Getting to the topDennis and I had just completed a great time in Wyoming and Utah and felt that we wanted to at least get one or two more in Idaho on the way home. I had some friends who lived at the base of the Bonneville Mountain, the highpoint of Bannock County so we headed to their place as Dennis wanted to climb Bonneville first. I had already done Bonneville so I took the opportunity to chill with my friends and eat a leisurely breakfast while Dennis made his climb of Bonneville Peak a reality.
During the time that I was with my friends, they were curious as to what plans we had for the day. I mentioned that Dennis and I planned to go do
the highpoint of Bingham County, Blackfoot mountain, a 7550 footer that was about 70 miles from their place. When I suggested they come along, I was surprised when they jumped at the chance. "They" were my friends Dave and Keith, both very capable of doing a good ten mile hike, which this one would entail. Dave's wife was excited to hear that her husband would actually go hiking (normally he prefers a dirt bike or a quad runner) so she put together a nice lunch for us to take, which later turned out to be a very appreciated one. Keith, a quiet and very pleasant guy, Dave's brother in law, was always up to do something, be it a hike or riding a motorized piece of equipment. I should mention that Dave and I had done a lot of stuff together when he lived in Kennewick so it was good to get out and do something with him again.
Dennis made it back off of the mountain, none the worse for wear and said he was up to another good effort for the day (the guy could hike all day and well into the night if need be) and so with a bit of organizing and with Kim fixing Dennis some good vittles (she makes a great breakfast I can tell you), we were soon on our way northward. Dave rode with me and Keith was the map reader in Dennis's truck and we made our way through Pocatello and then Blackfoot as headed for our objective. Paved roads soon gave away to gravel and dirt roads and soon we were parked at the gate
that was our trailhead. (see SP page for more on directions to this gate).
The highpoint is located on a private ranch and the rancher is ok with hikers being on his property if they will contact him prior to going there. I had made several calls to Jason but never made contact although I did leave my information on his answering machine. (contact me if you want his phone number). I also left a note on my truck mentioning that I had tried to contact him and with that in place, the four of us grabbed our day packs and crawled over the gate. We walked up the road until we came to another gate and a corral set up that had a couple of travel trailers parked in a fenced off area with a gate leading up one jeep road(Miner Creek) and to the right, another gate at the exit to another jeep road. This was located HERE
It was here where we made a mistake. Instead of taking the left road, which we would return on later in the day and an easier route, we took the right fork and proceeded to go that direction. Evidently, in the trip report I had brought, the other folks had done it this way but it wasn't the easiest nor the shortest. In a trip report I saw later, Dan Robbins had gone on the left road, a better choice. As we walked up the road, we passed a couple beaverponds as a small stream made its way down the way, a little surprising considering the arid nature of this land. Although the map doesn't show it, this jeep road continued up to a point where we could see a ridgline with a fence on it and we headed for that fence. After crossing the fence, we found it best to actually go to the top of a small peak noted as 6613 on the Topozone map
Once on the rounded peak area, a vestige of an old road (shown on the map) continued straight north and we followed it to about this point HERE (topozone) where we proceeded to head down hill a bit and then cross a flat meadow area before working our way up the hill and towards the left side of Blackfoot BM mountain.
At first after leaving the meadow, we had to make our way through a grove of aspens, which were very close together and made route finding interesting for a couple of hundred feet. Soon we found ourselves on the
ridge which we followed most of the way up to the top ridge of Blackfoot itself. Each of us found our own way up and Keith found the best line as he didn't have to backtrack at all when he hit the ridge, he was dead on the summit cairn itself whereas I had to backtrack and drop some elevation to get to the right area. I (as usual) was the last to arrive and Dave and Keith were lounging around with Dave's back to the cairn itself.
Trusting in Keith's good instincts, we followed him back up to the lowest spot on the ridgline above the meadow and climbed over the barbed wire fence.
