Hum Ridge


A most amazing place, Hum Ridge is also a challenge.

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

I have aspirations to thoroughly explore the Lick Creek range, possibly the most rugged area in the U.S. On this day I paid for my fascination.

John drove up from Boise to attempt the five peaks of the Hum Ridge, a very rugged ridge that lies between the North Fork of Lick Creek and Lick Creek itself. The plan was to hike through Hum Lake, but then I realized that the vertical change to drop into Hum Lake wasn't much different than going over Humdinger Peak, so I added a peak, making a total of six. What was I thinking?

We put one car at the bottom of the Split Creek trail, then departed from the Duck Lake trail head.

Here's John in the early morning, heading for Humdinger. That's the Hum Ridge behind him.

Humdinger is really fun, with lots of boulder scrambling and a few gendarmes. Here John drops down to bypass one of the gendarmes. It's more than hiking; there are a few granite boulders around. Trailhead

And we're on top, 90 minutes from the car. Feeling good and flying.

The morning was humid, and this route is in direct sunlight, so we were already sweating hard.


We sat for 20 minutes and enjoyed the morning. I had taken photos of the ridge from several angles from nearby peaks (South Loon, McCabe), but only for scenery. Now we were being analytical, trying to define our route.

Step 1: Head down to the saddle.


Step 2: Head up.

Repeat as necessary.

When we got to what, due to my focus on doing the ridge, I was calling Peak #1 (despite it being our second peak of the day), John got an eyeful of exposure. Trailhead

As usual with the peaks in this range, what looks impossible can usually be climbed if you work at it.

No standing here: to John's immediate right, it's about 400' to the deck.

OK, what's it look like getting to #2? Trailhead
Peaks 1 and 2, along with Humdinger and Foolshen, form a giant cirque with Hum Lake in the center. This is looking back at Hum, with Foolshen on the left and Humdinger prominent on the right. Long way off? Trailhead

But #2 is still a long way, as well. And #3, on the left, even farther.


That distance seemed notable particularly when we ran into Downfall Hell, 1st edition. This edition included a steep sidehill and random boulders. For some reason, all the trees fell perpendicular to our path of travel.


The top of #2 gave us some good news: the descent toward #3 didn't look too bad. John was smiling.

But he was also thinking hard (see below) about how to get up #3. Meanwhile, I was sucking back water as fast as I could, battling the feeling of dehydration.

After an easy descent, with actual dirt in places and a total absence of downfall, we were then faced with more boulders. This is generally really clean granite and most of the boulders are solid. Big fun. Trailhead

Summit of #3. But remember, this is actually our fourth peak for the day. The smiles were still there, but not quite as strong.

It was 3pm, and I was dehydrated. Still sweating profusely. Not good.

We knew we still had a long way to go. And we were both tired. But not too tired to revel in the astonishing position. That's #4 behind us. #5 is hiding behind the right summit.

And this is looking back at where we had come. That's Ho Lake sitting in the basin between #1 and #2. Tons of fish jumping, if you think you have the stuff to get back in there. Trailhead

But back to our climb. The ridge between #3 and #4 helped us make up our minds. This one, we agreed, was not going to let us sneak through. We were going to have to drop off in a big way.

And we had no idea what the ridge out to #5 was going to be like. Probably steep and rocky. And the terrain map showed some steepness (click the link, then select "Slope Angle Shading" on the left).


With that, we decided to cut our losses and head down to the trail down the North Fork of Lick Creek.

At first our bail off the ridge went really well, including finding this unknown lake (it's not on the map).

As we headed downhill from the lake, we were now on terra incognita. The map seemed to indicate lower angle to the left. We followed descending ramps heading to our left, doing a little scrambling to move down each section. But there was a suspicious lack of trees (but a great view) just to our right. Then the ramps terminated and we were boxed in by a 100' drop. In desperation, we scrambled across the cliff through some brush and small trees, holding on for dear life. At last, we found a notch under a bush that allowed us to slither down to another ledge.


However, we still couldn't tell if our route would work until we had scrambled down for another 15 minutes. We didn't take any pics of our descent, but this is looking back after we finally knew we were down. Whew!

Our actual route is about mid-picture, behind the trees, but you get an idea of what we had faced.

We knew the trail wasn't too far away, but we still had to drop another 1000'. This is big country.


When we found the trail, we rejoiced. Easy going. Great views.

That lasted about 300 yards.

Then began a frustrating and exhausting trudge down 3 or 4 miles of some of the worst deadfall imaginable. And our legs were starting to cramp, so stepping up or over any given log brought the threat of a badly-knotted muscle. And there were a lot of logs.

Every now and again we'd find 100 yards of easy tread, then it would be buried and we were back to scrambling over logs and wading through bogs. With cramping legs. Downfall Hell #2.


Not that there was nothing to look at.

Note the slightly hazy appearance. The added humidity wasn't helping my heat issues. And it was warmer down in the trees, without any wind. Yuk.


When the trail finally leaves the heavily-forested creek area, it then climbs. Dang! What fresh hell is this?

From where we first found the trail, it was 5 hours to the car. Oh, that car looked good. Now, if I can just drive without getting leg cramps.

Final note: As much of a challenge as these peaks were, Hum Ridge #4 and #5 look even harder.

Final Final note: John, thanks for breaking trail and taking care of me.


Here's a few long views of Hum Ridge.

This one taken from South Loon looking south.

And one from McCabe Peak looking north. Trailhead


John's much more awesome trip report


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