Tony Grove to Steam Mill, 5 August, 2018
Three intrepid hikers volunteered for the back-of-Gog exploratory hike: Laurel, Dave W, and Dave P (initiator). All three were leaders because it took everyone to follow the route, with help from GPS.
The day was calm and sunny but with considerable smoke from distant wildfires that obscured the views. After dropping a car at the Steam Mill trailhead we drove up to Tony Grove and started hiking about 9:25. The White Pine trail still had many wildflowers even though it had been very dry and some fields were brown. We observed a bull moose feeding near some willows about 100 ft from the trail. It was very calm and kept on eating while we talked.
We stopped at White Pine Lake to fuel up for the climb and so Dave W could remove a confusing sign to a restroom that no longer exists. Above the old restroom we found a path leading up above most of the talus slope. It was like climbing 1000 stair-steps, but we finally reached the rim of the cirque basin northeast of Naomi. A short climb to the northwest brought us to the pass between the White PIne Lake cirque and the cirque north of Mount Gog. After lunch in the shade of a limber pine we found a good horse trail leading from the pass down into the Gog cirque, which is a beautiful open valley with springs and patches of bare rock. We followed the horse trail down and out of the cirque where it dispersed in the meadows east of Mount Gog.
We walked across the meadow to intersect the old Double Top trail. At that point we thought it would be an easy walk out (the trail is on the map and it heads in a straight line north of the creek), but we kept losing it. It is so seldom used that vegetation obscures the faint trail. When we got to Shorty’s Cutoff where we originally planned to cross over to Steam Mill trail, we decided it would be easier to follow the White Pine trail out to the car. After Laurel found a log over White Pine Creek we crossed over without soaking a boot and hiked out. The lower elevation fields of mule ears were dry and brown. There was less water in the lower crossing of White Pine creek than in two large springs along the trail farther north. Two spotted deer fawns crossed the trail in front of us as we neared the end of our hike.
We got back to our "shuttle" car at Steam Mill Trailhead about 5, went to Tony Grove to pick up our other car and returned to Logan about 6.
Thanks to Dave P. for the narrative and Dave W. for photos and the GPS data .