Picket Mountain

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A clear day and November lighting in the Sawtooths provides awesome sight-seeing from Picket Mountain.

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I got up at 4 to make our planned meeting with John in Banks at 6. But I was most of the way to Cascade when I realized I had not packed my boots. A brief consideration of any McGyver solution had me turned around. sigh

So we arrived at Grandjean about 45 minutes later than planned. Oh well. The sun still wasn't up, and it was in the low 20s. Hands in pockets.

 

Trailhead

The sun hadn't even hit all the peaks yet.

Sunrise on the Pioneers
And we were crossing Baron Creek, hoping the frost on the log didn't put one of us into the drink. Sunrise on the Pioneers
Crossing Goat Creek, just the soles of our boots got wet. John looks casual here because fatso had already stress-tested the little stick we were crossing on. Sunrise on the Pioneers

Well, the sun is up now. Just not where we were yet.

Sunrise on the Pioneers
Then it was time to wade the South Fork. It wasn't too bad. Arriving on the other side, I could still feel one or two toes. Sunrise on the Pioneers
We hung our shoes in the sun. We didn't expect them to dry out, but we were hoping they wouldn't be frozen solid. Sunrise on the Pioneers
After walking almost 4 miles, we finally started to get some gain. Sunrise on the Pioneers
And some views. This is a few of Grandjean Peak's 5 summits. Sunrise on the Pioneers
The gain continued. The trail was a frozen mess thanks to some horses' hoof prints that froze, leaving a lumpy, unforgiving surface. Sunrise on the Pioneers
The trail is steep and unrelenting, switchbacking up the ridge as it moved in and out of the sun. If you are unhappy with how you're dressed now, wait a hundred yards. Sunrise on the Pioneers
When you get to the ridge top, the trail forks. Sunrise on the Pioneers

And the snow gets deeper. Perhaps a foot deep?

We thought we could see the summit. Not.

And the GPS was pointing to the marked peak, which on closer examination is NOT the highpoint.

Sunrise on the Pioneers
So by the time we did the grand tour and found the actual highpoint, we had done some extra up-and-down and busted trail for about a mile. Sunrise on the Pioneers

We had seen a beautiful photo of the Rakers, advertised as a benefit of this outing on Outdoor Project. We were near the top, and still could not see them. We were feeling like we had been duped. But when you get to the absolute top, you finally get this view.

 

Sunrise on the Pioneers

This is the "back side" of Warbonnet.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

Tohobit.

 

Sunrise on the Pioneers

My nemesis, Merritt.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

Cony, Elk, and all sorts of other peaks.

And a wonderful view back down to the South Fork, including a lot of our trail (click to zoom).

Sunrise on the Pioneers

The wade across the South Fork wasn't nearly as painful in the afternoon sun, and the other creek crossings were also successful. Somewhere near Baron Creek we got this view of Baron Peak.

And then, despite it being only a little after 2pm, we were in the shade (and sinking temperatures) the rest of the way back to the car.

It's always a treat to get in a peak in November, and the views today were special. John thought the air was especially crisp (it was) but I think the low angle of the sun had something to do with it, too.

Sunrise on the Pioneers

Map

 

John's trip report

Sunrise on the Pioneers

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