The Goat Rocks Wilderness Loops

The Goat Rocks Wilderness Loops

Looking down Klickitat Ridge from Old Snowy.

The Goat Rocks Wilderness area consist of around 108,000 acres located along the crest of Washington’s Central Cascade Mountain Range. It is here where there once stood a 12,000′ volcanic mountain that erupted some two million years ago leaving Mt. Curtis Gilbert as the highest remaining point along rugged Klickitat Ridge at 8184′. There are a series of interesting peaks between 6,000 – 8,000′ along this ridge which trends Northwest to Southeast surrounded by prominent Mt. Rainier 14,410′ and Mt. Adams 12,281′, an eroded Mt. St Helens which erupted in 1980 still stands out at 8,363′, and far to the South in Oregon Mt. Hood 11,239′ yet another volcano can be seen, and on a clear day I can see them all from the top of a near 6,900′ mountain in North Central Washington. My repeated trips to peaks of the North are probably what sparked my interest to explore further to the South. One thing leads to another and next thing you know you have a plan and then your there on and/or off trail walking in the wilderness. It can happen so quickly again and again.

The wilderness has about 120 miles of trails which stay on or near the crest including the Pacific Crest Trail which runs right through the Goat Rocks making this section (so I have read) one of the highlights of the entire PCT revealing outstanding scenery such as volcano’s, lakes, streams, waterfalls, mountain goats, the famous knife edge section along with a few remaining glaciers on the North side of Klickitat Ridge.

I  do try and plan my trips for maximum enjoyment but being on the crest the weather can be unpredictable at times so I had all the logistics planned and waited for high pressure to build firmly in place. I have waited years at a time for weather, partners, and access to come together before actually doing some trips, but eventually our first trip came together and we made it into Warm Lake via Conrad Meadows and peakbagged Mt. Curtis Gilbert, then with that trip as a sampler several years later we did a second trip peakbagging Old Snowy and Ives via Snowgrass > PCT > Goat Ridge trails , both were awesome loops, during peak wildflower season, under blue skies leaving me stunned at the terrain, scenery, and wildlife. I learned a lot about the early history and exploration of the area from my partner who had read articles and books describing former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas’s lengthy adventures before the time of most roads, trails or modern hiking, backpacking, and climbing equipment. O. Douglas a Yakima native wrote “Of Mountains and Men” and “My Wilderness : The Pacific Northwest” and was deeply moved by his experiences once stating in a  environmental case that inanimate objects should have standing in the courts.


The critical question of “standing” would be simplified and also put neatly in focus if we fashioned a federal rule that allowed environmental issues to be litigated before federal agencies or federal courts in the name of the inanimate object about to be despoiled, defaced, or invaded by roads and bulldozers and where injury is the subject of public outrage. Contemporary public concern for protecting nature’s ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation. This suit would therefore be more properly labeled as Mineral King v. Morton.

Continuing …

Inanimate objects are sometimes parties in litigation. A ship has a legal personality, a fiction found useful for maritime purposes. The corporation sole—a creature of ecclesiastical law—is an acceptable adversary and large fortunes ride on its cases …. So it should be as respects valleys, alpine meadows, rivers, lakes, estuaries, beaches, ridges, groves of trees, swampland, or even air that feels the destructive pressures of modern technology and modern life. The river, for example, is the living symbol of all the life it sustains or nourishes—fish, aquatic insects, water ouzels, otter, fisher, deer, elk, bear, and all other animals, including man, who are dependent on it or who enjoy it for its sight, its sound, or its life. The river as plaintiff speaks for the ecological unit of life that is part of it.


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