Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Garden Benchmark. May 24th, 2015.

Partners: Ketchum.

Stats: >14 miles. >5,000 feet elevation gain. Summit elevation 7,005 feet. Time to summit, 5 hours. 7:45 round trip.

Route: Parked at the South fork bridge on the Banks-Lowman highway, hiked the ridge to peak 3668. Continued the ridge to an unnamed road, followed the road to the summit.

Garden Benchmark on Lists of John. Peak 3668 on Lists of John. Splattski's Trip Report.

Gear notes: Standard day hiking kit.

View of the upper ridge to a false summit.

Garden Peak, or Garden Benchmark, as it is listed, is a relatively small peak in terms of its summit elevation of 7,005 feet.  The route that I took does put up big mountain stats and has a big mountain feel while hiking the ridge that sits between the south and middle forks of the Payette river.

I've been wanting to get out to the greater ranges, you know, climb a real mountain, but with the recent wild weather and loads of precipitation in the mountains, I felt it was probably a better idea to keep it low and close to home.  I still wanted the burly workout that comes with climbing big mountains, but I did not want to drive 3 hours to hike in the rain.

Banks is a 30 minute drive from my door step, so I had no reason to not pack my A game and give it a go.  The dog and I were parked at the bridge just a bit past 8am and were soon working up the steep hill side towards peak 3668 with mild temps, a light wind and a 30% chance of thunderstorms later in the day.

Looking over Banks and the south fork bridge parking area.

If you just wanted to get to Garden Benchmark, there are surely shorter ways.  One thing that drew me to this particular route is that it is a long ridge walk and was sure to provide great views the whole way.  It steeply gains elevation and right from the start the views are incredible.

Looking toward Peak 3668.

Peak 3668 is not far from the road, but due to the high mileage day that lay ahead, the standard slow-steady pace was mandatory.

The first views of the upper ridge are sobering.

After cresting the first peak, the upper ridge came into view.  It has a few significant up's and down's, and the end looked to be a long ways away.

Green grass and wild flowers.

Thanks to the recent heavy rain, the slopes were green and the wild flowers were blooming.  Not a bad day to be out!

Looking up the south fork of the Payette River.

The next two significant points along the ridge required some light scrambling, but I bypassed them because my dog likes to follow and sometimes he slips and almost takes me out.  He's a great partner, but kind of a sloppy scrambler.

Looking southwest, toward the start of the ridge.

After about 2 hours of hiking, I stopped for a short break in an area where the ridge is fairly mellow. While walking along the flat section, I heard a noise that I don't think I've actually heard in person before, but I knew exactly what it was.  Mr. Rattlesnake was letting us know that we were in his way, but he waited to do so until I dang near stepped on him.

The first Rattlesnake I've seen.

I was able to wrangle Ketchum and we backed well away.  I reviewed Rattlesnake bite protocol, which is pretty much just don't get bit, and we left Mr. Rattlesnake to do his Rattlesnake stuff.

Sorry to have disturbed you!

Looking at the top of the ridge.

Toward the top of the ridge is the steepest part and obviously reveals the best views.

View looking down the ridge.

Grazing sheep along the route.

There were sheep grazing on the upper slopes and I met a Peruvian Shepherd named Pablo; he's a nice guy.  It was from about here that an unnamed road heads toward the small saddle seen in the photo above.  Form the saddle, I knew that I could follow the road to the summit, or I could bushwhack across Eddy Creek for what seemed to be a shortcut.  I figured that running/hiking along the road would be quicker than the bushwhack, so that's what I did.  I was over 4 miles in at this point.

Garden Peak finally in view.

From that saddle, I also got my first legit view of the peak.  It appears rather unimpressive after such an awesome hike up the ridge.

Sign indicating Garden Saddle.

Keeping to the road was easy going and I was able to make good time.  Naturally, the last of the gain came at the end of the road.

View from Garden Benchmark.

After about 5 hours from leaving the car, we found the summit and the USGS benchmark.

Somehow, I found time to take a summit selfie while shoving food in my mouth. 
USGS marker.

Shaffer Butte.

After a short time exploring the immediate area, snapping some pictures and having lunch, I was ready to toss out my short foam pad and jacket and relax for a few.  Maybe even take a short nap.  No sooner had I finished eating and getting affairs in order for a chillax session, had I looked up to notice the could's now appeared to be rapidly growing and the wind had picked up.


Seriously, I just wanted to chill for a few.  Fair well Garden Peak, for we hardly knew ye... 

Knowing that this was likely the beginning of thunderstorms, I decided to pack up and head out.  If I still had some time before any lighting started, I wanted to be down off of the exposed upper slopes of the ridge.

Ketchum trotting along the road with Squaw Butte in the distance. 

After nearly 5 hours of continuous work, having my summit break cut short was a little disheartening. I was beginning to feel the wear and tear of the hike and there was a brief moment when I thought I might have gone a little too far and should just find a nice sheltered spot and hang for a few.  After I was already up and going, I fell back into my pace and just kept cruising back down the road to the saddle that holds the passage to the ridge.

View of the ridge taken below the corridor.

On the way out, I got about 5 minutes of hail and some intermittent sprinkles, but never did get any lightning or hear thunder.  Looking back down the ridge, I decided to cut off to the south about half way down, near the Rattlesnake sighting and walk the road instead of hauling up and over the high points on the ridge again.

Looking south over the river canyon.

That wasn't a terrible idea but the long down hill section was the hardest part of the day, then uneventful and boring along the road.  I was surprised that such a small peak so close to home could kick out stats that rival the bigger peaks, other than the summit elevation.  It's easy to say that this was one of the greater tests of endurance I've had in a while.  This hike was more about the physical and mental test and less about the peak itself.  I would also have to say that the spiritual and philosophical enlightenment that comes from great amounts of physical exertion is always worth it, no matter what the chosen medium may be.

