Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Wilson Peak with Soldier Cap. 4-11-14

Spring Break had come and gone for me.  I had plans to climb Dickey Peak in the Lost Rivers but we decided to cancel due to a lousy and deteriorating weather forecast.  None the less, however, I have been really itching to get out, and not just out, but onto some new ground.  Finally, the right astronomical alignment occurred when I could get away for part of the day.  My first choice was a snow climb of a bigger peak, but the weather had been unseasonably warm and I needed to be back in Boise no later than 5pm so that option was out.  "What to do, what to do..."  Warm? - Yes.  Too warm for the Owyhee front? - Nope!  I coupled that with the limited windshield time and the plan was set.  I had this hike in mind since last fall following a geology field study protect of the Western Snake River Plane (WSRP), so all in all, it fit my criteria.  I left the house at 8:30am and within just over an hour of driving, I got the first views of these peaks from Hwy 78.

Soldier Cap is the pointed peak on the left, Wilson Peak is the rounded one in the center.

As I turned off Hwy 78 onto Wilson Creek road, I was greeted by a cattle drive that we waited about 20 minuted to pass.
No matter, it gave me time to review my game plan for parking.  Without really knowing what to expect as far as condition of the road, I had figured I could drive within about 1 mile or less of the ridge that I planned to hike to the top of Wilson Peak.  But, after all, what qualifies as a road is subject to debate and often better left to foot travel.  After the cattle drive passed, I was on the way up the road that starts as pavement, transitions to good gravel and became increasingly rough after about mile 4.  Although it appeared to be not too bad, I wasn't more than half a mile from where I planned on and decided to park.  Boots on dirt at 10:30 with clear skies and light wind.
The planned route takes the center slope.  Here, the ground appears mostly flat.  That was not the case.  A series of gullies anywhere from 10 to 30 feet deep criss-cross the ground.  Not a big deal early in the day.  After all, this was the warm up section...
It wasn't long into hiking the first slope until the views started opening up.  This is looking toward Bogus Basin, in the Boise Mountains.

At about 2 miles and 1.5hrs into the day the radio tower at the top of Wilson Peak came into view.

Looking NNE form the top of Wilson.

Peak #1 of the day at about 5,300ft.

Looking at Soldier Cap from Wilson with about a 1.5 miles to cover.

Ketchum investigates lava blocks, or more likely the creatures that live in between them, on Wilson Peak.
What I presume to be remnants of an A'a lava flow. 

Some pretty cool granite lobes along the way.

Too bad there is nothing for scale.  This bird was huge!

Impressive canyon of Upper Reynold's creek.

Looking back at Wilson Peak.  Note the boulder fields and the road, which was in decent shape.  The day had warmed up but the breeze kept it cool.

After 2 hours and 4 miles we got to peak # 2 of the day, Soldier Cap at about 5,400ft.  Several carins mark the top, though none appeared to have a register.  We had been moving almost constantly since the start and the time at the top was short lived.  Like any good hiking partner would, I split my lunch of cold pizza with Ketchum, we gulped some water and headed back down.  

One last look at the Owyhee Mountains to the south.

A closer shot of Soldier Cap.  There is actually potential for class 3 scrambling, but I kept it mellow. As I usually do with the dog, I stayed on the class 2.

If this is the condition of the road, we could have driven here, right in between both peaks.  But whats the fun in that right?  After all, we're explorers!  

There is actually some pretty clean granite out there, probably unclimbed.  As long as you don't count the bird poop stains a the top...

If we had more time, I would have wondered around the boulders a bit more.  

It was non-stop full speed back to the car and we made it in 4hrs and 5min with 8.8 total miles and 1,800ft elevation gain.  However, those gullies that we didn't mind so much at the start proved to be quad burners on the way out. I did my best to skirt around them without adding too much additional distance but for the most part I followed the same path back to the car.  All in all, its a pretty clean area and I'm glad I got to explore it before it gets much warmer.  Next time, I'll come back in the fall, drive further up the road and bring the bouldering gear.

Granola out.

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