I've been trying to organize a week long trip each summer for the past few years. This year, it promised to be an action packed run through the inland northwest: northeastern Washington, north-central Idaho, and northwestern Montana. My plan was the most conservative yet: only one
mountain each day, with a rest day to be inserted whenever needed. This turned out to be quite realistic since each day was filled with excitement, even into the night when I was still driving to the next location sometimes.
My first two mountains were actually done in one day, however. Spokane Peak and Abercrombie Mountain
were both good warmups after I got off the plane. I camped at Mill Pond campground, just past Metaline Falls. It is quite convenient that both these mountains are relatively close to each other. The only difference for me between these two though was that I had warm, windless, and beautiful weather on Abercrombie, and not so beautiful weather on Gypsy
Immediately I couldn't find FR 22, perhaps because I didn't have a suitable Washington map with me. The rain wasn't quite pissing (living in UT, I don't have good descriptions for rain: in order of severity: off, drizzle, pissing, torrential), but it seemed miserable outside. My camping gear was drying in the back of the truck while I kept one eye on the road and another on the GPS moving map in the dash. Bravo for Thrifty! Anyway, I digress. I turned on a road just before FR 22 that was labeled as Highline Road/Clark Creek Lane. I followed it for a few miles until I found a junction with FR 2212. I was confused as to how I got here (thinking that FR 22 didn't exist!) but I continued on based on directions from Dean Molen and Bob Bolton. Everything turned out well and just as described -- the final few miles are high clearance type rolling roads with occasional deadfall. Good enough for me to be glad I rented the hulking behemoth that is the Dodge Durango. Like Abercrombie the day before, I saw no other vehicles at the trailhead, and warning signs that mentioned this is bear habitat. Excellent! The rain had stopped, but the clouds were looking like they were about to take a crap on me. No serious planning went into the rain gear selection for this trip. I was in shorts and one of those generic brands of stuffable raincoats.
I traveled on the Gypsy ridge trail for about 0.85 mile or so, then it started raining. In the wind and drizzle, I missed the uphill that I should have taken, based on Bob's and Dean's trip reports. At about 1.1 miles or so, I turned up the hillside and started some light bushwhacking through the wet bushes to the ridge. Once on the ridge, I saw that the ridge went up and down a lot.
My suffering was greatly exaggerated because of the rain. Normally, I'm a fair weather hiker. But, this being a special case where I've taken time off in summer (not quite so easy for me), flown up and rented an expensive-ass truck (since I expected to be 4x4ing!!?), I feel utterly commited to finishing this. As long as lightning doesn't come and nearly strike my position, or if I don't see a bear at the top that viciously swats me away and refuses to move, I'm going to finish this "easy" mountain.
I crossed 6617, side-hilled on the west side of 6853, then went over 7133 and 7033. Gypsy first came into view on 7133.
Ugg! I was climbing up the final boulder field on Gypsy and had my rain hood over my head. Tunnel vision was it for my line of sight. Oh yea, and I have glasses which were covered in water. My legs are soaked, my body is starting to get wet (non-breathable/leaking rain shell!!?). I raised my left leg wrong, right into a sharp rock. My knee got a deep cut about in the shape of a Phillips head screwdriver stab-mark. Actually, it was more like a Phillips head with three sides instead of four. In any case, within a few minutes, my left shin was a bloody, goey mess. Lucky for me, I wore black socks (you know, the Gizmo socks with the skull/crossbones?) so at least I wouldn't ruin those! I came to the top of Gypsy, and wallowed in the crappy weather, blowing wind, bleeding knee, and lack of spectacular views.
I started down without patching myself up since the rain was still blowing hard (pissing?) from the northwest. After re-crossing 7033 and 7133 with extreme caution on the slippery slopes, I took a break in a brief pause in the weather. I put on some tape and gauze since I find out now that my first-aid kit is mostly useful for paper cuts and minor blisters. I had the foresight to put in a roll of waterproof tape...whew. The waterproof tape and gauze held up for a whopping 30 minutes before peeling off. Wet legs don't really stick to anything except wet clothes and wet bushes.
I ended up going up over 6853 on the way back this time, which was actually quite a neat experience. The weather had improved just enough in my area for long enough to see some sights from the top of this little summit. I descended the hill just to the east of 6617, which I should have used on the ascent, and found the trail back to the car. Whew! The mosquitoes wasted no time, once the wind died down, to retrieve what blood I had left.
Just minutes after getting back into the truck, the rain shifted to torrential status and followed me all the way to Sullivan Lake Road. After turning left back on Sullivan Lake Road, I saw FR 22 right away seemingly less than a mile down the road. Duh. I headed towards Priest Lake to clean up and see my old house, then onto Sandpoint for dinner.
I guess I didn't get pwn3d too bad, but each day afterwards on the trip I had to double-bandage the knee. It only stuck for an hour or so each day. It is still a purple scar today, 6 months later.