PreparationThis past September I was lucky enough to spend a week in the Sun Valley area with my parents. Growing up in Reno, my father was the first to encourage me to explore the outdoors. We spent a lot of time in the Sierras, climbing peaks in the Tahoe and Carson pass areas, as well as the desert peaks to the east. I learned to love topping out on a peak with no point higher than me for miles. But even more I learned to love wilderness and isolation. I wanted to begin paying back my father by taking him to some of my favorite areas in my new state.
My parents now live at sea level, so the week began slowly, with my mother, father and myself taking a stroll to the top of Norton peak in the Smokies. Due to its closeness to Ketchum and relatively easy access, this is one of the more popular hiking trails in the area, and it's gorgeous. On the top we spied several mountain goats hopping around on steep scree slopes seemingly in defiance of gravity. The view is something else. You can easily pick out Castle peak, most of the Pioneer crest and much of the Sawtooths.
The next few days were much the same, with hikes in the Boulders and Sawtooths. After these days of aclimatization and energizing, we decided to attempt Hyndman that Thursday.
The climbWe got a late start. Unless I'm VERY motivated, I don't rise early. After eating and shouldering our packs, driving to the trailhead and layering on the clothes, we hit the trail at around 9.
Now, although it's essentially a walk-up, Hyndman is still a long day. You gain just over 5,000' and it's about 12 miles round trip. The first leg is a relatively gentle slope. We made our way up the trail until we reached the first steep section. At this point, we were greeted by the impressive face of Cobb peak looming in front of us.
We had also made our way out of shade so stopped to peel off layers and slather on the sunscreen.
Here we turned and began the first steep climb out of the canyon. This climb seems almost designed; it gives you a warm-up section before hitting you with the steep. We made our way up the climb and into a shallow bowl that holds a lake only during the wet times of year. This being fall, the only tenants of the area were dry grass and a few stands of pine.
Another relatively gentle section and then the next heavy climb. Here we passed over the creek and under the branches of the pines hugging the shores of the creek. It was also here that a squirrel chattered and attempted to bean us with some nuts. I guess we were too close to his stash! After this section we made our way into a high meadow and source of the creek. An impressive ammount of water (for Idaho) flows out of this drainage. Here we were able to spot the rest of the route in its entirety. Here is also where my mother decided her day had ended. All things considered, I can think of many worse places to spend an afternoon.
The slog begins here. The route crosses the meadow and winds its way through a rolling rock slope with occassional boulders and outcropings. From the meadow to the saddle between Hyndman and Old Hyndman is a longer walk than it looks. This section seems to go on and on, but we did finally clamber to the saddle, which seems like a gateway to magnificent Wildhorse canyon guarded by the twin sentinels of Hyndman and Old Hyndman.
We made our may up the ridge the final 1200' or so and stepped onto a summit framed by a beautiful blue sky.
Looking back down the ridge is to take in a magnificent view of the southern Pioneer mountains.
My father later told me that this was the most tired he had ever been in the mountains. (I attribute this to his low-altitude domicile). But this was one of the most rewarding trip I've ever had in the mountains. We don't often get a chance to repay our heroes and influences, even a little. And since Reinhold Messner is not coming to Idaho any time soon and Arthur Ashe is dead, my father is the greatest influence I have. He shared with me his love of mountains. I showed him how successful he was.