Thunderbolt Ridge


Sometimes things don't work out quite like you expect.

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

The plan involved a 10-mile day with four highpoints. Hard, but (possibly) doable.

Things were looking good: fairly low temps, sunshine. I put it in 4WD for this axle-deep mud hole, but just around the corner the gate was locked.

So I went back across the mud hole and parked, knowing that the approach just got 3 miles longer. For some reason I had changed my mind at the last minute and NOT brought my mountain bike. Time to reassess today's goals.


Well, it's an explore, right? So off we went up the Cabin Creek road. The canyon with the trail is up there somewhere.

As I hiked along, I kept hearing this mysterious rustling. But I couldn't see what was making it. I finally determined it was the hi-tension wires overhead buzzing. Not something I normally experience in the mountains.


There's not a lot of water in the creek, but it looks to be pretty powerful.


Uh oh. A ford. I was expecting a culvert or perhaps a bridge?

I had to call Ruby back, as she was preparing to 'wade' this. It wasn't a terribly long thrash up the creekside debris to find a log that let us cross.

Except now we were on the east (wrong) side of the creek.....


Sure enough, in about half a mile we were confronted with another creek crossing, flowing fast and more than dog deep.

This one had no logs nearby, and upstream was super-thick willows. As I walked back down the road, I contemplated crossing back to the other side and bushwhacking back up. But it was a morass of flood debris, boulder-sized talus slopes, and other stuff that I wouldn't put my dog through.


So trying to salvage the day, I opted to try bushwhacking straight to our first highpoint (refer to the map at the bottom of the page). That involved climbing an extremely steep, brushy hillside for 1200' in blazing sun. This is after about 600' of that.


I was relieved to get to the sloppy, wet, and slippery snow because at least it was burying the buck brush. Sort of- I still poked through occasionally, even on my snowshoes.

And did I mention it was hot?


Side-hilling did not work well. The snow was too slippery. But the views were great.


Looking back to the way from which we had come.


The GPS said the summit was near.



Unfortunately, I was already running low on water, so lunch wasn't going down well.

That's Thunderbolt Mountain behind us.

And zoomed in, there's the lookout. Trailhead

Wonderful views up here.

There's the Sawtooths. In the bigger version, I can clearly identify a number of peaks.

And now on our descent (ridge walk and loop coming up!) looking north (and to the left of Thunderbolt) at Sister Creek Peak and Goat Creek Peak. Trailhead
Looking north and down the South Fork of the Salmon. Trailhead
From where the ridge turns to follow the canyon, this is looking back at our peak. Trailhead
And this is looking down the ridge I intended to follow. Snowshoes are a plus. All the ups and downs are not. Trailhead
From about where the snowshoes came off, this is looking across the Salmon at last weekend's route up Dollar Creek Ridge. Trailhead
Then came a fairly heinous bushwhack down steep hillside covered in buck brush intermingled with downed trees from the 1985 fire. All in all it went pretty well, except that on my ninth million tree, I vaulted onto a hidden log and painfully rolled my ankle. Fortunately, after a few minutes I was able to hobble the rest of the way down to the road, and it wasn't too far from there back to the truck. Trailhead




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