15 August 2006

The View from West Goat Peak - peak bagging

Emily & got a late start for a long hike on a hot day. We reached the Fishtrap Creek trailhead after 8:30 am, and began the 7-mile trail portion of the hike. The first 1/3 begins with a fairly steep uphill, the middle 1/3 is fairly level but with a boggy trail where it is easy to miss the blazes, and then the last 1/3 is very steep and rocky. It was nearly noon when we reached the saddle that marked the end of trail for us. We ate, hydrated, and rested while the sky clouded over and the air cooled. Then it was up at ‘em, leaving the trail for a mile or so of bushwhacking along a finger ridge that leads to the base of E Goat Peak and the outlet from Lost Lakes.

It was good to drop the packs, set up the tent, visit with the pika and marmots, and take a nap. The sky cleared while we cooked and ate supper, and then it was time for another nap while a thunderstorm swept through. We got little rain from it, however, with most of the activity out over the foothills and Big Hole valley. The camp site was cool with some leftover snow drifts nearby, but there were just a few pesky flies and no skeeters.

Bright and early we woke, ate, and climbed the little scree headwall to Lost Lakes. They are so beautiful, and while we watched a large block of ice calved off the glacier and set off a tidal wave across the upper lake. Emily spotted a big billy way up near the crest of W Goat Peak. As we began to climb and the ridge grew ever steeper, the wary billy moved up and across the large snow cornice that you can see from Butte, and over the top and out of sight. We worked our way up the nose along the steep north chute, and again Emily spotted the goat—this one a young goat that at one point literally ran down a steep but smooth area of scree. We slowed some near the top, taking care in scrambling over the rough rock and large boulders. Once on top, we were surprised to find the cairn knocked down and the old peak jar gone. But someone – descendents of the old time Big Hole Christian/Paddock families – had visited late last summer and left a new peak jar (in the form of a metal tea can with screw top). We left our obligatory note, took some photos, and climbed back down to the upper lake where we enjoyed a well-deserved nap.

Back at camp, all was quiet save for the whistling of marmots and the occasional clatter of rock coming off the steep south face of E Goat Peak. There was a lot of elk smell in the air, and much evidence of activity. Several small whitebark pines had been destroyed by a bull or bulls rubbing their velvet away. On our hike out the next morning, RolyTheDog jumped and briefly chased a bunch of elk from the sparse larch stand just below camp. We saw only glimpses of the elk, and knew not whether they were bulls or cows. Damned dog anyway. Next time I’ll load her pack with rocks for the trek out to insure that she slows down.

Sadly, someone stole our precious few beers that I had stashed in the creek. Probably the same someone who violated the trail with an ATV and tore down the “No ATVs” Forest Service sign. Asshole. Next time, I’ll piss in a beer bottle, cap it back up, and leave it for any taker. Did that once to someone who used to filch my beer from Sugar Run on the Allegheny National Forest (probably someone from the nearby Steinhauser family camp). No one ever bothered my beer after that.

Back in town, Jan & I enjoyed a marvelous weekend of music at the annual An Ri Ra Irish fest in Butte. Lots of good beer, lots of good listening & singing along, lots of meeting up with old friends and acquaintances. My favorites were the kids fiddler group from Dillon and a contemporary jazz/rock/folk band called The Prodigals. Great stuff. Yesterday, we capped off the weekend with a party at Georgetown Lake, hosted at a cottage for the kids that Emily hangs out with and their parents. It was fun watching Emily water ski and enjoy herself with great peers. I found another Dad to elk talk with.

This week, it’s the big trip of the year—the grueling long hike and difficult climb to Hicks Lake. In the coming weeks, there will be some easier trips to Mounts Howe and Evans.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

See the more recent account of West Goat Peak, with pics, in early August 2007 on this blog (http://ecorover.blogspot.com).