MacLeod and Corner Peaks-- Narrative and Photo Trip Report
Call me crazy, but seeing a golden eagle soar along about 10 yards overhead paralleling your route as you are traversing an exposed ridge after a nice snow climb to an unnamed peak in a lightly used range in one of the world's greatest wilderness complexes pretty much makes the day, no matter what else happens-- including a skin-soaking thunderstorm-- a great one.
(Pause for breath)
And that was just one of the highlights. It was a great day of mountaineering, easily among one of my best ever.
The route had variety and challenge. The scenery was a revelation.
But it was about the people, too, and the lack of them. From start to finish, I saw no one else aside from the members of my small party. And the small party was a great one. Present were the "Mikes"-- thephotohiker (Mike H) and wyopeakMike (Mike F)-- and Biglost and one of his sons.
It was the third summer that Mike H and I had gotten together for some climbs. We seem to make a pretty good team, and I was glad he was willing to forsake his beloved Bitterroots for a few days to join me in Wyoming. Mike F and I had never met before, but we had a common love of Yellowstone country and had talked about climbing together for over a year. And Biglost was someone I'd been hoping to meet for about three years; things almost worked out in 2007, but the stars aligned better for 2009.
Considering how well-liked Biglost was on this site before he left it last year, how much he was missed when he was gone, and how happy many people were when he returned, I felt almost as though I was meeting a celebrity. Telling people "I plan to get together with Biglost for an outing this summer" seemed a lot like name-dropping!
We met along Granite Creek in the Gros Ventre Range early on July 4. The plan was to climb Corner Peak but to go along a good unmarked trail Mike F knew instead of hiking up Swift Creek as most people probably would. This other route, which was also more direct, would take us into the pristine wilderness around MacLeod Lake before we would leave the trail and climb.
Our party of five turned into three parties of two, two, and one. Biglost and his son were content just going to the lake and back. Mike H had left his sunglasses in the car and did not like the prospect of climbing about 1000' of snow on a sunny day too much as a result, so he turned back at the lake, too, though he had something more in mind; he wanted to get back to the TH and take the Granite Highline Trail to access a high, open ridge we had studied the day before from Deer Ridge.
Mike F and I climbed the unnamed peak just east of the lake-- we agreed to call it "MacLeod Peak" (quite creative of us)-- and then weighed what looked like the fun and challenge of the ridge traverse to Corner Peak against what looked like deteriorating weather.
We gambled and won. Long before the weather turned nasty, we summitted Corner and had descended via a ridge and basin to Swift Creek. We endured about half an hour of rain and loud thunder, but we were in the trees by the time it hit.
Back at the TH, we regrouped. Mike F had to leave to catch fireworks and what he said was his wife's great cooking (next time, Mike, invite her along). The rest of us retired to Biglost's campsite for a tasty dinner of elk strips and genuine Idaho potatoes. Good stuff, and my first taste of elk.
Mike H and I headed off for Hoback River, ready to climb Hoback Peak in the Wyoming Range the next morning. Biglost and his son packed up to head home, ready to ruin Mrs. Biglost's peace and quiet by returning a day ahead of schedule.
Gentleman, thanks again for joining me. It was both a pleasure and an honor being in the mountains with you. Special thanks to Mike F for sticking with me on the full loop that day; I would have gone alone if necessary, but I enjoyed your company and appreciated the extra set of eyes for assessing route conditions.
Let's do this again sometime...I do hope to be out that way again next year.
Photo Trip Report
The following pictures show the day's climb in chronological order. Each picture has useful route information in its caption; please click on the picture if you are interested in reading it. Because of the side-by-side display, you may not be able to see each picture fully if your screen is not at least 15.4 inches, but you can view the pictures by clicking on them.