Monday, September 01, 2014

Labor Day at Indian Creek

The mountain breezes have definitely moved from warm to cool and crisp. As we hiked, mist blew across the vistas to the west. Priest Lake came into view and then just as quickly was obliterated by the gray white fog moving along with the high clouds.
Rayelle's B&W snag photo.

My memory of the hike from Horton Ridge up through the low lying huckleberry bush was a bit foggy itself.  I was able to get us up along some very rough roads to the trail head, but it was by gut feeling and not clear memory. The road up had been plowed full of big humps to prevent washouts, none of which were there twelve years ago when we drove our trucks, with pop-up campers, up to stay overnight at the old lookout spot at the top of Horton.

The trees themselves looked to be much bigger and thicker than we remembered, as we tried to figure out if we were actually on the right road. When we made the final sharp turn up to the ridge top we knew we were on the correct path. Before us at the site of the old lookout were 18 vehicles. A crowd of twenty people were lacing up their shoes and packing their packs for the hike to the ridge top. I was a bit crushed.  My prediction was there would be maybe two or three other vehicles at the most bringing up people to make the hike to see Chimney Rock, not 18.

Priest Lake looking southwest.
We got out of the truck and looked over the area. Labor Day weekend is definitely the wrong time to go anywhere thinking you will find a bit of solitude. The masses are everywhere now and I guess you just have to know that and wait until they go back to work and school to find your peace.

Our hiking group consisted of the folks we had been camping with down at Indian Creek campground. Mike, Rayelle and Julia Anderson had been our host and had taken the initiative to call and make camping reservations on January 2nd. They also had the truck that we crawled to the ridge top in. Another member of our group was Gabby, the daughter of Rayelle’s niece. Rounding out our hiking team were our two dogs, Hildie and Kobi.
The hiking team.

We climbed up the ridge trail in amongst the huckleberries and other hikers. The hike took about 2 ½ hours with all the stops, pictures and berry picking.  Our weather was cool to cold, partly sunny to cloudy, but no rain or snow was encountered.  The hike started out with mild elevation gain, climbed up the ridge and then went very steep near the ridge saddle. Our objective was the ridge saddle only and when we reached this area we were happy to be at our goal.

Mike Anderson on the hike up.
We sat for a bit and enjoyed the views. Our hike back down was much easier then the one to the top. We loaded up into the rig and were back to camp by 4:00 PM.

Seeing Chimney Rock was the highlight of our adventure part of the Labor Day weekend. Linda and I had driven up on Thursday before the rest of our party arrived on Friday.  The camp site was very nice, giving us lots of privacy and a great place for Kobi to wander around.  The north side of this area was completely away from people so when the crowds moved in, we could retreat there and have some private time.

Priest Lake looking Northwest.
Most of the weekend was filled with short walks and chatting with the Andersons.We had ice cream from the campground store a couple times.  It is still fun to do the crowded campground camp thing. We enjoy watching the people and always end up shaking our heads in amazement at peoples lack of camp etiquette.I can't say that we don't make camping mistakes, but we are pretty good at not bothering the folks around us.

Monday pack-up was easy and we were on the road by noon.  We stopped in Coolin and some friends, Mike and Caroline Beckwith drove out from their lake cabin to visit with us.  We hadn't seen them in quite a while so we really enjoyed our chat.  

We took the route through Old Town and then highway 41. We were home and unloaded by about 3:00 PM. What a great way to spend a busy holiday.
Chimney Rock, can't believe I have climbed it twice.
Climbers on Chimney Rock taken with my zoom.
Ridge summit team.
Priest Lake from the road driving down.

1 comment: said...

awesome. i have not made it to the priest lake area this year. sadly. there are a lot of places id like to hike in the area. so many places, so little time.
thanks for the write up.