Sleeping Deer


A big look at the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

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

Tom and I had arranged to visit the Gospel Humps, but then we changed to the Sleeping Deer area, which is buried in the Frank Church wilderness about 40 miles west of Challis.

After making it to the sign, it seems like the drive will take forever. But take heart; the worst part of the road is now behind you.

After driving past the Twins, we stopped for a lunch break. Sleeping Deer is visible in the distance. Trailhead

And here it is zoomed in.

If you look closely, you can also see bits of the crazy road, winding its way over and around the ridge lines.


Speaking of the crazy road, it is pretty good, but narrow with few spots for turnouts.

And it passes through a lot of burn. Bring your chainsaw.

Our first peak of the day was to an old lookout foundation on Split Creek Point, the peak on the left. Trailhead
Then through a map reading error on my part, we hiked up to another highpoint on the ridge that was NOT a peak. When we got there we were able to correct our error and drive to the next highpoint visible here, Peak 9304. Trailhead
Summit. Trailhead

We then finished the drive out to the trailhead. It sits about 500' above gorgeous Rock Lake. About a half-mle before you get to the trailhead, there is a wide pullout, offering this view of Sleeping Deer.

Also at the pullout is a hard-to-see sign, indicating a trail down to the lake.


From the trailhead, it's a mile out to a trail junction on a saddle, then another mile up to the lookout.

The views from the lookout are awesome. The panorama below is looking northerly toward our objectives for tomorrow. BIG country.

After our long day, we camped in the aforementioned pullout because there was a weird religious group from Texas (we asked, but couldn't get a clear explanation) with four pickups (and just 7 people?) clogging the trailhead. What the heck?

The next morning, we repeated our hike out to the junction, this time turning right and traversing a huge talus slope below the lookout. Trailhead

We were heading for Martin Mountain, something between 7 and 9 miles each way, depending on who you ask.

This photo was taken on our return, but seems to fit better here despite the 'extra' sun. Gorgeous view back to the lookout. There is a lake just behind the photographer.

We would look back at the lookout all day, trying not to think about the miles that were adding up as we moved the opposite direction.

A little farther along, and you can see the lake mentioned previously. Trailhead
After passing a few more lakes, we started the climb up to Woodtick Summit. Martin Mountain is behind the mountain in the gap. That is probably Peak 9553. Trailhead
This is looking back at 9553, with Woodtick Lake below. Even from this elevation, we could see fish jumping. Trailhead

After all that trail work, it was fun to see that Martin would give us a short scramble to play on.

Tom's GPS put this hike at about 8.2 miles so far.

So time to head back. That's 9553, our next peak for the day. If you look at the right side, you can see our trail traversing the shoulders. Trailhead

From 9553, this is the view back to Sleeping Deer. We didn't stay long because the summit was covered in flying ants.

Some time later, much later, we made it to the car for about 16.5 miles car-to-car. Then began the long drive back toward Challis. But not all the way, because there were more peaks to climb.

This is Sheldon Peak on our first day, while we still had sun and clear air. It looked cool, even though it was going to be a steep scree slog. Trailhead
So after a night in one of the campgrounds (bring lots of water- there isn't any accessible from the road), we got up early and drove back to do Sheldon. Here's that scree I mentioned. Click for a bigger version, where you will be able to see Tom. Trailhead
After Sheldon (although this was taken from atop Sheldon), we visited Peak 8874, a List of John peak, with insufficient impressiveness for me to even bring my camera. But a peakbagger's gotta do what a peakbagger's gotta do. It's about 310' of prominence and took just over 10 minutes. Tom seems to be pointing at it, just in front of him with the road traversing its girth. Trailhead

Then before we got off the ridge home, we did one final peak, 9725, one of the highpoints here.

Two very tired old dudes then clambered into the rig and headed home.

Huge, impressive area. I highly recommend taking an extra day or two and backpacking in to some of the lakes.


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