Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Tripod Peak and Granite Peak

We ventured into the West Mountains for the first time on a nice out and back hike with the added bonus of Granite Peak.

Date: August 28, 2016.

Partners: Deez, Landen the Lego Master and Ketchum.

Peaks and stats: Tripod Peak 8,082ft. Granite Peak 8,273. 6.5 miles round trip with 800 feet of gain.

Links: Tripod Peak and Granite Peak on Idaho: A Climbing Guide. Tripod Peak on SummitpostTripod Peak Lists of John DataGranite Peak Lists of John Data.

Access and route: Drive north on Hwy 55 towards Smiths Ferry. 9.7 miles past Smiths Ferry and just before Clear Creek Station, turn west (left) on Cabarton Road and cross the river. Turn west (left) on Snowbank Mountain Road and drive 11 miles to the obvious saddle and large parking area on the left side of the road. The trail to Tripod starts at the end of the parking area. Follow the dusty single track trail south from there. Granite Peak is on the opposite side of the road. Snowbank Mountain Road is gravel, washboard and steep but passable by a standard passenger car. Drive time just under 2 hours from Eagle, ID.

Tripod Peak from the trail.
We set out from the trailhead about 10am with a cool breeze blowing across the ridge. Heading south on the trail to Tripod Peak was dusty with a few ups and downs, but not hard. Putting the youngster up front to set the pace with a bit of prodding from the parental units made for slow progress at times, but that's the name of the game with the kiddies.

The trail follows the ridge above Blue Lake that looks quite nice and would make for an even shorter and easier hike with the option to camp.

Looking southeast, across Round Valley.
The temperature rose as expected and the breeze stuck around which kept the bugs at bay.

Pause for smiles on the trail.
 Aside from a few hills the trail is fairly flat, doesn't gain much and is kid friendly.

Haze from the fire was pretty thick to the east but the view west to the Wallowas and Seven Devils was clear.

Blue Lake.
 Blue Lake looks like a real nice spot.

Halfway point.
The wild flowers were still hanging on while the yellow sage blossoms were just coming out. A sure sign that fall is just around the corner.

Upper slopes to the lookout.
As we neared the base of the peak, we left the trail and found a route up the southwest slopes up to the lookout.

Looking northwest.
The lookout was staffed and the on duty ranger was very friendly. Deez and Landen got to go inside and check out the digs. The ranger was packing up his stuff and was waiting for the smoke to clear for the helicopter to fly out of Garden Valley to pick him up.

Deez and Landen on the lookout.


Summit view.
Since Tripod Peak is a fire lookout, the view is quite expansive.

Selfie at the lookout.
At 8,082 feet, the youngest member of our merry band of misfits set his PR for his highest summit yet. Pretty good for a kiddo who just spent most of his summer at or below sea level in no man's land, otherwise known as Florida.

Tripod Lookout.

Looking south.
After chatting with the ranger and a fellow hiker, we had a nice lunch at the lookout before setting off.

Helicopter approaching the LZ.
 As we crested the hill about half way back, we saw the helicopter flying in.

Viewpoint near the trailhead.
The are a few rocky outcrops along the ridge that make great viewpoints.

Smoke plume.
 We took note of the substantial smoke plume rising from the Pioneer fire.

Snowbank Mountain.
Back at the car, I automatically took my boots off and then realized I still wanted to get Granite Peak, so I walked the 60 feet up to the summit in flip-flops. There is a good view of Snowbank Mountain, the range highpoint. That summit has an array of FAA radar equipment on top.

View from Granite Peak.
It was a fine day exploring a new area that deserves more of my attention; without a doubt.

Happy trails!

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