Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Peak 4973' Hike

My employer was kind enough to grant us Good Friday as a holiday. Being the non-religious person that I am, I opted to use the day to do some Spring hiking. It had stormed the previous day so I decided to choose a lower elevation peak that would hopefully avoid most of the snow and mud. I chose Peak 4973', an obscure peak near Lucky Peak Reservoir.

This peak can be climbed from several directions but I opted to hike from the saddle on Blacks Creek Rd. This route is interesting because the starting and ending elevations are almost the same! Despite my choice, conditions were quite soft and occasionally muddy on the shadier aspects, which is definitely unusual for late April. Above 5000' on the ridge, there were a few inches of fresh snow melting fast. Despite the sogginess, the hike was quite enjoyable as the ridge over to 4973' is seldom traveled and featured numerous deer, grouse, and raptor sightings. Hiking felt a little bit like cardio interval training as the ridge provides many ups and downs along the way.

The peak itself has a flat summit but with a great view of the surrounding foothills. After taking in the views, I proceeded to "descend" which actually involved about the same amount of work as the "ascent". Still a great day to be out hiking!

Trip statistics: 10.92 miles, 3013' elevation gain, 4:34h

Peak 4973' Pictures!
GPS Track

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Hikes: Big Foot Butte, Hutton Peak, Fiddler BM

For both of the past two weekends I've hiked in the area surrounding Boise to enjoy the milder weather that has finally arrived.

On the 3rd I went on a short hike to Big Foot Butte on the Snake River Plain. This unremarkable destination was chosen because it allowed me to become the first person to visit the nine summits of Ada County. Heady stuff I know. I could have driven closer to the top but instead I parked a little ways away to get an actual hiking experience. Despite the windy conditions, it was an enjoyable and relaxing hike with great 360° views of the mountains surrounding the plain. The "summit" of Big Foot Butte is very flat and a GPS is highly recommended to find the high ground.

An interesting thing about Big Foot Butte is that it is located adjacent to the Idaho National Guard's Orchard Training Area which makes for interesting scenery. The roads reaching the butte feature lots of range targets, lookout towers, junked cars, signs advising of unexploded ordnance, etc. While in the area I also visited the summits of Flagstaff Butte (a very short hike) and Little Joe Butte (a drive-up).

Last Sunday (the 10th), I planned on climbing Peak 4973' near Boise. After driving to the trailhead I was getting ready to hit the trail and Dan pulled up out of the blue. Coincidentally he was in the area at the same time and planning on climbing nearby Hutton Peak and Fiddler BM. After considering this alternative, I jumped in and we drove down the road to hike the two peaks together. As we were getting ready, an angry grouse confronted us and was following us around and even pecking at Dan. As we started our hike the grouse followed us for at least 5 minutes before it lost interest in us. Unsurprisingly, the same grouse was still on guard when we returned to the vehicle!

The hike up to Hutton Peak was straightforward and only took 90 minutes or so. We took a short break atop the peak and took in the very nice Spring scenery of the lower Boise Mountains. From Hutton Peak we hiked over to Fiddler BM along a well-defined motorcycle track which led us over a number of ups and downs on the ridge top. Fiddler BM is an unremarkable peak along a ridge leading to Danskin Peak but does have a good view of most of the Danskin range. We mostly retraced our steps on the way back but we did take a shortcut to descend to the car a little faster. We were both a little tired by the end as our bodies are clearly still in early season shape!

Big Foot Butte Pictures!
Big Foot Butte trip statistics: 4 miles, 400' elevation gain, 1:20h

Hutton Peak/Fiddler BM Pictures!
Hutton Peak/Fiddler BM GPS Track