I explored most of the lower area and reached the "best" viewpoint partway up the mountain last time before I needed to turn around due to time constraints. Since I never reached the top, I marked Wygant off my checklist as "unfinished business".
Time to finish that business. Keeley was doing a coding thing on Saturday. It was me vs the Mountain. Time to bag the peak.
Got a late start, spent too long trying to decide what to do on the cold, cloudy day. Do I do the Elevator Shaft? Not a far drive, no poison pak in December, but probably not real safe when things are wet. Do I do Nick Eaton ridge, and mark off some trails for my map? Nah, the clouds would block any views at Indian Point, and I might not be in good enough shape to tackle Nick Eaton in a reasonable time. So I settled on Wygant, which is listed at a medium length and height (8 miles, 1,200 feet elevation gain)
I think both of those stats are low because the people who wrote them don't actually hike the mountain enough to get accurate measurements. The thing I kept saying on the hike, to myself, was "This is more mountain than I expected". I ended up walking close to 10 miles and almost guarantee I climbed more than 1200 feet. Wygant is 2200 feet high, and most of that you climb. I'd wager somewhere around 2000 feet.
It didn't take me long to get back to the turn around point from the last excursion, since I wasn't spending much time meandering looking for picture opportunities and I was cold so I just powered up as fast as I could go reasonably.
The bridge is even more wrecked now. It was 3 pieces last year, now only 1 piece remains and the rest has been washed further downstream and upturned into shreds. The trail itself though, felt better. It's still a mess, with tons of trees over top of it that require careful steps (At least 20 blowdowns on the whole trail altogether). When I reached the upper viewpoint spur it felt easier somehow though. The trail is not great, but it's not terrible. There are a few dicey spots as the trail climbs the north west flank, which is a steep ass hill the trail slowly switchbacks up.
|All that's left of the bridge over Perham creek now.|
Switchbacks are the name of the game here. Wygant has no mercy for switchback haters, When I reached the upper viewpoint and officially entered new territory, I knew I had like...6 left according to google maps and most other maps.
Turns out most maps just kind of lie and drew inaccurate squiggles to the peak, because there are at minimum 13 switchbacks from the upper viewpoint to the top. The trail keeps switchbacking up the north flank for a while, giving occasional views to the west. Then the trail starts to level out, and the end feels near. NOPE. After cresting a ridge, you see plenty more ridge to climb. So climb it, you heathen. More mountain than expected.
|Seen from the lower viewpoint on the way up|
|The upper viewpoint|
After cresting that hill, it feels like the top. NOPE. The top is actually 5 minutes and 50 more feet of climbing to your west along the summit ridge. Wygant is a tease.
The Summit is an unremarkable lump with a pile of rocks and no views. Thankfully, having done my research, I knew about the supposed "meadow" on the west flank 200 yards past the summit. I trudged back down hill following the ridge and sure enough, a viewpoint that was actually kind of nice. I stayed long enough to snap a few quick photos then quickly shuffled back into the woods because the cold wind was ripping at my very soul.
|the view from the meadow|
|The thrilling summit of Wygant peak|
Then it was back the same way, which got dull because the trail is just treacherous enough that you have to pay attention to each step and you can't just fart down on autopilot like you can on better built, more popular trails.
Because of the cold winds I never actually took a break longer than a minute for 9 goddamn miles of walking and 2000 feet of climbing/unclimbing. I was worn out by the end. I never saw another person the entire time, and despite it's problems, Wygant has a solitary charm to it that can only come with unpopular trails.
I have one more reason to come back here sometime this winter/spring: The Chetwood loop (An alt route halfway up Wygant) is completely toast after neglect, but there is a powerline road accessible from the beginning of it, and that powerline road should go all the way to Mitchell point, offering a Mitchell loop option that I think is worth checking out. It might not exist, but I'd like to make sure.