Yesterday I woke up bright and early intending to head over near the Stuart Range for some lower elevation, early season hill climbing. I’d been watching the weather and the traffic cameras (Blewett pass in particular) and figured it was at least worth a try.
Summary report: bring skis. So the road is blocked with snow drifts about 1.2 miles (2 km) before the trailhead to Iron Peak (trail #1399). I arrived at the blockage early afternoon under a mostly sunny sky with temperatures reaching into the middle 60° F (15° C) and melt water was rushing off every exposed surface. Honestly, I should have known better, but I loaded up my pack and laced up my boots nonetheless.
The section of road between the first snowdrift and the trail head isn’t bad. There’s one particularly bad drift at camp Wahoo, but pretty much all of them could be overcome with a lifted truck and a running start. I posses neither, so I walked.
The trail head has become, more or less a ditch, as they do this time of year. Where it is exposed on this west north-west flank of this hill it’s moist and often blocked by deadfall. Take heart, you won’t climb through the mud and rubble for very long because the snowpack has not abated much.
I climbed up about 2 miles (3.2 km) at first trying to follow the concealed contours of the trail, but eventually giving up and striking my own path toward the top. Considering that the afternoon temperatures had been steadily climbing into the 70’s it was no wonder I postholed most of that way. Usually, it was calf length to knee, but you know a hill like Iron Peak won’t let you off without a few hip sinkers.
I climbed for as long as I could then after seeing a father-son pair skiing down the hill and crotching myself after a particularly memorable sinker I decided I’d had my fair share and turned tail for home.
Note to self: next time bring your skis.
I did take video, I am not planning on publishing any of it.