Sunday, June 23, 2013

Norton Peak

Our first trip into the Smoky Mountains and Denise gets her first peak above 10k. This was one of my all time favorite trips.

Objective: Norton Peak 10,336ft.

Date: June 21-22, 2013.

Partners: Deez and Ketchum.

Stats: Class 2. 7 miles and 3,000ft gain round trip.


Trail head.

Deez had basically progressed to pro-level backpacking skills, so now we had to add a big fun peak to her resume. We decided to do Norton Peak as an overnight trip to add some flare even though it can be done in a day.

Bridge over Norton Creek.

We headed up the trail to Norton Lake to set up camp.

Turning onto Norton Lake Trail

Creek crossing.


The trail sure felt more steep than any website had indicated.


Lower Norton Lake with Prairie Creek Peak above.

We got to the lower lake which is a fine lake, but decided to continue to the upper most lake that isn't much farther.

Lower lake.

Trail to the upper lake.

Upper Norton Lake.

As it would turn out, the upper lake is where its at. We snagged up the big camp site at the close end of the lake.


After we set up camp, we took a stroll around the lake. There were lots of fish just under the surface that were driving Dog nuts.

Maybe he thinks they are, like, water squirrels or something...?

Upper Norton Lake.

There is another fine camp site on the far end of the lake.


Gnocchi with bacon and cheese sauce was quite filling.


There was a 20% chance of precip in the forecast and, you guessed it; hit us head on.

Snow in camp.

Snow on the tent.

The first day of summer yielded a decent amount of snow.

Heading up the trail

The next morning was calm but cold. We headed off to the saddle with the skies continuing to clear.

View from the saddle.

Looking West.


Heading up the ridge was a blast. Fine views, not too difficult terrain but just enough problem solving to keep it real.

Norton Lakes.

Pioneer Mountains.

Norton Peak.

Ketchum on the ridge.

Deez on the ridge,

Our progress was impeded by the need for a lot of pictures of this amazing area.

Summit ridge.

Summit ridge.

Deez on the summit ridge.

After weaving past the last couple obstacles on the ridge, we had a clear view of the summit.

Summit view.

Summit view.

Summit view.

Summit view.

With the improving weather, we had plenty of time to linger on the summit.

Summit view.

Castle Peak.

Deez on the summit.


Summit view.

Heading back down the ridge was still pretty dang fun.

Descending the summit ridge.

Descending the summit ridge.

It was at about this point that Denise turned to me and said "This is one of the coolest things I've ever done". I'm not one to argue.

Mountain Climber Status: Official.

Smoky Mountains.

Smoky Mountains.

After packing up camp and a short rest, we headed back down the trail. We still thought it felt longer than the described 2 miles.


With Dog as my witness, I still regard this as one of the best trips ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment