USGS Sedro-Woolley South
August 17, 1999
Party: JR, Jack Roper, Aaron Roper (age 5), Reenie (Roper) Butterworth, John Butterworth
—The Skagit Gadget is a chunky, but unmistakable 1120+ foot blob immediately south of Sedro-Woolley across the Skagit River, unnamed on maps.
Pretty much every year since 1963 when we first climbed Trappers Peak above our home in Newhalem, my dad and I (with friends and relatives) have climbed a mountain, usually in the Skagit corridor, peaks like Haystack, Dock Butte, Sauk, Illabot, Diobsud, Hidden Lakes Peak, Oakes, Maurine Peaks, Ross, Pyramid, Paul Bunyans Stump, Sourdough, Ruby, and The Roost.
Somewhere around 1971 when we climbed Newhalem Peaks (above Stout Lake, and visible from town), he announced, exhausted on our return, “This is my Last Mountain.”
But, he has been doing his “Last Mountain” every year since. He likes to kid his friends that “It's very important to be consistent about an exercise program. I like to climb a peak a year, just to stay in top shape.”
He's 84 now (in 1999), so we have to tone our goal to the years. So this year we picked Skagit Gadget. Drive into Sedro-Woolley and turn south on HW 9. Cross the Skagit River and in less than a mile, turn left (east) just before Clear Lake . Follow this about 2 miles uphill to a left turn and park in 0.2 miles at a gated road on the left, elevation 379'. There's a new sign here since last year placed by a tree-growing company that calls the 920' bump above the gate “Clear Lake Hill.”
Dad, son Aaron, sister Reenie, nephew John and I hiked the gated road north around this first bump, passing under powerlines, then took a left fork (the crushed-gravel road to the right goes to a cell-phone tower). It's about 2 miles and 700' vertical gain to the top of Skagit Gadget.
The summit is logger-enhanced for a wonderful 360-degree panorama. This is the premier viewpoint for the lower Skagit Delta, and the big islands of the San Juans bulge above the Whulge. Upriver, a piece of the Twin Sisters Range, Baker, Bacon, Electric, Cement and others are identified. Sedro-Woolley is a stone's throw away.
Dad found a grassy spot to lie down in, then after lunch and photos around, he trucked back down to the car, proclaiming again the familiar line, “This IS my Last Mountain.”
[A year and a half before, on March 7, 1998, several of Chris Weber's climbing buddies, including Bruce Gibbs, Bette Felton, Jeff Howbert, John Roper, Mike Bialos, Dave Stephens, Dave Creeden, Kal Brauner, and Amy Carlson got together with him to make the hike to Skagit Gadget. This was Chris' last summit before he died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma later that spring of 1998.]