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Trip Report    

Alpine Scramble - Petunia Peaks

This was an excellent trip in a very scenic area. North Petunia was an easy scramble, Petunia was much more challenging.

  • Road rough but passable
  • Where the trail crossed the Dungeness River, there is an unofficial path that stays on the west side.  Without knowing for sure how difficult the crossing at Camp Handy would be, we took that west side path, which has lots of minor ups and downs and one significant tree to get around (on the way back it was easier to go over it).   It's a little confusing to find the start of the Goat Lake trail, but once you're on it, it is easy to follow and in good condition.  One very exposed section has lots of trees and branches to hold onto.

    From Goat Lake, getting to the saddle and to North Petunia Peak is straightforward.  For Petunia, we had snow in the broad NW-facing gully that was hard enough to require crampons for a brief stretch.  At the top of that gully, you make a left turn up a stable talus slope to a much narrower gully with lots of loose rock.  This gully needs to be navigated with great care;  we had a relatively minor injury here that could easily have been a lot worse (see report below).  The summit is just a few yards from the top of the gully.

6 of us took the Upper Dungeness Trail a couple of miles to the bridge where the trail crosses to the east side of the river.  We took the unofficial path on the west side to where the extremely steep trail to Goat Lake heads to the west.  We passed a Boy Scout troop here who were also on their way to Goat Lake; I was very surprised how much traffic this trail gets.  We found a pleasant camping area above the lake to the west where there are a couple of tarns not shown on the USGS map, and left the lake to the scouts.  The weather was pleasant, a mix of sun and clouds.

The next day was crystal clear; we hiked up to the saddle and on to the North Peak for grand 360 degree views, but especially of the Needles across Royal Basin to the west.  We descended to the saddle and dropped down  less than 100 feet to contour around Petunia on the Royal Basin side. We soon encountered firm snow, and anticipated the possibility of needing crampons so we put them on here; in fact, they were needed for one brief section.  We took the snow up a broad snow-filled gully, then turned left up a stable talus slope toward a narrow gully with lots of loose rock.  When we got to the base of the gully, we split into 2 groups of 3.  There were a couple of alcoves on the left side where each group of 3 could wait safely.  Eventually, we needed to cross over to the right side, and here a dislodged rock hit me in the lower left arm.  The injury turned out to be relatively minor, but it was a close call.  On the descent, I decided it was safer to do in 3 groups of 2, and that worked well.

The return to camp and return to the TH were uneventful.

Wildlife encountered included a couple of deer high on a barren ridge where we would have expected to see goats, plus lots of varied bird songs.  There were lots of wonderful flowers in bloom, but the highlight for me was in the final gully on Petunia, where there were several Flett's violets in bloom.