This was a climb where absolutely nothing went as planned. Lemah Mountain is a rarely climbed cluster of 5 peaks: Lemah One, Two, Main, Four and Five. We planned to climb up to basecamp at remote Chikamin Lake n Saturday, Summit all five peaks on Sunday and hike out Sunday. Alas this is not what came to be.

All started well on Saturday. It was a cloudy day was few drop here and there falling fro the Sky. We left the Pete Lake TH at about 9am. The way is flat for 4 miles to Pete Lake. From there the trail continues on for another mile or so of level trail to a Junction. The trail to the right goes to Lemah Meadows (an alternate approach) and the right goes to Spectacle Lake. We went right and followed the trail to another junction with the PCT and headed North (left). Here the trail heads up switchbacks through a burn with underbrush already showing autumn colors. The turn off for Spectacle Lake is about one mile from the bridge over the waterfall. The trai to the lake descends about 500 feet for a 1/2 mile to the shoreline. Our beta said to cut around the North (right) side of the lake to the creek outlet on the far side of the Lake. This a a bushwack in every sense of the term. We followed the trail around the lake until it ended near a rocky cliff by the shore. We then found our way through thick trees and brush and I mean THICK brush and on game trails were we could over the cliff and ended up a few hundred feet above the lake. Then we trekked through lower brush to a talus slope. We crossed the slope until we were able to work our way carefully down the the creek outlet.

By then it was 5:00pm. A light rain was falling and mist completely concealed most of the route to Chikamin Lake and Lemah. We opted to camp at the outlet. From what we could see the route further up as class 3-4 scrambling over wet rock and heather. Not safe. It was decided that Lemah was too ambitious since we were now staged at Spectacle Lake. Instead we would continue hiking around the Spectecle Lake in the morning (the other side appeared to be a tamer bushwack. We could then link up to the 3rd creek outlet and take that up to Glacier Lake. Then we could attempt Chikamin Mountain which was smaller.

Just when we finished dinner the rain turned from light to pounding. By morning it was still heavy and when we peakout out at the mountains we saw a fresh layer of light snow 1000ft feet higher than us. Conditions would be slippery, but we decided to try to make it to Glacier Lake. We packed up camp in a short lull in the rain and continued around the lake.

The conditions were easy at first and we were able to hug the shoreline. But then some cliffs appeared again. It was easier to get over these cliffs than the ones from the day before. But above we began to run into slabs and ultimately ended up getting cliffed out with no passage. Frustrated we knew the only option was to get back to the PCT the way we came. The scattered showers  and sunshine that had been forecasted for the day had ended up being just a pure downpour instead. Conditions would be unsafe to climb anything especially with a slick layer of thin snow on the rock.

We headed back the way we came. The talus field was harder to navigate through on the way back and we got cliffed out a few times before we finally found the way through. We saw two large bucks in the brush. they were unafraid of us… probably because they knew we were not nearly as swift as them in the dense thicket. When we finally made it back to the trail it was decided that with the current conditions it would be best to just hike out and do a day scramble on Monday to salvage at least one day of the long weekend. Drenched we began the 11 mile journey back to the car… a different type of adventure than expected indeed!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *