Garden Peak


A little exploration nets a new local peak with lots of gain.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

For years now, I had wanted to walk the ridge between the North Fork and South Fork of the Payette. With a dubious weather outlook for the mountains but a need to train, the Tom Tom Club decided to give this walk a go. It was a decided success, and a great workout.

We left the car at the South Fork bridge at 8am and immediately started up very steep terrain. It's about an 800' climb to this view of the highway department and boating parking lot.


When we crested the first knoll on the ridge, we could see the next false summit, but the further hillside was shrouded in fog. Most of the ridge walk was on ground like this: short, green grass.



But a couple of the smaller false summits involved some scrambling. Also some route finding, but mostly you just look for the elk tracks and follow them.


After spending quite a bit of time negotiating the ridge, we lost a lot of our elevation just in time to start the climb to Garden Peak in earnest. The summit is not in view, even if the fog had not been there.

About the time we got to what you see at the top of this picture, the fog changed to rain. Brian felt right at home.

After grinding up the very steep hillside for several thousand feet, we hit continuous snow so we put on the snowshoes. Approaching

The ridge climbs fairly continuously, but near the top it starts to dipsy-doodle unless you want to really do a lot of circumnavigation around the upper basin of Eddy Creek.

In addition, the summit was not in view, so we had to navigate by map and compass. As we neared what we thought was the top, the fog got serious and turned into blowing snow.


When we found that special spot where everything is down hill, the visibility was all of about 150 feet. But we were still all smiles.


Yes, this is our "descent."

We had more up to do on the way back to reverse our dipsy-doodle path. Tom and Tom kept checking their altimeters- mostly so they could give me a hard time about our underestimated (by me) elevation gain.


Naturally, after we had dropped off the top it cleared up.

But at least we now know what the place looks like.

In the foreground, that's Tom toiling up the last part of the "descent."


When we got back to dry land, the clouds lifted and we got this awesome view of the two forks of the Payette.

On our return, we dropped off the ridge to the South Fork on a dirt road, then walked the pavement back to the car. For those who only want to do the peak, driving up the dirt road (visible in the 4th picture from the top) makes for a substantial shortcut. But walking the ridge was one of the highlights of the trip, and would make a great hike all by itself.

Footnote: On hiking "The Peninsula" again, we found a cool return route. Instead of going all the way down to the pavement, look off to the right (south) for what appears to be an old road. We think it's the old South Fork wagon road. Follow this until you find an easy way to drop down to the pavement. Don't wait too long, though, or your options will evaporate.


Mr. Natural Home | 2009 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski