Thursday, October 24, 2019

Mount Aire, Utah

Date: October 19, 2019.

Objective: Mount Aire 8,621'.

Partners: Deez and Landen.

Stats: 4 miles with 2,000' ascent in 3:37 round trip.

Links: StravaTrail infoTrailhead info.

We were in SLC for a concert and managed to sneak up a quick peak just before a storm front came in.  It was quite busy but what else would you expect on a Saturday at a popular trailhead?  The trail was pretty muddy in a few spots but aside from a few slips and slides, it was a straight forward hike with great views from the top.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Blackmon Peak

Date: September 27, 2019.

Objective: Blackmon Peak 10,300'.

Stats: 3.5 miles with 1,500 feet of ascent in 3:46 round trip.

Difficulty: Class 2.  Moderate, short hike but high altitude.

Links: Lists of JohnStravaIdaho: A Climbing GuideSummit Post.

The Back Story

Back in 2016, Deez and I hiked into Fourth of July Lake to tag a few 10ers before I left for Mt. Rainier.  Blackmon Peak was on the list for that trip, but I ended up passing on it due to a thunderstorm coming in.  After that trip, we decided that Blackmon would make an excellent first 10k peak for Landen (or anyone really).  We eyed a couple of dates in 2017 but all were canceled; once due to lingering snow in the summer and once due to bad smoke from a wildfire in the late summer/fall.  We set out for it in 2018 only to turn down Fourth of July Creek Road to find the area closed due to the Bible Back fire.  The first attempt of 2019 ended just east of Garden Valley with a disabled vehicle and a few tears.  The next window we had required us to thread the needle due to a forecast weekend storm bringing cold temps and snow.  We excused the youngster from school to bring him along on an already scheduled trip to Sun Valley where Deez had a mid-week work conference.  The original plans for that week had also been scraped to accommodate having the kiddo along, plus needing to get in and out of the mountains quickly due to the approaching cold front.

Trip Report 

With a full day in Sun Valley, I wanted to get up a peak but didn't want to commit to anything too tough because we would be hiking Blackmon the next day.  I selected Dollar Mountain for a warm-up hike.  It left "us" with "lots of energy left" which was good.  Due to the schedule, we had a not early, but not late departure from Sun Valley.  We crossed our fingers, said a prayer to the Car Gods and headed over Galena Summit.  We arrived at the trailhead but had to sort though three bags of gear to condense into one pack.

Side note: we were still prepared to spend a night in the backcountry if the weather improved.  Since we were now doing the peak as a day hike, at least we no longer needed 90% of it.

12:45PM and we were actually putting our boots on the mountain!  I knew we had a bit of time to spare for the short hike, but I also knew the weather was going to be cold and windy up high.

Blackmon from the trailhead.

Actually at the trailhead.

Initial section of the route.

It was nice and warm down low.  The initial section of the route was a bit ambiguous.  I just kept an eye on the map and tried to follow the road-turned-trail that leads to Strawberry Basin and the saddle just west of the peak.  We payed a quick visit to one of the mines and eventually I found the trail; a great trail in fact.  Easy ground!  We came across a group of hunters who were ready to discharge their bows and politely let me know that "there were deer here just a minute ago".  Wink-wink.

Looking west toward the Sawtooths.

Low on the southwest ridge.

Weaving though the trees on the ridge.
From the trail, I picked a prominent gully and hiked up the side to gain the southwest ridge and then stopped for a rest.  The route is short and straight forward but the anticipation was high.  It wasn't long before we set off for the summit.  Probably not going to throttle back at this point.

Deez crushing it up the ridge.

Landen close to the summit and eager to top out.

Fourth of July Peak.

We had to make one more quick stop to don a layer in the cool breeze.  The summit sits just above treeline and the views were amazing.  D.O. Lee Peak sits just to the north and was impressive but the view to the east and Castle Peak was out of this world.  The combination of a skiff of fresh snow and low angle light with the crisp fall air was just fantastic.

Landen waiting for us on the summit.

Castle Peak in the background.

USGS marker.

D.O. Lee Peak.

Landens first 10k summit!

It would all be for naught without plenty of time on the summit, so we layered up with what we had and got our gawk on.  There had been a few twists and turns to get this summit and I was sure to thank the Mountain Gods for allowing us to set foot here.

Mount Frank and Lonesome Peak over Ants Basin.

That summit selfie.


