Wednesday, July 18, 2012

North Idaho Hiking July 2012

I had a business trip in Pullman so I decided to bolt on some hiking given that the weather forecast was perfect.  I left Boise early Wednesday morning and upon reaching Banks, I parked at the junction with the Banks-Lowman Road and climbed Peak 3668'.  This peak sits about 850' above the highway and made for a brisk morning climb.  The footing is generally good and the route is very direct, only requiring about 0.4 miles to reach the summit.  The summit is pretty flat but it does have decent views of the surrounding area.

Once back on the road, I left the highway in Cottonwood and drove to the summit of Cottonwood Butte, one of Idaho's 50 most prominent peaks.  Upon reaching the top I was surprised to see a giant concrete abandoned building on the top and lots of other ruins.  Later I would learn this summit was the site of the Cottonwood Air Force Station radar site in the 1950s and 1960s.  The ruins were interesting and suggested a hatred of windows by the designers.  The actual summit is a short distance from the ruins and features the foundation of a fire lookout, benchmark, and lots of radio towers.  The summit has partial views of the surrounding area; climbing through the dark stairwell to the top of the abandoned radar building would likely yield much better results.  I think this peak has more debris on the summit than any other I've visited anywhere.

I got to work just after 1PM and worked a half day.  Once done with work, I headed to Bald Mountain, a drive-up peak which is also the highpoint of Latah County.  The drive was longer than expected and when I reached the summit there were a group of people there who had rented the fire lookout!  They said it is an incredible way to spend a night and even talked highly of spending a night up there during a lightning storm!  They were also kind enough to let me walk around the top of the lookout and take a few pictures of the expansive, rolling terrain.  After chatting a bit more, I began the drive back to Moscow where I was staying, arriving about 9PM after a long day!

Thursday was a regular day at work and after departing work I changed clothes then headed for Moscow Mountain.  I wasn't sure how close to the summit I could get in the Civic but the road is drivable up to about 4300' which was closer than I thought.  An intrepid 2WD driver could probably get further but the road gets pretty steep and sandy after where I parked.  I made good time uphill and quickly found my way to East Moscow Mountain, which is clearly used for camping and has good views toward the south and Moscow.  After taking a few pictures, I headed over to the main summit of Moscow Mountain.  Due to mis-reading my map and a total lack of signage, I missed the turn to the summit and wasted some time heading too far west.  After I corrected my mistake, I cruised up the road toward the summit.  Eventually I crossed a gate which marked as private property but was also posted indicating foot traffic was permitted.  I continued past an interesting collection of buildings after which the road deteriorated to something closer to overgrown singletrack.  This continues all the way to the summit, an unremarkable collection of rocks sticking out amongst the surrounding brush.  After taking a few pictures and noticing how low the sun was getting, I scampered back to the vehicle.  This time I rolled into Moscow about 9:15 - another long day!

Friday involved no hiking - after leaving work at 6PM I simply embarked on the long drive home.  I did get stopped by a WSP trooper just south of Pullman - he must've felt sorry for me driving back to Boise because he didn't give me a ticket!  I got home at 2AM Saturday morning totally exhausted!

North Idaho July 2012 Pictures!

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