Norton Peak 10,336 Feet
On Tuesday July 2nd, I received a voice mail for my dear friend Matt. He asked me on the message if I would like to go on a backpacking trip into the Sawtooth National Forest. With my heart pounding I called right back with shear excitement and asked him if we would be going over 10,000 ft? He said yes, Norton Peak in the Smoky Mountains. I immediately got on SP and pulled all the data from the South Route that was compiled by idahokid.
July 4th we set out in the convertible from Meridian about 10:30AM and got on the road to Ketchum. After arriving for what seems a lifetime, we did a very brave thing; we ate a Chinese Buffet and some quick browsing of Backwoods Mountain Sports. So we began the remaining 28 mile trek to the Trailhead to Norton Lakes.
We loaded our packs and began to hike up a fairly steep 2 miles to Lower Norton Lake, where we rested a minute and decided to proceed another ½ mile to Upper Norton Lake . It’s here where we decide to pitch our camp for three days. So much to do including getting to the top of Norton Peak in the AM.
July 5th we got a fairly lazy start to the day from our camp at 9101 feet. We hiked the switchbacks all the way up to the Saddle where there was a nice snowfield.
We heard voices coming up the trail behind us so we decided to wait. It was a couple from Hailey and their dog. Very nice folks, we asked if we could follow them up and they agreed. One thing I am learning about my new found love for hiking and attempting to get on top of mountains is the people are all very decent. I mean these are the kind of people you enjoy talking to after meeting them just minutes before.
We set out for the 307 more feet to the summit. Right on top of the summit ridge I got light headed and felt that the remaining 70 ft on ridge to the wooden marker and the summit register was not going to happen for me. I sat down drank some water and began to wonder what ever happened to the Green Beret who jumped out of aircraft at 30,000ft in the late 70’s. Why am I light headed? What a wimp!
Well I was assured by the couple that it takes time and practice. I am a beginner at this, quoting a SPer who I sought out for advice when I started this obsession in Feb 2008 “slowly work your way up to the harder stuff. The great thing about mountain climbing is your challenging yourself, yet you can share the experiences with others”.
So here I am at 10,261 feet above sea level, the light headedness departed and the couple and Matt return from the wooden well thing with the dog. I am happy with my accomplishment. I was later told that there were probably not too many 49 year olds above 10K in Idaho on this day. I know they meant well and it helped a little.
We began our decent and I wondered if I would have climbed up to the wooden well from the Saddle I probably would have made it (another lesson learned). Maybe having the exposure behind me instead of both sides would have eliminated the light headed thing.
I didn’t sign the summit register but I feel good about myself. It was 680 days ago I quit smoking due to some seroius health problems, now I am hiking in the wilderness and I am a happy person. I will be bagging some summits, hope to see some of you on top.
All my Best,