Eventually it was time to head down and it wasn't long until we had to doff our layers.  We took the same route down, which wasn't the most exciting, but it was easy to follow.

Looking down the southwest ridge.

Hiking down.

It didn't happen the way we planned but Landed got his first 10k summit.  We made good time on the descent and soon found ourselves back at the mines.  Watch your step around there!  We gave one more round of thanks to the mountain and made sure to pay respect to the Car Gods as well.  The rest of our quest was smiled upon and soon we were in Stanley for dinner.  The ensuing cold front left a few inches of snow in the high mountains so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the rest of autumn shapes up.

Dollar Mountain

Date: September 26, 2019.

Objective: Dollar Mountain 6,638'.

Stats: 2 miles with 700 feet of ascent in 1:13 round trip.

Difficulty: Class 1.  Easy, short hike.

Links: Lists of JohnStrava.

We had to move some plans around after a vehicle failure last week while enroute to the White Clouds that foiled yet anther stab at actually getting our boots on, not to mention trying to get Landen up Blackmon Peak.  Long story made moderately short, we took him with us up to Sun Valley where Deez had a work conference going on.  There were other plans made for this week, but due to the weather closing in, those got tossed to the side.

So there we were with a full day in Sun Valley with nothing to do.  Other than snag a warm-up peak of course!  I chose Dollar Mountain due to the fact that it is actually in town, looked to be very easy and could offer up some good views despite not being very tall.

Dollar Mountain from the parking lot.

We started from the ski lodge at the base and followed a gravel trail along a ski lift.

Start of the trail.

Sun Valley.

The trail we followed was steep in a couple places but really quite easy.

The southern edge of the Boulder Mountains.


It didn't take long to make our way to the highpoint and soon we were enjoying the views of Bald Mountain, the southern Boulder Mountains, and Johnstone Peak.

Bald Mountain.

Johnstone Peak.

Looking south down the Wood River Valley.


After a snack and a little time on top, we followed the same route back to the car.  Moving on to bigger things!

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Soldier Mountains Traverse

Date: August 17, 2019.

Objectives: "North Smoky Dome", Smoky Dome, Peak 9666 aka "3rd Peak".

Stats: 13.8 miles with 4,800 feet of ascent.

Links: StravaIdaho: A Climbing Guide.  Summit Post.

A tough day for such short mileage but was actually easier/shorter than expected.  While I did take this on as a run, the terrain was very un-run-able other than the trail used for the approach and escape.  This route was mostly off trail though some thick forest with downfall and underbrush, as well as talus up to class 3 and a good chunk of bushwhacking.  If you're looking for an "easy" three peak day, this is not it.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Eagle Cap

Objective: Eagle Cap 9,572'.

Date: August 5-7, 2019.

Partners: Deez, dozens of other people and thousands of mosquitoes.

Links: StravaSummit PostTerminal Gravity Brewing in Enterprise, Oregon.

You climb a bunch of mountains and nobody really cares, but you make one wrong turn and you'll never live it down.  We still got the peak and still had a great trip despite my ineptitude adding about 4 miles and 1,000 feet of vert.

The original plan was an out-and-back route that had us staying at Mirror Lake for two nights and summiting Eagle Cap on day 2.  The improvised plan called for a loop with one night at Minam Lake and one night at Mirror Lake.  Minam Lake was awesome but busy and the bugs weren't bad.  Mirror Lake was C-R-A-Z-Y busy, people everywhere and the bugs were awful (kind of expected).  Camp sites were not great and offered little shade.  Terminal Gravity Brewing was awesome for post hike nourishment .

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Slogging Around The Sawtooth's

Date: July 27, 2019.

Objective: Peak 9150.

Links: Strava.

Fun scale rating: Borderline type III.

I was planning for a long run in the Sawtooth's and decided to make an attempt on this peak after I noticed it was unclaimed on Lists of John.  Yes, I understand that unclaimed does not necessarily mean unclimbed.  The most efficient approach would be from the Redfish lake side via Alpine Lake. The whole point of mountain running is to go have an adventure and this day didn't disappoint.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Alpine Peak

Date: July 13, 2019.

Objective: Alpine Peak - 9,861'.

Partners: Solo.

Notes: Iron Creek Trailhead is one of the busiest in the Sawtooth Range. Choosing a weekend will not offer solitude, but don't let that stop you from visiting.

Links: Strava.