Date: June 17, 2017.
Objective: Couch Peak aka Elk Ridge 8,551ft.
Stats: 6.4 miles and 2,339ft gain in 5:40 round trip. Class 1/2.
Partners: Deez and Ketchum.
Gear Notes: N/A.
Links: Big Dan's report with driving directions. Splattski's hike.
|Couch Peak, aka Elk Ridge from the road. The summit is the second point from the right.|
I was looking for a peak that was close to town that wouldn't be too hard to cram into a half day trip. Since Big Dan and Splattski have pretty much done every peak I've ever looked at doing, it didn't take long to dig up some great beta on Couch Peak. I figured that the views would be pretty fantastic since the summit was a USGS triangulation station. The only other criteria I set for this hike is that I did not want to have to use the words post-hole or bushwhack to describe it. We crossed our fingers and set out with a promising weather forecast and a sub-alpine start.
|Smoky Mountains with Big Peak on the left.|
|Wells Summit parking area.|
We left the small parking area at Wells Summit just before 11am. The views were already proving to be worth the visit.
|First section of trail.|
The fist mile was a little steep and rocky but the trail was obvious.
|Looking toward Fairfield.|
A few snow patches lingered and the wild flowers were in bloom which added to the scenery.
|Ridge to the summit.|
The route headed north along the ridge so we were never without a fine view and a slight breeze to cool us off.
|Smoky Dome in the Soldier Mountains.|
We bypassed some of the up-and-down-again stuff where it made sense too. Most of the time, we just stuck to the trail.
|Looking northeast over the valley.|
In addition to the fine views in every direction, we also got a nice peek into the Pioneer Mountain's as we discussed our plans for a trip into Big Basin, just a month and a half away.
After passing the last hill on the ridge, the true summit was not much farther. The high point was obvious and had some type of radio equipment on it.
|Deez on the snow.|
|Deez and Ketchum almost to the top.|
Summit 360 Video
|Summit of Couch Peak.|
|Pioneer Mountains from the summit.|
After sitting down to a nice break and some lunch on (the) Couch, we started down with the intent of cutting out as much uphill hiking as we could. The small lingering snowfield made for some fun low angle boot skiing to shave a few minutes off the descent.
|Ketchum enjoying the view.|
|Deez on descent,|
|Looking back on the route.|
For being a small peak not far from Boise, its a very pleasant hike with great views and an alpine feel to it. There was one last big hill we had to go up and over to avoid a terrain trap that would be quite costly. Then the flies came out for the hot and steep 900+ foot descent of the initial rocky section just above the parking area; the days only minor disappointment.
|Up and over, one last time.|
I'll admit that I spent a fair amount of time staring at Big Peak in the Smoky Mountains. It beckoned me the whole day and now I have another peak to add to the very, very long list of peaks I want to do. Not that its a bad thing, but you know, time...