Alternative hiking route to Mt. Gass. Maps and photos of Sept. 17 and Oct. 9, 2020

In the post about my last April 6 (ski/snowshoe) trip onto Mt. Gass I have suggested a most gradual (easiest) hiking trail to the top of Mt. Gas - it is the purple dotted route in the first two images of that post. I got there again to check it out on Sep. 17, still while weather was warm enough (to hike all the way to the top in a T-shirt). On a day with relatively little smoke during those two weeks or so, when this area was blanketed with variably thick smoke from the California forest fires. The visibility from the top was not great, but I managed to confirm that this is really an easy route to hike, and found a good summer trailhead for it. Between the trailhead and the tree line it almost felt like an easy walk in the woods, albeit steeper toward the end.

I returned there on Oct. 9, and cleared and flagged the beginning of this route, and took a few more photos, and also recorded my cycling to and from the trailhead - see the videos No. 8 and 9 here. Clicking on maps and photos opens a window with their full size version

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map On these maps my hiking route is denoted by an orange line with dots indicating my positions on Sep. 17 at 5 minute intervals (when going up). The cycling portion of the route is plotted in blue on the last two maps. The trailhead is just before a newly placed barrier barring the access to the recently deactivated system of the old logging roads. This barrier was moved somewhat forward between my two trips. The spot denoted by OP (Old Parking area) with a bunch of my positions is where I left the bike on Sept. 17. On Oct. 9 it was behind the barrier, all ploughed over, inaccessible. From the trailhead the trail goes at first sharp up from the logging road onto what looks like a narrow human-made horizontal terrace (plotted in the 3rd map, on the left, as darker orange dotted line with question marks at both ends, as its original continuation is not clear). It was overgrown, but I could clear it somewhat when I returned there in October (see photos at the end). The trail then turns left onto this terrace, and when the terrace "dissolves" in the vegetation it turns slowly right toward the boundary between the new and old growth forest.
It then continues left along this boundary map until it reaches an old loading area at a sharp bent of an old road (now ploughed over). At the end of this clearing the trails enters a little opening into the forest on the right, which is the start of clearly discernible animal trail network that will lead you all the way above the tree line. I have flagged the trail from the trailhead up to this opening (marked in my maps as EF - End of Flagging). There is no real need for flagging after that. Where the animal trails are branching, just keep to the right, as best as possible on the edge of the ridge, from where one should get occasional peeks or views of the Mt. Lyall slopes through the trees on the right. To the left of the correct trail there is lots of deadfall all the way up.
The distance from the parking lot on the Fording Mine Road to the trailhead is about exactly 6 km, the vertical elevation gain on this cycling part of the trip is 340 m. The trailhead is at 1890 m a.s.l. The length of the hiking trail from there to the Mt. Gass 2nd summit is 3.1 km, with the elevation gain of another 975 m. (Going up, the cycling part took me 1h 15 min, and the hiking one 3h 25 min, not counting a lunch stop. So my vertical speed was about the same throughout the whole trip - 272 vm/h vs 285 vm/h! Going down, my cycling descent was much faster, 582 vm/h, than hiking, 390 vm/h; vm = vertical meters.)
In the winter one can shorten the total skiing distance from the parking lot by using the shortcut route added (as a white line) to a subset of the 2nd map on the left. This shortcut starts along the boundary of the new growth pine forest on the left, and a more recent clearcut below it. The elevation gain along this white line is about 100 m. The true most gradual route in this area lies along the purple dotted line, but this leads through a rather dense young pine forest difficult to ski or hike through.
 
Now a few photos from both days: Starting at the EF location, with the views of the road now ploughed over (on which I was skiing from there up - in the right photo - in April):
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Following by two views from the animal trails:
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When one finally gets through the forest, the first view is that of a pile of boulders! But after taking a few steps to the left, the summit of Mt. Gass is soon visible over a rather extensive filed of smaller boulders. It was a surprise for me because under the snow this area looked in the winter like a very smooth dome:
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But the boulders are very stable, and it was easy to hike over them directly to the top of Mt. Gass. The advantage is that one can keep one's soles in horizontal position when walking over the boulders. At least for me (I like walking on boulders) it was much easier then going up the steep slippery grass chute leading up to Mt Wapiti:
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View of Mt. Lyall and the top of Mt. Gass from much higher up:
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Finally on the top: Views of both summits of Mt. Gass from each other:
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Two more views from the 2nd summit (obscured by the forest fire smoke): of Mt. Lyall, and of the ridge going north from the 1st summit:
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In the end a few more photos from the clearing/flagging of the beginning of this trail on Oct. 9:
Starting with the views from the trailhead up the beginning of the trail (left photo), and towards the new barrier. The goal - Mt. Gass summit is well visible from there:
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The narrow "terrace" at its various places and stages of some basic clearing:
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From the section of the trail along the boundary between the new and old growth forest (looking back in the left photo, and zooming onto the Mt. Gass summit between tree branches in the right-hand photo):
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At the EF place. In the 3rd photo on the right is the entrance to those animal trails:
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Last view up the now cloudless summit of Mt. Gass, before cycling back home from the trailhead:
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