Hyndman Peak is the 9th ranked Idaho 12er standing at 12,009ft. Having lived in the Boise area for the last 8 years I have made plenty of excursions to the Pioneer Mountains and to this day this is still one of my favorite areas. Hyndman has become one of those peaks that I climb almost every year, if I don’t summit I always enjoy the wonderful wildflower hike into the upper basin. Now that I reside in Colorado the trip to the Pioneers is a bit more difficult, but with Kristi’s folks living in Hailey it makes for an easy entry way into the mountains.
I ended up getting together quite the crowd for this hike. The original plan was for my friend Harsha to climb his second 12er after doing Borah last year and also try to get Michelle to the top on her second attempt. I invited a few other climbing friends; Mike, Loren and Jeff, and it turned out to be much more of a social outing which was nice. The night before the hike I drove up to the trailhead and met up with Harsha and Mike and kicked back with a few beers and told stories of my climbs in Colorado this year. I brought everyone some beer from Colorado called Colorado Native Lager; a beer made of 100% Colorado products and only sold in Colorado. So, I smuggled a 12pack on the plane. It was great to catch up with old friends and we all looked forward to a great hike the next morning. After a bit I headed back to Hailey where I would bed down for a short sleep before the 4am wake up. The only problem is when I got back to town I kept drinking good old Ninkasi and ended up not hitting the sack till almost midnight….oh well.
I never have a problem rising when I know I’m heading into the mountains, but I was much more sluggish today. Michelle had the coffee ready; we tossed the packs into the rented Chevy Cruz and were off to pick up Lisa. It was still pitch black out and a little breezy by the time we made it to the trailhead. Everyone was up and getting their final preparations done as we arrived. I got a head count of 9 people and we were off on the trail by 5am with headlamps donned.
So usually I can fight through the hang over, but the Ninkasi Total Domination did just that to me..domination. I wasn’t feeling the best but still trucked on up the trail. The lead kept changing as people would constantly be shedding layers or adjusting packs, somehow I ended up in front. I am still used to hiking solo a lot and found myself getting far in front of the pack at times. When we got to the split to Big Basin we made sure everyone was still with us and did our introductions since we could now see faces in the early morning light.
I tried eating some food, but that didn’t go so well, so my plan was to sweat out the booze. I took off up the hill heading to the first mosquito pond. The grade here seems steeper every year, but I would rather have it in my face than dragging out miles of no gain like the previous two miles. Somehow I always find another gear hiking the steeps, I think a good mix of a rest step and establishing a rhythm is the key. From hiking the 14ers in Colorado this year I found this is the most efficient way to get up the monsters. I made it to the pond by an old camp site and waited a while for everyone to re-group for a rest. Unfortunately the mosquitos were out and they wanted that sweet nectar from the IPA in my blood. I had a good sweat going, and I thing I dried up my food and water resources in my body but was able to eat a granola bar and a shot block. I was still a bit queasy but doing better….dam beer!
Up the “levels” as I like to call them we all spread out a bit more. This was a nice social section of the trip where I got a chance to talk with pretty much everyone. The wildflowers were out and they were amazing. I always love this hike because of the great Geology and the magnificent wildflowers. At one point I was in the back hiking with Michelle and Lisa and we noticed Mike was coming down the trail. He said he was done. After climbing mountains the two previous days his legs were starting to cramp up so he was heading to the car. We said adios and continued up. Not 10 minutes later Lisa looks down the trail and said: Is that Mike coming back up? It sure was. Typical Mike, he just couldn’t turn around on such a beautiful day. Mike is always good for a laugh out in the mountains. The four of us were a bit separated from the others at this point since we were talking more than hiking. I must note this now that Mike and I are the only ones up here to previously climb Hyndman. So, we knew the route and didn’t have as much desire to climb as the others did.
I think Jeff was in the lead at this point and we noticed everyone was following him up a boulder field in-between the snow chutes. Michelle had a good idea this wasn’t the way since she had been high on the mountain before, so she waited for me to catch up. I pointed everyone in the right direction and we all found our way down to the standard trail except for Loren who was tackling the boulder field on his way to the ridge. We found a nice trail heading up to the saddle and in not too much time we found ourselves an excellent view.
I had made it clear on the way up this was a “saddle day” for me. I fear that I imbedded a bug into everyone. We took a good rest at the saddle and nobody else had enough desire to climb the ridge to the summit. So, we all watched Loren climb like an ant on a hill. Once he figured out we were all lazy and were calling it a day he took off like a jack rabbit up the mountain. A few of us had “saddle beers” instead of “summit beers” at 10am, took many beautiful photos of the Pioneer range and enjoyed the great weather we were having. We thought we could see Loren summit and we hooted at him, but later he told us our hooting was a little premature. But, like I told everyone this is like a Himalayan Expedition, we all worked together to get one of our team to the summit. Haha, not really but it made us feel better inside by saying that. While at the saddle Jeff stumbled upon an ammo box with a register saying something to the effect that they got tired and left a register here. Like Loren said after the climb, this is one register that can be taken away.
|Pioneers to the North|
We started down the mountain after what seemed like an hour and all of us were constantly searching for Loren up in the rocks. After we dropped a few levels we all took a nice nap on the grass as we waited for our lone summiter. Jeff and his crew took off once we could see Loren was almost to us. Lisa and Michelle took off about the same time as Mike, Harsha and I waited for Loren. He told us of the great views and talked a bit about the upper mountain then we were off.
|Upper Lake Surrounded by Wildflowers|
The hike down was more of a scenic walk. I was in no hurry, so I took the chance to have more conversations and get photos of all the wildflowers. I always dread that last two miles where it becomes much more of ground pounding, but the scenery is still so good I never let that leg of the race bring me down. Once I got down to the creek I dunked my head in the cool water and was refreshed again. Somewhere around 2:30 I made it back to the car. Jeff and crew had already left, Harsha was packing up his camp then Loren gave me a beer. I took the beer and headed to the creek to dunk my feet in for an ice cold bath. Man, once I put my feet in my arch cramped up…ewww didn’t enjoy that part at all.
The rest of us sat around Mikes car had some beers and sodas and talked about the trip today and other trips we had done this year. Not long after CAPS LOCK DOUG showed up with Spider Legs from their climb of Old Hyndman. This was my first meeting and I think he speaks with CAPS LOCK on as well. We finished off what I had left of the Colorado Native Lager and Loren got me hooked on Deschutes Twilight, by 3:30 we called it a day and headed back into town. We had a BBQ to get to and if there is one thing I love like the mountains its good BBQ!
Starting Elevation: 7,040ft
Hyndman Saddle: 10,800ft
Total Gained Elevation: 3,760ft
Distance: 11.8 miles
Time: 6:32 moving, 4:09 stopped
Climbing Partners: Michelle, Lisa, Harsha, Loren, Jeff and Crew