountain LO with Ian and Dougie behind.

Looking up Lost River.

Setting Sun privy

Setting Sun privy. Monument Peak and Lake Mountain above. Monument Creek on right.

From the summit, we spotted a small pond not shown on the map to the east at 6400'. Jerry graciously volunteered to drop down with a 5-gallon container to replenish our questionably adequate water supply while Ian, Dougie, and I reversed tracks back to camp, giving ourselves credit for


Peach Peak' 7181'/P301


Peach Peak' left

Fawn Peak center. Goat Peak right.

With greater than 300 feet of prominence, Peach would count as a worthy goal in CA, AZ, CO, etc. It was named for it's rounded, fuzzy, yellow-orange color and shape.


To our surprise and admiration, Jerry made it back to camp only a few minutes behind us with 20 pounds (10 liters) of water dipped out of the one-foot deep “little jerry lake.” That night we enjoyed various gifts from Ian who eventually had to be encouraged to sleep in his tent with his dog instead of on the ground outside.


We woke late the next morning, another perfect day, to Ian's cheerful voice, and didn't get rolling until 8:50 AM. The first summit in our way (Ian wanted to walk under it to save energy) was


Peak 7459/P378

Larchy Mtn

Larchy Mountain left.  Midday Mtn right.

This one went through several name iterations in our minds as the trip went on. The initial suggestion was Clown or Mime Mountain' (above Whiteface Creek), then Jerry started calling it “ Larchy Mountain ,” because it was. This is the only peak that Jerry had ever named, so what the heck, I'm going with that on my list, though “Cappuccino Mountain” was another consideration when we found an unopened can of the brew laying on the ground just a few yards below the summit. After some discussion regarding its safety, the label stating that the expiration date was Feb '05 swayed us into popping the lid and passing it around, giving Dougie the lion's share. Next, we headed SE to do


Peak 7670'/P430

Midday Mountain

Map  Crosshair is on Midday.

Midday Mountain

above Roundup Meadow. Hurricane Creek to right.

We also had trouble agreeing on for a name for this one. Maybe Midday Mountain' would work since it sits about halfway between Sunrise and Setting Sun. This had two nearly equal-height summits, with a small unmarked cairn resting on the x7670 point. Its quite steep 600' north face will not see an ascent for a long while.


The prettiest patch of local land up high was the open “Roundup Meadow” at the saddle between Midday and McLeod at the head of Roundup Creek. Except for the occasional cow pie, it has much to recommend as a campsite and place to while away a half day, though one should go earlier in the year for water. The 1937 map shows a trail dropping off the Hurricane Creek side here for about a mile.


McLeod Mountain 8099'/P579

McLeod Mountain 8099'

with picturesque Roundup Meadow at its base.

The scramble from the meadow to the top of McLeod is up messy, loose talus. Stay on the crest. According to Harry Majors, this peak had its FA in 1904 (100 years ago!) by E.C. Barnard of the International Survey Party (who also did Robinson and Castle Peak the same year). It was named by the FS in 1929 for early settler Angus McLeod. The summit has a 1961 benchmark, the year I graduated from high school.


From here all the central Pasayten Big Boys line up in a tight row: Monument, Lake, Blackcap, Osceola, Carru, Lago, Ptarmigan, Lost. The Lost River Gorge begs a visit, and speaking of gorges, Hurricane Creek's lower defile should be checked out. The three Craggys separate out nicely from here, and Isabella Ridge invites a revisit. The basins to the east and NW of McLeod are much more barren than the rest of the cirques coming off this ridge. Beckey makes the comment, “The NW subpeak (8,041 ft/2451 m) trends toward Sunrise Peak.” However, there is no such animal. We considered running the ridge NE to Peak 7920'/P320, but Ian lobbied strongly for beers in Mazama after singing us a couple of his favorite Scottish tunes.

Ian Donald McLeod Mackay and Dougie the Dog on McLeod Mountain

Sunrise Peak left, Craggys center, Isabella Ridge and Sherman Peak right.


Pistol, Monument, Lake, Blackcap, Osceola, Carru, Lago from McLeod


Lost River Gorge and Hurricane Creek gouge the valleys below the Pasayten Big Boys

Returning to our packs in Roundup Meadow, we followed the gentle Roundup-Long-Whiteface ridge through nice terrain with horseprints, then along an ancient road not shown on the map, then through the jackstrawed burn back to the car. Just above the burn, we were surprised to run into Don, a long dark-haired, bearded Canadian who told us he was hiking out of his vacation home at Mazama celebrating Sukkot , a Jewish holiday, where one of the concepts is to be happy and rejoice. We were, and did.