Now, who wants to go climb some 12ers?

Happy trails!

- Granola, out.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Peak 4602 5-18-2015

Partners: Dog.

Stats: Distance 5.27 miles. Elevation Gain approx 2,000ft. Total time 2:30.

Route: From Highway 55 scenic overlook to pt 4114, to pt 4430, to Peak 4602 and a side trip to pt 4304. Topo Map Peak 4602 on Lists of John

Gear notes: Ended up bringing three jackets despite packing "light".

Peak 4602.

I've been looking at some peaks off of Hwy 55 since it is so close to my house and I haven't explored the area.  Peak 4602 caught my eye for this short trip because it sits on a long ridge that I decided to walk since it was sure to provide a great view of Horseshoe Bend.  It looks like Mark Jones made the first ascent of this peak on his list of peaks within one hour of Boise, at some point.  Peak 4602 sits on BLM land so I figured access shouldn't be too tough.

Dog and I hit the road about 10am and were parked at the scenic overlook on Hwy 55 about 15 minutes later.  Cloudy, fairly humid, temp 57F with light wind and an occasional rain drop.  The first goal was to run across Hwy 55 to get on route.  That in itself is a terrifying experience.

Mores Mountain on the left, Shaffer Butte on the right. 

Once across the highway, my route followed the steep hill side to point 4114 where we had to duck under a fence on BLM land.  Once past there I was treated to a fine view of near by Shaffer Butte and Mores Mountain.  Turing to the east to gain the next point brought up another fence we had to duck.

Approaching Peak 4602 along the ridge.

From point 4430, there is an old road that leads directly to peak 4602, so naturally, that's the way I went.

The actual summit of Peak 4602.

Once I was on top of what I thought was peak 4602, I realized that wasn't the highest point, so I headed a little farther to the east.  Once there, I found this bump on the ridge was about ten feet higher than the other little bump.  The odd thing is that the USGS map clearly identifies the elevation as 4602, but my altimeter, which was calibrated, read 4580 and the GPS on my phone indicated 4590 - somthingish. Hhmmm...  The other odd thing was that the GPS compass went all weird and wasn't indicating the correct heading.  I concluded these anomaly's are due to the large flat area of the summit actually being a UFO landing site used by Grey Aliens that probably come from Zeta Reticuli.  No actual science was done regarding this conclusion, its just a blind guess.

Ketchum on the flat summit.  Squaw Butte is in the background.

I was certain of where I was, but not certain why the elevations did not check.  Oh well...

A slightly confused summit photo.

Then it was on to point 4303 to finish off the whole ridge.  There is a big dip and the hike is steep on both sides, which made for a good time to run in boots with a pack on.

Point 4303 on the far end of the ridge.

The view over Horseshoe Bend was totally worth the effort to get there.

Horseshoe Bend from point 4303

From pt 4303, I simply reversed my steps, bypassing pt 4430 on the way back to the car.
This was a great opportunity to explore a different part of the foothills and it turned out to be a good workout as well.  In the end, I got in another lame-local peak, safely made two crossings of Hwy 55 and avoided alien abduction.  The next ascent party may not be so lucky.

Happy Trails!

- Granola, out.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Teapot Dome 5-03-2015

Partners: Deez and Landen (AKA Lego Master).

Stats: 3.5 miles. Total time, 3hrs. Elevation gain approx 1,000ft. Summit: 4,713.  Route: Hiked from the west end of the lower south ridge to the south slope and headed east to the summit.

Gear notes: N/A.

Dan Robbins' TR.   Lists of John data.

Teapot Dome.

Teapot dome is a small peak that consists mostly of igneous rocks and is oriented along an east to west trending ridge line.  It sits just off the Sun Valley Highway and is only a few miles north of Mountain Home.  I was actually saving this peak for some time while driving home from the greater ranges of Idaho, since I'd already be right there.  The summit can be attained via a very short walk from Teapot road and that in itself does not prompt a drive.  However, while looking over the map, I noticed 2 other peaks in the vicinity, so that was game on.

We left town a tad bit on the late side to make a real effort to hit all three peaks, but at least we would still have time to hike Teapot Dome. Heck, at least we weren't sitting at home, and I've been told that this hiking stuff is actually good for you.  The day was forecast to be fairly warm and it certainly was when we parked a little after 1pm.  We parked along the road at the western end of the peak to add some distance and extra ground to explore.

Short scrambles to be had along the way.

We found some neat outcrops to scramble over.

The true summit sits behind the high point seen here.

We followed the ridge line to the east, toward the actual peak, then turned north heading up a south facing gully.

The south gully.

The gully was steep but really not that bad.  It was warmer than we would have liked, but at least we were out.

Just shy of the summit ridge, the energy of the group was attenuating, so we stopped for a decent water break before the final push.

Summit of Teapot Dome.
From the break area, we turned our toes to the east and kept at it.
After another half mile or so, we crept up to the flat area that is the summit.

Summit cairn of Teapot Dome.
The sky was hazy and that left the view over the Snake River Plain rather limited.

Summit shot with Bennett Mountain in the background.

After signing the register and a quick summit selfie, we headed back to rejoin Denise.  After one more short break we made like sheep herder's and got the flock out of there.  The lack of shade made the upper 70 degree temps feel much warmer than that.  We made it back to the car and headed into town to sweeten the deal by grabbing a milk shake for the youngest explorer of the group.

Southern slopes of Teapot Dome.
One can save significant time and effort by driving farther down the road and hiking a more direct route to the top.  We made it harder on ourselves just for the LOL's and to offset the windshield time required to get there.

And that's a wrap sports fans!

Happy trails!

- Granola, out.