SP’er Dean and I were on a week long County Highpointing trip. The previous day , August 4, 2007, we were on Diamond Peak in Butte County. Today we are in Bonneville County trying to get to the top of Mt. Baird.
The previous evening we drove in and car camped at the Little Elk Creek Trailhead . Early this morning we were up and hiking up the trail. The trail climbed up the drainage through an area that was mostly closed in and kind of brushy. It looks like the creek carries a lot of water in the spring, but now it was nearly dry. The trail starts at about 6,000 ft in elevation and gains about 1,400 ft before entering a wide beautiful valley that is covered with wildflowers.
We took our time here and enjoyed the valley as the trail climbed up to about 8,800 ft in elevation. Here the trail branched and we took the right branch towards Mt. Baird. This trail soon petered out as we got close to the northwest ridge of Mt. Baird. We knew where we wanted to go, so we just crossed through the grass over to the ridge.
The ridge ends in a rocky steep step about 15 ft tall. Climbing this wouldn’t have been too difficult, but I wanted to find an easier route. I went around the right side of the ridge and found another place to go up. As it turned out, it would have been easier to go up the end of the ridge. We struggled up the wrong way and were soon on top of the ridge. The ridge was easy walking for the most part, but we did have to make our way up another rocky area and I again chose a more difficult route over the rocks.
This ridgeline gets steeper the further you go. At about 9,600 ft we were climbing what someone called Class 3 dirt. It was steep and I was glad it was dry. The alternative would be to bushwhack through some short fir trees and brush on the south side of the ridge. We finally got to the top of the ridge, but now we had to find our way up the talus covered south slope of the summit block. It is steep here also, but there are climber’s trails through the tough section. Dean and I each chose a different route. I don’t think he wanted to follow me up another ugly rocky climb.
When we reached the broad summit, we had great views in most directions. It could have been better, but there were forest fires west of here and the wind was blowing smoke into our area. We had lunch and enjoyed the views. Soon it was time to head down. We picked a better route down in the rocky areas and were soon in the nice valley below.
As we descended the frequent afternoon thunder clouds formed. By the time we were on the lower portion of the trail it hailed on us a little. At the trailhead, a couple campers had set up camp. This nice hike was just under 10 miles, took about 7.25 hours and we had about 4,100 in elevation gain. Our next stop is Meade Peak the county highpoint for both Bear Lake and Caribou counties.
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