Sunday, August 28, 2016

Trip Report: Lemhi Enchainment, Little Sister to Foss Mountain

High Point on Little Brother (10,737)

  • August 27, 2016
  • Team: Solo
  • Summits: 
    • Little Sister
    • Big Sister
    • Little Brother (10,737)
    • Midway Mountain (10,751)
    • 10,681
    • Foss Mountain
  • Route: Mud Springs to Lemhi Crest
  • YDS: Class 2
  • Total Elevation Gain: 7,310 feet
  • Total Miles: 13 miles

A Class 2 Grand Slam and a Double

Drove to Mud Springs Friday evening. Arrived just before dusk. The hazy conditions did not bode well for photography so I just bedded down for the night. Slept under the stars. Watched the sky darken and the pin pricks of light appear. Mars and Saturn shone brightly in the southwestern sky long before stars and the Milky Way lit up the dark night. The faint white noise of crickets hummed in the desert silence.

Woke up at 4:30 and thought once about beginning the hike. Just once. Fell back asleep and woke at 6:30. Boots on the ground at 6:50. The goal was to make Little sister and then head for the main crest. Next, continue north as far as 10,681. From there I would head west along the ridge to Foss Mountain. Drop off Foss and hike back to Mud Springs.

From Mud Springs, I hiked up the gentle ridge shown below. The goal was to thread the space between the two sets of cliffs near the top. Once past this point, a rocky ridge leads to the lower slopes of Little Sister. At the end of the ridge, I came across what looked like a rusty gold pan. Decided to hang it in a tree marking the route up Little sister.

The way to Little Sister
On top of Little Sister
Big Sister looms ahead
The Lemhi Crest. The goal was to make the pointed peak on the left and then head west

Dropping off Little Sister I spooked 5 or 6 mountain goats. They fled up the rocky slope making a galloping ruckus in the shale.

Goats disappearing over a ridge
Little Brother (10,737) was next
Heading north off Big Sister, 10,737 was next. The Idea of calling it Little Brother just seemed fitting. For me have a moniker to remember the peak is just easier to remember and talk about than a number. Having Big Sister stand between both Little Sister and Little Brother was in keeping with the family theme already in place. Those who know Ben might agree. 

On the ridge, I passed this interesting rock. A large slab of limestone sits balanced on an outcropping. How in the world?

The Lemhi's own Balanced rock
I determined the high point of Little Brother to be this rock, and, yes, climbed out to touch the top.

Looking south towards Diamond Peak

The next summit would be 10,751. I was in the name game mode and dubbed it Midway Mountain because of its location about midway between the 2 most notable Lemhi Peaks: Bell and Diamond.

Midway Mountain (10,751)
Two views of Rust Peak along the way.

Rust Peak

Rust Peak
The next destination was 10,681. It was the most impressive of the enchainment. Yet, I was without another name. I made several images of this peak:





Heading east now, I made for the long west ridge in the above photo.

West ridge of 10,681
Made an image of Bell Mountain and The Clapper in the foreground.

Bell Mountain and The Clapper
Looking back at the route, I made these images:

Little Sister far right and Midway Mountain center left. The rise on the right does not have 300 feet of prominence.

Midway Mountain, Little Brother, and Big Sister

Ridge line from Little Sister to Big Sister and Little Brother on left
The east ridge from 10,861 leads directly to Foss Mountain.

Foss Mountain center mid-ground
There is an actual road that one can drive to the top of the mountain. I came across it and followed it for a bit and then took a more direct line to the summit. Once summited I now needed to descend southwesterly and meet the road for an easy path to the mouth of the canyon. My map showed a possible route between 2 sets of formidable cliffs. I got really lucky with this descent. I found a scree run that was perfect for sliding down the mountain. Then, with some moderate bushwacking, I found the road and the way out.

Looking back at the face I came down
 Coming out of the canyon I was impressed by this very thick oasis.

Spring at the canyon mouth leading up Foss
I began the long walk over the foothills back to Mud Springs. Often following faint roads or stepping through sagebrush, I headed south. the hike was punctuated by several lush areas fed by small springs. Although, barely a trickle this time of year, the areas were surprisingly verdant. I did see 5 more mountain goats on the upper foothills and counted myself lucky to come across such magnificent animals.

Looking back at Foss Mountain
The rolling foothills pushed my total elevation gain to over 7,300 feet and the distance to 12.97 miles. Finally I saw the green line of Cedar Run Creek in the far distance. I had rationed my 3 liters of water to just make it back to the truck and was motivated to reach the cooler and down a cold Mountain Dew Kickstart and a protein drink.

The line of cedars in the distance leading to Mud Springs
Reaching the car at 5:40 gave me plenty of time to make it to Mud Lake and order a Hawaiian pizza before the pizza joint would close at 8:00 P.M. Perfect timing and a perfect day. 

Finally, had a rare optical experience driving across the desert. Artists and photographers are keenly aware of different changing light temperatures from dawn to dusk. For example, Monet was a master of seeing the light for what it is. Most people never have the optical experience of seeing the light because of an overriding auto white balance in the brain. 

For some reason, I was able to really see the light that evening. Artists know that as the sun sets and the colors change, the shadows cast by the sun will appear as the complement of what ever light the sun and atmosphere transmit. That evening the sun set in the smokey haze from the numerous wildfires in the area. It glowed red. Hence the shadows of objects should be a vivid green. Most will never actually see this as their brain prevents this visual feast. However, that evening as I drove across the desert, I was ecstatic to see the shadows as green as can be. Wow! a final treat to a great day.

GPS Track from Mud Springs


Cliff Brane said...

This looks like a monumental one day hike. Wonder how many miles? Did I miss that somewhere in the blog? Cliff Brane

Larry Prescott said...

12.93 miles. Training for next week's climb of Gannet Peak in Wyoming. It's the state high point, higher than the Grand Teton. It's a 23 mile hike just to get to the mountain. With a 12,600 foot pass, 2 glaciers and then the summit. Then have to hike back out. I'll see how it goes.