Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mt Headley hike

Saturday, July 23, 2016, Patti, Joyce and I hiked to the top of Mt Headley in the Cabinet Mountains.  This was the last of the hikes with Patti before she moved to Wisconsin.  Over the past few weeks we had done a hike in most of her favorite areas around here:
  1. Glacier Park (Red Eagle Lake)
  2. Southern Swan Mountains - with a good view of the Mission Mountains (Upper Holland and Sapphire Lakes)
  3. Northern Cabinet Mountains (Cedar Lakes)
  4. and now the southern Cabinet Mountains with this hike to Mt Headley.

I don't remember it taking us almost three hours to get to the trailhead.  Between the company present and the drive along the Clark Fork valley from Plains to the trailhead must have warped time.

The hike was 8 miles long round trip.   We started our hike at the trailhead at Vermilion Pass where there was plenty of area to park your vehicle.  At Vermilion Pass the elevation was 6026 ft.   Mt Headley is at 7429 ft. The elevation change was 1403 ft.  Mt Headley ranks as the 1266th highest mountain in Montana.

Prominence is defined as the elevation of a summit relative to the landscape surrounding it.  Apparently Mt Headley is ranked #27 in prominence in Montana with 3716 ft of prominence.  I didn't remember Mt Headley being so prominent - maybe because we started the hike so high and only had 1403 ft of elevation gain.  Then I remembered looking down on a small plane flying below when standing on Mt Headley.  I have a 10 second video of that.

I got this photo from the Internet.

As we drove to Vermilion Pass we passed by this waterfall.  I am not sure the creek's name.  Maybe Graves Creek?

Here is a 27 second video of the falls:

The view off to the northern side at the start from Vermilion Pass.

The trail forked here.  With no signs we weren't sure which way to go.  This is the view of the left fork.  This was not the trail to the top of Mt Headley.   If you look back to the photo with the labels "start" and "Mt Headley", I believe the following photo view is the same as the snow covered mountains on the left side of the earlier photo.

Mt Headley is the high point on the right side of the following photo.

Patti and I had hiked to Cabin Lake in July 2015:

Views from the top of Mt Headley.

Looking NW towards the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area.  Earlier in the week Patti and I were at Cedar Lakes in this area and I don't remember the mountains being so tall.

Apparently this is a lookout on top of Priscilla Peak.

Too bad Patti moved away.  If she was still here the Priscella Peak lookout would have been a future hike for us.  That is how we explored the Whitefish Range: hike to the top of a mountain, look over at another mountain, see something and plan a future hike to that mountain.

Parts of the trail were brushy.  The brush was still wet from the previous night's rain.  Patti is wringing out her soaked socks once we were at the top of Mt Headley.  Patti had a second dry pair of socks and on the hike back down the mountain the brush was dry.

Joyce.  A pretty good hiker for someone around 80 years old and who had knee replacement surgury back in January.

Here is a 57 second video of the views from the top of Mt Headley:

For more (better) photos of Mt Headley:

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes

On Tuesday July 19 Patti and I hiked to Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes and most way up Dome Mountain.  Even though Patti, Lynda and I had hiked the Upper Holland / Sapphire Lakes loop two days earlier on Sunday (and Patti and I were still recovering), Patti had a free day waiting for the movers to come pack up her stuff for her move to Wisconsin and she wanted to go on a hike.  So did I.  I reminded Patti of her interest in going on the Cedar Lakes hike with me as she was very impressed with the lakes when she did the hike a few years earlier with Mary.

So at 7 pm on Monday we decided to hike to Cedar Lakes.  A last minute thing and too late to get more people to join us, especially on a weekday.

Cedars Lakes is in the Kootenai National Forest in the Cabinet Mountains west of Libby, Montana.

The distance we hiked was 15 miles.

We started at an elevation of 2997 ft and the highest elevation we hiked was 6941 ft.  The elevation gain/loss overall on the hike was 4157 ft. 

We hiked for 7 hours and 4 minutes and stopped and enjoyed the scenery for 2 hours and 15 minutes.  Our total time from start to finish was 9 hours and 19 minutes.  A good day of hiking.

Overall the weather was good.  We were happy to have the shade of the trees on the climb up to protect us from the hot sun.  Clouds came as we hiked back to Patti's car and a brief rain shower with large raindrops got us wet.  The thick tree canopy didn't keep us dry.

Between the distance and  the elevation we both were tired at the end of the hike and happy to be back to the car. 

The Forest Service Road to the trailhead is in excellent condition. There was ample parking at the trailhead.

The trail mostly follows along Cedar Creek.   The thick cedars and water reminded me of western Washington.

The hike was a steady climb to both Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes.  The trail was very clean all the way up and at no point did we lose the trail (though the junction with Upper Cedar Lake isn't marked, its fairly obvious).  

There were a good number of groups of downfallen trees.  Most all were cut allowing for easy passage.  The exception was the spur trail to Lower Cedar Lake.  None of the downfall was cleared and we had to search to  find a way around the trees to reach the lake.

Huckleberries were all along the trail, with the majority being after you pass the Wilderness boundary. 

The trail to the lower lake was mostly in the trees with good shade.  To the right of the trail is the young regrowth after a previous forest fire which allows for some open views of Scenery Mountain and later Grambauer Mountain that rises up from the trail.

When hiking between Lower and Upper Cedar Lakes we met a father, son and their dog who had been staying at Upper Cedar Lakes.  The dog growled at us when they approached us but the dog didn't do anything.

The dog had his own pack.

At the Upper Cedar Lake we talked a while with a grandfather hiking with his grand-kids. He grew up around Libby but now lives in eastern Washington.  He seemed to be enjoying the hike more than the grand-kids.

Granddad, grand kids, and Giant Patti.

Above Upper Cedar Lake we hiked up and around the backside of the shoulder of Dome Mountain.  On the backside was a short bridge over a steep deep drop.

The view from near the bridge of an unnamed lake in another valley.

For 24 more photos from our hike:

Video of Cedar Creek  (1:35 long):

Video of Lower Cedar Lake (22 seconds):

Video of Upper Cedar Lake (30 seconds):

Video on Dome Mountain of both lakes (36 seconds):