Friday, October 5, 2012

A week of hiking in Idaho and Montana

Hard to believe it is October and just a few months ago we were hiking in the wilds of northern Idaho and western Montana.  As we normally do in the summer, we spent some time out at our cabin in Idaho, although not nearly the amount we wished to spend there or on the trails.  Our plans to fly out of San Francisco for Seoul to shorten the flight for the dogs as much as possible cut into our stay, although it did give us the opportunity to drive down the coasts of Oregon and northern California (next blog).  Trail hiking opportunities were further limited by yet another late snow and heavy runoff in July.  As you will see by the photos, the roads into the trail heads and the trails were still snow-covered, and the creek crossings were sometimes tricky.  The weather too did not seem to want to cooperate.  It was sunny and close to 100 degrees all the way across the country, until we hit western Montana.  Then, the temps fell into the 60s, and it began to rain!  I am sure the folks broiling on the east coast at that time would have appreciated those temperatures.  Our days on the trail, however, were typical lovely summer days in the Inland Northwest with clear skies, temps in the 80s, and very low humidity.

There were a number of hikes we planned to do before heading off to Korea, but most were inaccessible, so we focused on those we could do and what we had time for.  None of them were long this year, and one, Rock Lake, is an old stand by we've talked about before in the blog.  Of the others, the Wigwams was spectacular while Chicago Peak is one we have been to before a number of years ago.

The trail in to Lunch Peak, Pend Oreille mountains. After a few miles of trudging through the deep snow, we gave up on this trail. 
Further down, however, the trail into Lake Darling was somewhat open (still lots of snow), and the dogs got an opportunity to do some swimming.  We also saw two moose on the trail; unfortunately, I was too slow on the camera draw to catch them on film.
Rock Lake did not disappoint.
Musashi, the Christmas puppy enjoyed the clear waters of the lake.

While you cannot tell from this photograph, there is a tremendous amount of water coming off St. Paul Pass in the distance. 
It is a beautiful place, and one of our favorites in the Cabinet Mountains.
The first creek crossing to get in, however, was a bit tricky.  A hiking party behind us turned back.

Next, we went to the Wigwams, and while the name may not exactly apply to the peaks in the distance,  the hike (through much snow) was worth the effort.  The photo does not do it justice, but what you are looking at is a spectacular headwall deep in the Selkirk Mountains, a few miles NE of Priest Lake, towering a few thousand feet above the drainage for Kent Creek.   The hike itself is only a few miles, but the road in requires a high clearance 4x4 vehicle.

Working our way up to the top with Priest Lake off in the distance.
The Seven Sisters and Chimney Rock.

The view from the top.
North towards Bonners Ferry and Canada.
The top.
Last hike of the summer...up to Chicago Peak, where the real challenge is just the drive up to the trail head.  Seven miles along a rough dirt road, with the last two requiring 4-wheel drive and a a high clearance vehicle.   This year, however, much of the last 2 miles was still covered in snow.  Made for a good hike though.

Which the dogs loved.

The trail, thankfully short.
The reward.  The flank of St Paul Peak to the left (which H climbed a few years ago) and St Paul Pass in the distance.  On the other side of the pass is Rock Lake.

Chicago named because from a distance, it resembles a city skyline.

Happy dogs on the snowy trail.
Heading down.  Goodbye to the Cabinets for another year.

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