Sorcery Mountain 04-27-2021

Summit Bonsai
Summit Ridge

I conjured up a summit to Sorcery Mountain this evening It was a beautiful clear night, perfect for a climb, however, I did not have a sunset in my spellbook tonight, which I missed from the summit, however, enjoyed it as I ascended the West side of the mountain as it set over Galleon Mountain. 4160 feet of gain, 9 miles, 6:30 hours moving time, 10:00 hours total time.

I had the afternoon off and was able to hit the trailhead just before 3 PM. The road into Dingford is rough and took longer to reach the trailhead than I recalled from prior visits, however, the route in, is flat for about two miles after an initial 1000 feet gain on early switchbacks, so I figured I would hit the summit with plenty of time to enjoy the sunset. Boy was I wrong… Routefinding, soft snow conditions, hundred of tree and rock wells, degrading snow bridges, lurking ankle breakers, lack of a discernable path and good tracks to follow, and forgetting my food made for an adventure that was more than I was anticipating this afternoon!

I initially had some route finding challenges finding where to turn off the trail past Goat Creek – I overshot the turnoff as I missed any markings, and was making my merry way to Mount Price – wrong mountain! I backtracked back and forth for a bit before finally turning up based on one of my downloaded GPX routes – one from our own Mel Fernandes. I only found two pink markers at a couple of hundred feet on the turn-off the trail to the left. I found a faint trail and some tracks that led straight up a path to the right of Goat Creek on a ridge about 100+ feet above the creek – I followed this as far as I could and the increasing snow cover made navigation challenging – I was able to follow some faint tracks, but these vanished and reappeared through the route. My adventure up crossed several tributaries from the lake which I could hear below the snow – bridges were fragile and I crossed back and forth up the hill, attempting to avoid these and lurking tree and rock wells – many of which I unexpectedly found. There are hundreds of blowdowns across this slope, most of which have snow melting out – I found the majority of the way challenging and treacherous in terms of post-holing and falling through the snow. About halfway up I switched into snowshoes, which made the going faster up to Horseshow Lake which I reached around 6:20 PM – far behind my timeline. At this point I discovered that my food bag was missing – a first – now I love to eat and need calories on a hard hike – this was going to be challenging. I had a 2nd GPX track from 4-21 on Peakbagger, which made a direct ascent up the mountain from the lake, connecting at the ridge about 300 feet from the summit – I found some tracks that aligned with this route and proceeded directly up the face. The snow was soft and I was slipping a lot in my snowshoes – the combination of the slope angle and snow conditions made for slow going – I would lose a step and slide back 1 out of every two steps.

About halfway up, I switched into my microspikes, wishing I had my 12 points with me as that was what made the tracks I was following and seemed a better option. I made better time with this traction selection and enjoyed the setting sun at my back as I ascended. The sun set and I was still not at the summit. I finally made the ridge, and then the remaining 400 feet to the summit, however upon creating the top I spied something higher to the Norther East a couple of hundred feet away, but alas I appeared to be topped out and unable to traverse directly there, and was flanked by some serious dropoff to my sides – fortunately, I advanced, and saw that the ridge connected – I attained the true summit and cautiously avoided what appeared to be a corniced top to the North. I took a couple of photos, and since I had no food, and it took nearly two hours for me to get up from the lake (terribly disquieting) darkness was setting in and I was in for another Alpine Finish – by the time I started down it became dark very quickly. Fortunately, my tracks were easy to follow and the soft snow made for quick and easy plunge stepping. The moon was not yet out and it became very dark very fast. I continuously scanned my surrounding, practicing good situational awareness for any wildlife that could take an interest in me. Given my late-night finish this past weekend I was fortunately accompanied by friends Sig and Petzl to protect against any threats, plus the Dingford trailhead is very deep in the Alpine Lake Wilderness.

I made good time to the lake, refilled my water at the outlet, and struggled and stumbled down this hill – finding more hidden wells than I could count. It was truly miserable getting down and my time reflected that. The lack of food did not help. I ended up too far East and had to make a couple of sketch creek crossings over rotten snow bridges and slick logs – I could not wait to connect with the Dingford Trail! Finally, I found a large boulder with a stump at its top and was able to hobble the reaming miles to the trailhead, arriving just before 1AM. As I descended the Moon breaded the Mount Price ridge and illuminated my back like a spotlight – It was beautiful to have the Moon out in such stunning fashion. Upon reflection, I wish I had the time and planned to camp at the summit, to enjoy the moon and the surprising Alpine Lakes peaks as the weather was calm, largely cloud-free and it would have made for a beautiful night and sunrise, with better visibility descending.

The Dingford trail is gorgeous, flanked by a thunderous creek on the right side, and boulders, and towering mountain peaks on the left side, as it winds through what appears to be older 2nd growth forest. There are some massive trees on the upper mountain slopes, apparently saved from logging by the rough terrain. Horseshoe Lake sits in a bowl surrounded by the Galleon Mountain peaks and Sorcery Mountain and should be a superb place to visit in the summer. I have several more Home Court 100 peaks to visit in this area.

Lower trail section

Lower slopes, Horseshoe Lake, and Upper Slopes

Moon over the Middle Fork–66

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