Since Mark was in the middle of training for his
upcoming trip to climb Denali, he was constantly
looking for trips to get out and get some altitude and
also get some miles under his feet. I am always up for a
sufferfest somewhere, so I agreed to head up Castle
Peak in the Lost River Range.
We headed out of Boise on Friday afternoon and got to the
end of the road at Upper Cedar Creek and pitched a tent for the
night. We were up and on the trail before the sun came up and it
was supposed to be 3-4 miles to the pass. We later calculated it to
be closer to 6 miles.
We followed an incredibly nice trail for about the first 2 miles and then lost it in
the creek bottom and ended up bushwhacking until we got to the tree line. Not one of
the most fun trips I' had volunteered for a while. Mark was nearly running up the hill, his
Denali training was showing, and I just plodded along from being out of shape after a
winter of doing nothing.
The snow was in good shape, fairly well consolidated and easy traveling. We kept
heading up the canyon toward the pass and I started looking at the slope and thinking
that it wasn't too steep, but as firm as the snow was, it would be a pretty good ride to
the bottom--so the axe came off the pack, but no crampons were necessary.
Eventually I caught up to Mark at the saddle and was ready to call it a good day and
head home, but he wanted to get a look at the North Face of USGS Peak from the
summit of Castle Peak, so after a good rest, some food and Gatorade, we headed to
Mark was right when he told me the face was pretty spectacular, and it looked more like
a face from the Canadian Rockies--VERY impressive! Now I was beginning to get the
climbing bug again.
At the summit Mark told me the real reason for wanting to get a look at USGS peak, he
and J.O. were planning on attempting a complete West-to-East Lost River Range
traverse. Parts of the traverse has been done, but never end-to-end and never in late
winter alpine conditions; a very ambitious goal.
A few more pictures and then the trip off the mountain and the real adventure began.
We moved very fast to the snow line and then made a very big mistake and tried to find
a trail that was supposed to be along the creek. We bushwhacked through the creek
bottom and then headed up on the hillside to continue bushwhacking through extremely
thick mountain mahogany trees and brush. That combined with the loose talus made
one of the worst hikes I have ever been on in my life.
After nearly 4 hours to get down the mountain we were back at the car and i was
definitely ready for the ride back to Boise.