I have just a few things to add to the other reports that might be interesting and helpful.
First of all, my report on the 3 miles of 4wd road to the creek crossing. I don't have much experience on this kind of road but it did not seem very rough to me. The steepness was not much of an issue for my Explorer. Basically you just have to go slow to avoid hitting bottom. We did meet another car going the other direction once and it is a bit of a challenge to pass. Fortunately the other car was a Jeep and could go up on the side quite a bit.
I measured the road at 2.8 miles, about 1k vert., and it took about 30 minutes. Obviously this is a good investment unless you want an extra 2 hrs (roundtrip) of hiking on a road. It seemed that the road was indeed easier after the creek if you wanted to drive further.
At the point that the last long switchback of the road heads away from the mountain we got off the road and followed a faint trail toward the ridge on the right of the peak. At one point it looks like there is no trail across a dirt/small rock side to get to the ridge, but there actually is one so you do not have to go up to the subsummit on the right.
This is the hillside that had the rock hounds.
I talked to one of them about his findings and he showed me a nice aquamarine he had found in only 20 minutes!
About the scenery...it was not as lush and wet as I expected but perhaps that is because it was September. But on the other hand there are more interesting rocks/cliffs than I expected, though they are optional for the ascent. We stayed on top of the ridge on the return to have a bit more fun, but it is not even close to a scramble.
The top section after the rocky ridge is pure talus for 500 feet vertical. But if you stay on the trail that crosses it then it is fine.
Certainly this is one of the easiest 14ers in terms of effort to climb.
On top we noticed some birds jetting around at crazy speeds and direction changes, apparently catching bugs. I later studied and concluded that these were white-throated swifts
. They probably are there only because of that short section of rocky ridge. It was pure entertainment watching them master the strong winds. In my view this is clear evidence of the awesome design skills of God!
We descended down a prominent gully from just below the rocky part of the ridge. It seemed like it would cut a lot of time and distance. On the way down we were looking for treasure in the form of gems. We found a few cool ones including a clear, or perhaps smoky quartz, and some topaz, I think. But this descent was otherwise unpleasantly long and loose and we did not save any time, though it was more interesting than a road. Still it would be miserable to ascend this way as it is way too loose especially at the top section.
In spite of this being a pure walk up mountain without spectacular cliffs or rocks I think I will remember it for some of it's unique attributes including gems and swifts.
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