Scroll to the bottom of the page for the Math Geek Adventures blog archive.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Stanley Hot Springs, Idaho

On the hike out.
On the weekend before last, Jen and I drove over Lolo Pass into the Lochsa country, Idaho, and hiked in to Stanley Hot Springs. The hike begins from the Wilderness Gateway Campground on the Lochsa River, about 95 miles from Missoula. It is 5 miles in to the springs, which you would think would keep the people away, but every time I've gone - always in October or November - it's been busy. I think this is due to the fact that Stanley is relatively close to several small colleges in Eastern Washington, so invariably on weekends in the fall, there's a college group on a backpacking trip to the springs. It's also one of the few late season backpacking options in the area, period, so it draws other groups as well. Even given its busyness this time of year, I recommend it. 

After a relaxing hike in, soak, and hike out, Jen and I stopped for dinner at the Lochsa Lodge on the way home, where the food was good as always. All-in-all, a great day.

If you go: don't miss the right-hand fork in the trail just after the 4 mile mark, after which the springs are about 1/2 mile.

Jen in the upper pool at Stanley Hot Springs.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Wolverine and Carmine Peaks, Swan Front

Self-portrait, looking north from Wolverine Peak in the Swan: Carmine Peak is in the foreground, and Holland Peak is the big one in the distance.
September was a big (almost overwhelming so) month for many things, including climbing peaks. Summer-like weather continued throughout the month, and I was lucky enough to get into the high peaks of our local ranges multiple times. The only one of those trips I've yet to write about is the one I made to Wolverine and Carmine Peaks on the Swan Front. These are the first two peaks along the Front south of Holland Lake. They are very accessible -- in terms of mileage and route finding -- from Clearwater Lake Road, but the route is quite steep, strenuous, and contains some class 3 climbing.  My GPS route can be found here, where you'll see that I ascended the west ridge of peak 8535, just south of Wolverine. From 8535, I then walked north to Wolverine and then on to Carmine. There was a bit of class 3 getting up to Wolverine and then again on the walk over to Carmine. For a better dog route, I left the south ridge of Carmine and traversed to the east ridge before ascending, but I could easily have stayed closer to the south ridge. 

I go to places like these, in part, for those moments, often towards the end of the day, when my mind stops churning and a sense of well-being pervades. Such moments are illusive for me, even in the mountains. I know that I'm not alone in this -- that countless others seek well-being and uplift in places like these.

The Missions in the morning with the Swan casting a shadow on the valley.

Along the ridge we walked up to 8535.

Once on the Swan Front, looking over to Wolverine.

Pudge and Wolverine.

The Missions from the summit of Wolverine Peak.
Looking back at Wolverine on the traverse to Carmine.

Carmine summit cairn.
Looking back at Wolverine.
Looking into the Bob from the Swan Front.
Pudge on Wolverine.
Pudge tired in the heat on Wolverine on the way back to the car.

From Clearwater Lake Road on the way out: the left-hand peak is Wolverine, and the right-hand peak is Ptarmigan Benchmark.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Finally Gray Wolf

The view north from Gray Wolf into the heart of the Missions.

For Missoula area folks that are drawn to high places, Gray Wolf Peak, in the Missions, looms large. Every time I drive up through Evaro on a clear day, it sits massive and beautiful on the horizon, and I think, "I've got to go and climb that!" In fact, it had become a bit of an embarrassment for me, with all of the climbing that I do, that I had yet to summit Gray Wolf. So on a clear day a while back, I got it out of the way. Even without the summit bid, this is a beautiful hike, through the Riddell and Scenic Lake Basins, but the climb to summit is also one of the best in the area, with a couple of class 4 spots that require some route finding and a steady head. 

Sometimes I get into these places and think, "Pay attention, John!" And not just because danger is close at hand, but because the surroundings are so beautiful and unique, and I am there in that moment, and yet still often lost in my head. 

For directions to Gray Wolf, see the summitpost page for the peak.  
Looking east from the NE ridge of Gray Wolf over Gray Wolf Lake to the Swan Range.

Looking off toward the Swan from the NE ridge.
Looking north from the NE ridge of Graywolf.
Summit cairns on Gray Wolf.
Looking up at the NE ridge of Gray Wolf. You can see 'The Notch', where the 4th class spots are on the ridge.
McLeod Peak on the way down.