Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Cross and Avalanche Peak

The Cross 
Hiking day number 2 in Idaho.  This ended up being a solo venture, but it was a great snowshoe.  The Cross and Avalanche Peak are lower mountains in the northern Boulder Mountains.  This was a very easy snowshoe that would be great for all levels.
Drive HWY 75 north to Galena Pass, on the north side of the pass park in the pull-out on the east side of the road.  This is the trailhead for both of these mountains.  I don’t know that this is an official TH, but based on the amount of tracks I saw it gets plenty of use.  I put my snowshoes on in the parking area and I was off around 8am.
Follow the main track that leads to the southwest ridge.  Once on the main ridge there were numerous ski/snowshoe tracks from here on out.  Find the correct tracks to follow (snowshoe or ski) then simply follow the route to the summit of The Cross.  I decided to have a bit more fun and do a more direct route on the south side allowing me to take in the morning views of the Boulder Mountains.  After a short steep climb I was on the rocky summit of The Cross.
Avalanche Peak
From The Cross I could see Avalanche Peak was still a ways away and there was no real snowshoe track leading in the direction I needed to go.  Easy fix; plow my own road.  After dropping down a hundred feet or so off the summit I saw some additional tracks heading to the east.  I followed a snowshoe track to the flat saddle between the two mountains till the track died out.  The track also appeared to have what looked like Wolf tracks, but I cannot confirm that.  The animal tracks were fresh while the old tracks seemed really old and crusted over.  No animal sightings other than a squirrel or two though.
I just plowed my own road up most of Avalanche peak which was fun to do.  At some points the snow was hard and I was able to stay on top and other points I would drop to shin level but never deeper than that.  I was mainly following my GPS to the summit so I arrived at what I though was a summit on the southwest.  After recalling Dan’s pictures from the summit on the northeast looked more like where he topped out at.  That was a simple two minute walk over and then I was finally on top of Avalanche Peak. 
Pano Looking South
Me on the Summit of Avalanche Peak
The clouds were starting to lower a bit, and the wind was chilly so I took a quick fuel break, snapped a few pictures and started on my venture down the mountain.  I met up with my ascent track minus the walk up to the south summit and it was a quick walk down to the saddle area.  Instead of re-ascending The Cross, I followed another track around the north side that kept my additional elevation gain to a minimum.
In no time at all I was back to the parking lot and another trip was in the books.  This was a great snowshoe after a fun climb of Gladiator a few days prior.  The Boulder Mountains seem to be talking to me a little bit right now, so I guess I will have to come back and climb them all.  Such a beautiful range that I neglected all my years living in Idaho…shame on me!  Hell, I may even try to squeeze in another hike tomorrow.  It’s the addiction I tell you.  Have fun and be safe out there.
GPS Track
Date: 11/30/2013
Starting Elevation: 8,656ft
The Cross: 9,225ft
Avalanche Peak: 9,443ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,500ft
Class: 2
Distance:  3.83 miles
Time: 2:16 moving, 35 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Solo

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gladiator Peak

Gladiator Peak
It’s Thanksgiving again so that means it is our annual trip back to Hailey, Idaho.  With almost a week in Idaho I am hoping to climb a few mountains, so this report of Gladiator Peak is number one for the week.  I attempted Gladiator last Thanksgiving with my friend Mike, and we were battling snow thigh high from a different route than this, so I had to come back and give this mountain another try.
Early Morning in the Boulders
I did some research this time via and, both websites I frequently used when climbing mountains in Idaho.  For this trip I would hike the southwest ridge.  I wanted to wait for it to be light so I left Hailey about 6am and was to the pull-out on HWY 75 by 7am.
For TH parking on this trip I drove north on HWY 75 past Galena Lodge then just before the first switchback I parked at the pull-out on the west side of the road.  It was dark still being just after 7am, so I took my time getting geared up.  If anyone is going to follow my GPS Track for this report I would follow the southern traverse rather than the northern traverse to the southwest ridge.  There is much less dead fall to contend with, my hike out was quite nice though. 
Summit Ridge
Once I met up with NF-182 I headed up the steep slopes to meet the southwest ridge, after gaining the ridge it mellowed out a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, it was steep and I was huffing and puffing but I was at least on the planned route now.
Something I forgot to mention was I left my snowshoes in the truck.  I didn’t think they would be too effective, and I wanted to shed as much weight as I could.  The snow was hit-and-miss, so some parts of the route they would have been good and some parts with the powder it wouldn’t have mattered too much.  I weigh about 260 and with a pack I find snowshoes more of a drag in the early season, so that’s why I left them in the truck.  I was dropping mid shin for quite a bit of the trip which slowed me down, but I just took my time with it.  This is where the mental toughness of solo hiking comes in.  I just don’t rush myself and take it one step at a time.  Eventually the goal of the summit is usually had.  With the perfect weather today I knew I had plenty of time.  I love solo hiking, and I primarily did solo when climbing in Idaho, so it was nice to get a trip out by myself.  Solo climbs are great for clearing your mind.
Turkey Tracks
It was basically a trudge, but I still thought I was moving at a decent pace.  When I first saw the summit from below I thought it was the false summit.  So, when I found I was on the false summit, I was happy to see I wasn’t too far from the true summit. The last 500ft or so to the main summit ridge was time consuming, but the view was endless.  After attaining the summit ridge I saw I had a bit to go to get to the far end, and from what I have read online that is the true summit.  The funny thing was running into turkey tracks along the ridge.  That sure is fitting for turkey day.
The crux was the traverse over the far northeast end of the ridge.  The snow was powdery and filling in the holes around the rocks.  I took my sweet time but made it over to the true summit a little before 11am.
I didn’t feel any wind till I was on the summit, so I put on my down jacket and had a snack.  The views were out of this world today.  This was one of those days where you just sit there and take in the view for as long as you can.  Castle Peak was looking amazing, one I have yet to climb.  I foresee a trip coming up for that in the near future.
Castle Peak
It was time to head down so I got my stuff back together.  Typically I don’t do the Cliff Gels, but I had one today and it helped immensely on the way down.  It seemed like I was making good time down the mountain so I just kept going till I hit the forest service road.  There was nothing exciting to note on the trip down.  I just knew I needed to get back for turkey dinner.  I took a different route back to the road heading more south to avoid the ups and downs and the downfall area.  This is the route I would do again, and maybe bring some snowshoes.
It was a great adventure today, and now it’s nice to be back with the family and enjoying all the smells of Thanksgiving.  The plan for Saturday is the Cross and Avalanche Peak, so hopefully there is a new TR coming soon.
GPS Track
Date: 11/28/2013
Starting Elevation: 7,636ft
Gladiator Peak: 10,243ft
Total Gained Elevation: 3,000ft
Class: 2
Distance:  5.81 miles
Time: 4:17 moving, 1:35 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Solo

