Pechugh Peak' 5505 Feet, Prominence 785'
Kawkawak Point' 5121 Feet, Prominence 361'
Colquhoun Peak 5173 Feet, Prominence 573'
Sawmill Ridge 5207 Feet, Prominence 1047'
(USGS and GT Lester)
Map of area
May 31, 2001
Green River-Greenwater River Divide from south
1-Colquhoun Peak, 2-Kawkawak, 3-Sawmill Ridge, 4-Pechugh Peak, 5-Windy Gap Pt 5520+/P320, 6-Pyramid Peak
I wanted to make it a quick day so I could be back in town to see Peggy Goldman 's talk on her new 75 Scrambles book at REI. I wasn't expecting it to be as quick as it was. The Greenwater River Road 70 takes off only 55 miles from my house.
I drove this to FR 7030 up Whistler Creek to the ridge between Kelly Butte and Pyramid Peak , expecting to hit snow at 4200' or so. But there was a ton of logging and road building going on up here, so the roads were in good shape and clear. I can't remember ever seeing so many logging rigs and dump trucks in one area in my entire life. At least a dozen of them forced me to the side of the road at different times.
Pechugh Peak (5505' with 785' Prominence) was my first goal. This unnamed summit is the highest peak on the Lester Quad. I drove east past Colquhoun to a saddle on the ridge separating the Green and the Greenwater Rivers, just west of this summit. A spur road now switchbacks up this slope to about 5100', but snow stopped the car at 4840'.
This is a bulky landform, treed on top, and shaved on the west. Since it's on the divide of the Greens, and the highest summit on this quad, I first thought of it as “Envy Peak,” but that's too good a name for it. “Mo-Lester” also came to mind, for what the loggers have done to this landform on the Lester quad, but that's not PC, so in my mind it became “Pechugh Peak,” after the Chinook word for “green.” It also finally dawned on me for the first time that Kelly Butte probably got its name from the Green-theme as well.
Harry Majors, in his fact-full masterpiece, Exploring Washington, tells this story: “About 1963, song writer John Denver (born as Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.) worked for a summer in a logging camp near Lester. One of the loggers didn't like John's singing and smashed his guitar.” Jeff Howbert heard this tale and pointed out, “John Denver probably got off easy in that encounter.”
Kawkawak Point (5121') is just west of Pechugh. This is Chinook for “light green.” It has 361' of prominence. There are some open views just west of its tufted summit.
Colquhoun Peak (5173') looks like a wooded pyramid as you approach it from the lower Greenwater, but its east face is a rock cliff. There is a spur road off the main drag which accesses a short trail to the top of this former lookout site, where the views are now pretty much bothered by trees, but if you walk the mossy/rocky rib SW from the last switchback, there are great views to Rainier, Noble Knob, and on up the Greenwater to Naches Pass.
What is the source of this unusual name? Hitchman notes that the owner of a summer home near the peak applied the name for his son who drowned in a nearby pool. Unusual first name. A Google search indicates that this is the name of a Scottish clan, which makes more sense. Their motto is, “If I can.” The skinny spur road was blocked by snow just before its wide end so this made for a nervous back-down, then edge-hanging turn-around for me.
Sawmill Ridge 5207, with a nice P1047
Sawmill Ridge is named on the USGS map but not my 1975 Lester Green Trails map. A road now takes off from the Kelly Butte road to access a tree-mowing project out beyond this ridgetop. This makes for quick access to an easy walk up the last bit of the SW ridge in open meadows to terrific 360 o views. Colquhoun gets swallowed by Rainier from this angle. The above four “peaks” took 3 hours, and completed the Lester Quad for me.
I had so much time left over, I decided to drive up and over the Naches Pass road, a place I'd never been to before, and down the other side. On a trip last month, 7-year old Aaron was in the back seat, thumbing through DeLorme and discovered something Jeff Howbert and I (two people who spend way too much time looking at maps) had never appreciated before. Naches Pass is the one and only place in Washington State where four counties touch (King, Pierce, Kittitas, and Yakima). Whitman, Columbia , Franklin , and Walla Walla come close, but not quite.
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