Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grape Mountain Kayak/Hike

Last Spring, I intended to kayak across Arrowrock Reservoir and hike Grape Mountain. However, shortly after leaving shore I discovered my kayak was leaking and aborted the trip (I ended up hiking Shaw Mountain). Within a week I had repaired the kayak but I never returned to the peak - until this past Saturday!

I got a late start (shocking for me, I know) but I was on the water around noon. The water was a little choppy due to wind but it was nothing my fine craft couldn't handle. The constant splashing did provide extra motivation to paddle faster! Within a short time I had reached the far shore, but in a rocky, steep area which was kind of annoying to "de-kayak" in. After some scouting, I moved the kayak into a sandier spot downriver and cached the kayak in some conveniently placed deadfall.

From the cache spot, I embarked on a brisk hike up the steep lower aspects of the peak's southwest ridge. Immediately I noticed the arrowleaf balsamroot was flowering on the lower slopes - another sign of Spring! Below the ridge top, I spotted a half dozen elk grazing - however upon hitting the ridge their numbers were actually at least two dozen. Certainly the most elk I've spooked at once! Besides the elk, I later managed to spot blue grouse, chukar, and even a blue heron on the day.

Once on the ridge top, the hike became much gentler and a very pleasant ridgewalk up to the summit. Views were great and aside from the roads near the summit, this area seems to get very little use. The summit itself I had visited in 2007 (via a different route from the east) and I got to sign the summit register again. Due to wind and my late arrival, I didn't stay too long on top.

I descended via a different ridge (west ridge) which was much more shorter but also much steeper. The last few hundred feet above the reservoir were actually kind of obnoxious... steep, sandy, and loose. From the reservoir I worked my way over to the kayak so I could complete the round trip. Thankfully the kayak was in top shape and makes me want to find more peaks which I can hike in this manner!

Trip statistics: 1 mile kayaked, 8 miles hiked, 3150' elevation gain, 5.25 hours

Grape Mountain Pictures!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Idahosummits Spring 2010 Climb

The Idahosummits Message Board regularly arranges group climbs of various peaks in Idaho's central mountains. For various reasons (weather and living out of state) I've never attended one of these climbs. However everything finally came together for the Spring 2010 climb.

After some dithering, the group decided to climb Little Sister in the Lemhi Range on April 17. Dan and I made the drive over in my trusty Escape. There were some concerns about snow but once we got to eastern Idaho it was obvious that snow levels would be high enough to give us a good camping experience. Upon reaching the campsite (and finding John, Dave, and Steve already there) we were blown away by how great it was... fairly flat and with lots of room! Others gradually rolled in (Margo, Margie, Dave, and Alex from Pocatello, Jeff from Boise, Rob from Rupert) in the late afternoon. Steve made us an excellent salmon dinner which was followed up by good times around the campfire. Many of us were meeting each other for the first time so it was a good time to get acquainted and to tell various stories accrued over years of hiking. At about 11pm, everyone went to bed... however I don't think anyone slept too well due to the various noises (including my car alarm at one point) that persisted all night. Overnight, Matt and Michael (from Boise) and Russ (from Preston) also arrived. By morning we had 14 people at the trailhead!

We started getting ready about 6:30am and at this point it was sprinkling rain and snowing up high. Not the best climbing weather! We took our group photo then headed up the peak, first across sagebrush slopes and eventually into forest. It was nice brisk climb and we did a good job staying together as a group. We were getting snowed upon for awhile, but as we got higher it abated and the weather started to look more promising. About halfway up we put on snowshoes and followed the trail set by the early group (mostly John!) all the way to the top. As we got near the summit, the clouds totally broke and we were welcomed to the summit under blue skies!

The summit views were outstanding with all of the Spring snow still in place. Shortly after arriving, the early group returned to the summit (after their climb of Big Sister) which resulted in a total of 11 people on top - possibly a record for that peak! Eventually the wind started to pick up which motivated us to head down. The descent through the snow was a little bit slick as the snow had softened up quite a bit in the sun. After fighting fatigue for a bit, I found a rhythm and made a steady descent to the truck and beer!

We had a great time relaxing at camp in the sun before we finally headed out. Seven of us (most of the Boise crew) ate at Pickle's Place in Arco before finishing the drive home. In short, this was a great trip - thank you everyone!

Trip statistics: 3800' elevation gain, 5.75 miles, 7.75 hours

Idahosummits Spring 2010 Climb Pictures!

Dan's Trip Report
John's Trip Report
Margo's Trip Report
Matt's Trip Report
Dave's Trip Report
Jeff's Pictures
GPS Track

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cervidae Peak Hike

For a quick Spring hike I opted to climb nearby Cervidae Peak (which I also climbed last Fall). It would be my fourth time up the peak and the fourth time using a different route. This time I climbed from the Mores Creek Bridge which is actually a very enjoyable route. I saw lots of deer and chukars on the ascent - wildlife always makes a hike more exciting!

The trip was uneventful although the day was cloudier than I had hoped. After reaching the summit and reading through the register, I noticed that the previous entry was from BSU star football player Richie Brockel!

Trip statistics: 5 miles, 2350' elevation gain, 3 hours

Cervidae Peak Pictures!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

We hope everyone had a great Easter! Being the non-religious people that we are are, we didn't attend church or anything like that. However we did hard-boil some eggs and color them as part of the secular holiday tradition. Since we're nerds, we also had a little Easter egg hunt with the colored eggs :-)

Once that was over, I made a rare appearance in the kitchen and deviled the eggs. For dinner, Katie made a nice meal consisting of ham, roasted potatoes, green beans, and dinner rolls. Yum!

The day also involved the first yard mowing of the year and preparing our taxes (argh!). My only complaint is that it wasn't about 20 degrees warmer!

Freshly colored eggs!

Deviled eggs!