Mt. Higgins (West) - 4985'
Miles: 11.25 * Gain: 3900' * Map: GT Oso # 77
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So the score is Round Mtn. 3 and me 0.  Round was the first choice for Carrie and I, but once again it was not to be.  I've tried this twice now in winter and due mostly to not having what it takes to do 9 miles and 3400' in the snow, didn't make it.  Late starts and short days contributed, so today should be different.

Carrie's done it before 10 years ago and remembered the route to be pretty straight forward and easy.  We turned north from Hwy 530 on to Swedeheaven Road looking for Rd 18.  Nothing marked Rd 18 that we saw, but I did sort of remember the road we needed to take from the two previous trips (I think it's marked 373rd).

According to a poor photocopy of a guidebook we had, we should find Segeleson Lake at about 12.3 miles. Which we did. From there things were more sketchy. We needed to find Rd 1850, but for some reason, none of the roads we crossed were marked in any way. So after some trial and error poking around, we took the road leading SW from the south end of the lake. Turns out this is Rd 1850.

We were able to drive about 1/2 mile maybe a little more before the water bars became more serious and the van could go no further. The photocopy and Carrie's memory of the route were a little fuzzy but we were pretty sure that we needed to get to Coney Pass, traverse west to the basin at 4500' and the aim for the summit from there. The best way looked to be to follow the road to it's end and then ascend the slopes to the pass. Which we set off to do.

It was already pretty warm, even at 10:30am, and within a few hundred feet of leaving the road and scrambling up hill, we were beginning to question whether this was such a good idea. Carrie who has had foot troubles recently, was sure that there was a path and that it wasn't on particularly difficult terrain. Where we were something quite different. Steep, brushy and with the heat and bugs getting to be less and less fun. Ahead looked like lots more of the same. With motivation waning, we started to think about a plan B: Higgins.

Neither of us are the "summit at all costs" types, so why not just bail on Round? We were obviously not on the easy terrain Carrie remembered but if we wimped out now, there would still be time to salvage the day and at least get some exercise on Higgins. So that's what we elected to do, retracing our steps to the van and driving back west to C Post (Sea Post) Road.

I didn't check my odometer or my altimeter, so I don't know exactly how far we drove up C Post before it ended in a washout.  But it sure wasn't what Carrie remembered as the trailhead.  Uh oh.  Oh never mind, just park and start hiking along the old road beyond the washout.  Within a mile or so, it narrowed into trail and Carrie started to notice familiar landmarks.

Higgins has three distinct points along the summit ridge; the west, middle and east peaks.  The west was home to a fire lookout at one point which has since been reduced to a pile of splintered lumber.  The middle is pretty impressive, looks technical, but Beckey says just class 2 (identified as Skadulgwas on the USGS map).  The actual high point is the east peak at 5176'.  We only had time to do the west peak since we spent so much of the day not doing Round.

It was likely over 85 as we hiked up the road/trail.  The trail crosses a clear cut on a nice open rocky south facing slope (think oven) before ducking into the trees. Much nicer to be out of the direct sun, but the bugs, both flies and mosquitoes were horrendous. We couldn't stop without being mobbed from all sides. It was actually tough to decide if we wanted to stop long enough to put on bug repellent... the little bastards were that bad.  Breaks on the way up were short and few.

The trail winds around a bit but puts on elevation pretty quickly to get to the lake.  You get a nice break from the uphill slog as you pass Myrtle Lake and a boggy meadow at about 3500', before getting back business to gain the ridge north of the lookout.  From there we had an easy hike up patchy snow and slabs to the lookout site.  Nice day with great views and as long as the breeze was blowing over the summit few bugs.

Consulting some of her old books on Round Mtn., Carrie says that she's pretty sure we were really close, on the right road, but likely missed the faint track through what is now a clear cut.  We'll try it again, maybe later this year.  

Very nice to be out with Carrie today.  Her foot problems have forced her to cancel out of trips this year and she has been missed. Encouraging that it she seemed to make it through the day without much trouble.

*includes 1.25 miles and 300' of gain on the aborted Round attempt. West Higgins from the washout is 10 miles and 3600' .
 Drive Hwy 530 toward Darrington.  At 17.6 miles east of arlington, go north on C Post (Sea post) Road and follow for as far as your car will allow.  We made it to the end of the road at the major washout, probably 1 mile shy of the TH or approximately 3 miles from the hwy (c. 1200').
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