Hibox Mountain with the dogs 2013-10-16
I was looking for a shorter hike close to home, and have had Hibox mountain in my sights for a while now. I have heard that access to the trailhead becomes difficult in early winter so now is a good time to get in before the snow stops you. I read several reports of people bringing dogs with them to the summit, so I loaded up my canine mountaineers and headed over the pass.
We left the Rachel Lake Trailhead at 7:45 and easily found the boot path after an opening with a clear view of the summit. As expected the bottom half of the route is filled with blowdowns and bushwhacking. Patches of slushy snow appeared around 5000 feet. where it was more than 2 feet deep I could kick in good steps but a lot of it was very shallow and slippery with just boots. There were two steep snowfields just below the ridge line where in ice axe would have been very helpful.
I imagine that whoever brought a dog to the summit must have done so with much more snow, unless the dogs were carried for the last several hundred feet. We attempted to find a dog friendly route around the Northwest face, but it only got steeper the farther we went. I ended up leaving them to roll around in the mellow snow banks on the north side while I quickly scrambled up to the top. I did not see a summit register but I also didn't spend much time poking around in the snow for it.
The sky was clear and the surrounding mountains were gorgeous, most of them dusted with snow. Lobox looked appealing but the dogs were pooped and the route looked a little sketchy so we headed down about 300 feet below the summit and took a short rest in a dry spot between a cliff and a small wind drift bank. Just before we got up to leave a pair of climbers past just below us on one of the large snow fields. These were the only people I saw all day.
I enjoyed the hike a lot more on the way down with better lighting. Several thick patches of maple trees have are turning brilliant yellows and oranges. Just before Trail 1313 I saw the biggest coral fungus I have ever seen, about the size of a football. I wouldn't recommend bringing a dog along on this one, unless you plan on carrying them for the final scramble to the summit.
4:30 to Summit
8.2 miles Round Trip