Goat Mountain, State Peak
By: Ron Jones, Maris Valkass
There were three persons waiting for Maris and myself at Cedar Grove on Friday morning. We toiled up the 8 mile trail to Grouse Lake gaining 5,400'. With a 3-day backpack, I was exhausted! After spending 30 minutes setting up camp and taking a little nutrition, four of us started out for Goat Mtn., another 1,800' above. We climbed it via the south ridge and enroute I knew why I had led it from the northwest 16 years before. The south ridge has a lot of high class 2 and some low class 3 whereas the northwest route is easy class 2 and a little shorter. Anyway, we made it to the top late in the afternoon and returned to camp by the easier route, arriving at Grouse Lake after dark. Views from the top include the Mt. Brewer group of peaks, the Kaweah group, the State-Marion group and many other fine peaks more distant.
The next day we picked up our packs and, instead of returning the mile cross-country to the Granite Pass trail, we took a route which cuts off about 7 miles on trail by traveling in pleasant class 2 terrain and, gaining only an additional 750' of elevation. This is THE way to go to State Peak either directly from Cedar Glove or from Goat Peak.
We worked around the west end of Grouse Lake and climbed easily north to the low saddle northeast of peak 11,354' (on the Marion Peak 15' quad). Then we hiked 1.5 miles north through a meadow covered valley and up 400 easy feet to the saddle lying between peaks 11,707' and 12,059' on the Goat Crest. This gentle, saddle near the junction of the Monarch Divide, Goat Crest and Cirque Crest marks the watershed boundary separating the South and Middle forks of the Kings River.
The north side of the saddle has a bit of steep class 2 at the top (stay to the left) followed by grassy ramps leading to the Glacier Lakes. We hiked about 2.5 miles down Glacier Valley to near its intersection with the State Lakes trail. There is a superb camp site just below 10,000' nestled among rocks and trees on the west side of the use trail. Here wood fires are legal as they are not at the State Lakes. We arrived before noon.
After lunch we started out for State Peak and the 5 of us made an uneventful climb via the west and the southwest ridges. We were back at our camp in time for a nice afternoon and evening rest.
The third day we made the long backpack out, arriving at our cars by mid-afternoon and home by about 10 PM. Thanks to Maris Valkass for a fine assist and it was good to see Jim Hinkley out climbing in his inimitable style after taking 1.5 years off to get his MFA degree at the Otis Art Institute.
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