Dropping down on the other side Keith found a faint use path and down we went, with the path improving the further we went. We picked up the trail about here (topozone) Soon we were dropping elevation rapidly and I couldn't believe our good luck in finding this trail which we most likely would not have found even if we had come up Miner Creek to begin with. In fact if you look at the topozone link above, you'll see the 4wd road continues up and doesn't access the area where we found the meadow to be and you'd need to leave that road and scramble up brushy slopes to get to where you needed to be.
Our descent continued until we came to a small stream which we found an easy way across and then continued our hike back to the vehicles via the jeep road that you see on the map. We went back through the corral we had hit earlier in the day and at that point we had a bit more than a mile to go. Those lunches that Kim made up for us turned out to be dinner and were a blessing. I dropped Dave off in Pocatello where his wife met us and at 9p.m. I started the long drive for home, an 8 hour effort. Dennis went on to do Deep Creep Peak (Power COHP) and Cache Peak (Cassia COHP) the next day before he started for home.
Stat's on this hike
We hiked about 11 miles and gained a bit over 3000 feet.
Started at 1:20 p.m. we finished the day at 7:20
Summit at 4:30 Descent 2:20 minutes
six hours overall with most
of the time spent on the hike in.
If we had gone Miner Creek all the way,
we would have had 9 miles and 2500 feet of elevation gain.
A great group to hike with and excellent weather was a real blessing.
Dennis was on a roll, two cohp's on two days in a row to give him 4 more
done in Idaho. Of course, the five cohp's in Utah, two in Wyoming plus one other in Idaho combined to give him twelve for the week. Not a bad weeks work by anyone's measuring stick. I ended up with ten cohp's and two prominence peaks in the 8 days I had plus a repeat of another cohp and visits to Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks.
Idaho county highpointingIt actually started with the state highpointers who had completed all of the state highpoints and started looking for something else to do rather than repeat the same peaks over and over. One of them got a bright idea and came up with the idea of intentionally climbing the highpoint of each county and thus the concept of county highpointing was born. A book on the state summits in California really helped to push the concept there and books have appeared for the states of Utah and Colorado as well.
While it is considered that Washington might be the toughest state to complete thanks to the likes of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, Glacier Peak, Mt. Olympus and Bonanza Peak (and more), Idaho isn't far behind in the difficulty aspect. Sawtooth Sean has put together a nice SP page for Idaho that you can find HERE.
This page is a good place to start to get an overview and another great resource is found at www.cohp.org and this LINK will take you to the Idaho page. To date (2007), only three people have completed all of the counties, Bob Packard and Ken Jones co-completed the state in 2001 and then Idahoan Dan Robbins succeeded in 2004. Dan has a great resource that adds a lot more information on Idaho peaks and Idaho county highpoints on his neat page, Idaho Summits.(link)
Binham County is only one of 44 Idaho counties that has to be completed in order to join the above three individuals but it was a great little adventure and put us in a part of Idaho that we wouldn't have seen otherwise. From Grizzly bear country in the north to the high desert areas of southern Idaho, county highpointing will give a great tour of the state that you might not get otherwise. Bingham county was my 27th completed one and I'm looking forward to the other 16 1/2. He/She Devil count for one half in Idaho's Idaho County.
County highpointing can become an addiction and getting out and visiting these often hard to get to and remote places can be part of the cure. I started doing this three years ago and now have done 186 of them, mostly in the west. Here is my map of the fun I've had since 2003. No, my wife hasn't divorced me and sometimes she comes along to cheer me on. Want to see a map that will blow your socks off: Bob Packard, the premier county highpointer - <b>his map
A bit about Bingham CountyThanks to Wikipedia for the following:
"Bingham County was created January 13, 1885. As of the 2000 Census the county had a population of 41,735 (2005 estimate: 43,739. The county seat is Blackfoot.
Bingham County comprises the Blackfoot, ID Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Bingham Country is named after either Medal of Honor recipient and US Representative Henry H. Bingham or Elisha E. Bingham, who won a race from Blackfoot to Boise and to earn the right to have the county named after him.