Stats: Class 2. 7.62 miles round trip. Total time 4:50. Elevation gain approx 2,000ft to summit 5,122.
Gear notes: Probably should have packed heat and worn some kevlar.
Links: Idaho: A Climbing Guide Bald Mountain Page. Idaho Alpine Zone TR. Splattski TR. Bald Mountain on Lists of John.
|Bald Mountain from point 4220.|
Bald Mountain is just off the Banks to lowman highway and provides a very enjoyable hike only 45 minutes from our part of town. With the weather finally cooling off, we decided to set out and attempt to slay this local peak. We parked at the Ranger Station just east of Garden Valley and hiked up the Station Creek trail. This trail is not marked on the map, but it is there and easy to follow.
|Station Creek Trail.|
Its a popular hike so we weren't surprised to see a few others on the trail. It's a moderate climb out of the valley, but we enjoyed the cool morning and the hiking was pleasant.
Station Creek has a dendritic drainage pattern and that drainage divide is hiked around while following the trail. Its a round-about way to the peak but the ridge does have a fantastic view of the valley.
|Deez heading up the trail.|
For the most part, the trail is shaded, so that's always a plus when the day starts heating up. After about 2.5 miles, we got our initial view of Bald Mountain through the trees. It looks close, but the ridge does go around the drainage and there is some backtracking involved.
|The first glimpse of the peak from the trail.|
We could hear the distant sound of rounds popping off at the shooting range near by as we continued on our way towards the peak.
|En route to point 4220.|
We made good time up to point 4220 where we got a real nice view of Garden Valley and Crouch.
There is also the first legit view of Bald Mountain.
There is some up and down involved on the trail and we did contemplate an off-trail shortcut, but we figured that it was just more up and down, and not beneficial enough to attempt. There is no quality control needed here; this is a fine trail.
No need to hurry, just enjoy the hike!
|A quarter mile and 300 feet to go.|
We were curious if the trail actually went all the way to the summit. As we got closer, it appeared that if it didn't, it was very close. The path goes through the trees and up the right hand ridge. I would recommend to meander up through the trees to save a short distance and stay in the shade.
There were still a few wildflowers out, which is always a plus.
|Deez hiking up the last few feet to the false summit.|
Once past the trees, the trail does die out, but the route is obvious; just go up.
|Looking at the true summit.|
From the false summit, it is only a short walk to the true summit. Gotta hit the high point!
|Ketchum on the summit of Bald Mountain.|
Ketchum usually likes to top out first and we don't mind. We figure he's just leading the pack.
I took a short video as we topped out on this island in the sky.
|USGS Poorman marker.|
The USGS Poorman marker ensured that were on the correct summit, although there was no elevation indicated on it.
After our glory shot, it was time to have lunch and soak in the panoramic view.
|An interesting rock cairn on the summit.|
|Walking the trail on the return.|
These granite slabs are a cool feature to enjoy on the ridge between point 4220 and Bald Mountain.
|Heading down, just past point 4220.|
We walked past point 4220 and discussed what sounded good for dinner.
Well, cheeseburgers are pretty much a mandatory post hike meal, so...
Not long after that, we didn't really know what was happening, but we were scared.
Here's the short version:
We heard gunshots, very loud and very close. I yelled HIKERS! several times as loud as I could. Apparently, the correct response from Elmer Fudd was to crack off a shot every time I yelled.
We basically walked into some crazy people with guns who had set up their own shooting range.
I was pissed. I still am. Who, in their right mind, would ever think that was a safe place for target practice. They were bustin' caps in a shallow ravine where the trail makes a U turn from one side to the other. Basically shooting at a log about 50 feet below the trail on the other side. Yes; I know its National Forest and people can carry guns, but seriously, W-T-F. We finally received a "we see you, you're clear" so we walked past the group of about 20. These people gave off a very weird vibe. I'm going with crazy anti-government survivalist cult. We hadn't even made it past them before they started peeling caps again. Dog was on the leash, but pretty freaked out to say the least. We were freaked too. Who wouldn't be?
We were beside ourselves after this incident. I really wished the ranger station had been open to report this but, alas, it was a federal holiday and there were no rangers on staff. At the end of the day we were just glad we didn't have any kids with us and that no one got hurt. I feel that this group was not exercising caution and that our situation was highly unsafe.
I don't mind people carrying guns. It's not guns that I have a problem with; its people who have no concept of other people that I have a problem with. I've dealt with bad weather, lightning, sketchy snow conditions, rock fall and this is not even the first time I've encountered crazy people with guns. This was probably the scariest moment I've had while hiking. I sure don't want to think that this is normal behavior or beginning to lead to a loss of peoples desire to get out here. This is a recreational trail, not a shooting range. I'd like to wave a big middle finger to those crazy's. They're nuttier than squirrel turds.
I'm not about to become some tragic accident!
This local peak earns an A+ in my book. Its easy to get to, the trail is good with the option to go off trail if desired and the peak itself is very, very cool. Don't let the Fudds discourage you from attempting this peak. I would recommend a very bright orange shirt though.
The only other thing we learned on this trip, is that when gunshots are so close they make you jump and duck, they're too close.