Friday, November 22, 2013

Green Mountain

Me on the Summit
As the semester winds down I have been trying to get out more and more.  Last Sunday I did a hike of Legault Mountain with a few friends but didn’t do a trip report since I have hiked that mountain several times now.  I had bought some new hiking boots at REI’s latest sale and I was eager to test them out.  The boots are Solomon Quest’s, and this is my first time buying this brand.  So far I highly recommend them.  They have a good fit with great ankle and arch support. 

For today I was looking for a quick hike since Kristi was working a half day.  About 10pm last night I decided I needed to get out and found Green Mountain via Summit Post and made plans for a Friday morning hike.

Green Mountain is only about a 30 minute drive from my place, so I was in no hurry to leave this morning.  I hung about the apartment waiting for the temp to rise a bit and finally left around 9am.  I chose to take C470 to Alameda Parkway, follow the parkway to the east turning left at a stoplight. Turn northeast continuing what is still Alameda and park at the TH location off of Utah or Florida Ave.  I parked at the small lot off of Utah Ave, if I did it again I would head up to the Florida Ave lot which is much bigger and the loop trail works a lot better from there.

The online maps I found were sketchy at best so I was kind of on an exploratory hike today.  As I left the parking lot the trail was snow/ice covered and a bit slick.  Not worthy of traction, I just had to be mindful of my steps.  For my ascent route I took the John O. Haden Trail, which is easy to navigate with signs at each intersection.  The trail was mostly a single track, but it did widen in some areas.  There had been some bikers on the trail since the snowfall yesterday and a few footprints, but not much that I could see in the way of humans at the time.

Mount Morrison
Eventually the John O. Haden Trail connects to the Green Mountain Trail, which is more of a road.  This is on top of the flat summit ridge north of the radio tower.  From here it is a short rolling road walk to the true summit of Green Mountain.  The summit area is flat with a tiny rock cairn.  I found a large boulder which I think had a benchmark attached to it at one point, but is no longer there.

Longs Peak
With the temps around 30° and hardly any wind on the summit it was very pleasant.  I took the typical pictures then walked over to another high point on the ridge to check it out.  There wasn’t much on the other point than a larger cairn.  I started back along the trail, which is much more of a road on top.

For the descent I stayed on the Green Mountain Trail to see where it went.  I recommend if you take this route and parked at the lot off of Utah Ave to turn west when arriving at the John O. Haden Trail intersection.  I stayed on the main trail and it took me to the lot off of Florida Ave.  From there I connected on the trail that leads around the mountain till meeting back up with the Utah lot.

This was a great easy hike.  It reminded me of hiking Table Rock back in Boise, but with less elevation gain.  I made a loop, but this could be done from many ways.  I would love to do this as a full on snowshoe with about 8 inches of fresh powder sometime.  We are off to Idaho on Tuesday, so hopefully another trip report will come out of that. 
GPS Track
 Date: 11/22/2013
Starting Elevation: 6,094ft
Green Mountain Summit: 6,847ft
Total Gained Elevation: 753ft
Class: 1
Distance:  4.93 miles
Time: 1:58 moving, 15 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Solo