Montana Outdoors

August 4, 2011

Graves Peak (Attempt #1)

Filed under: Hiking — Tags: , , — montucky @ 10:18 pm

Early in July a friend suggested a trek to a mountain peak (Graves Peak) to which neither of us had been and I thought it a great suggestion. Unfortunately, we did not make the trip as we planned, but in mid July I set out to do it alone. This is a series of photos of my effort, a very pleasant excursion even though I did not reach the peak that day. Starting from Vermillion Pass, the route would involve about three miles by mountain bike on an old logging road followed by a hike of a mile or two to the top of Graves.

Graves Peak

Graves Peak in the distance.

Vermilion Peak

Vermilion Peak, photographed from Vermilion Pass.

North of Vermilion Pass

The road north of Vermilion Pass sill had snow banks along it.

Vermilion Pass

Vermilion Pass: a little storm could be seen in the offing.

Vermilion Pass

North of Vermilion Pass

Scenery to the north of Vermilion Pass.

Logging road from Vermilion Pass

The start of the old logging road.

Logging road from Vermilion Pass

This was typical of the old road: it had not been maintained for many years and small firs have gotten a good start in reclaiming it. In other places it was necessary to push through thick growths of Alders.

Graves Peak

Graves Peak from the start of the trail.

Graves Peak trail

The turn-back point; snowed out! This would be the start of a mile or two of fairly steep trail, but with that much snow on the trail and moderately heavy rain beginning to come down, the rest of the trip was postponed for another day. (I didn’t get this darned old by being completely foolhardy!)

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52 Comments »

  1. Wonderful views, great photos and nice bike..I need to dust mine off and go for a ride..

    Like

    Comment by Roberta — August 4, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

    • By all means, dust it off! I have really been enjoying this one. I ride 10 miles a day now for conditioning and it has rekindled the joy of riding that I had when I was a kid.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 4, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

  2. Spectacular! My brother, sister and a friend are doing an overnighter in the Four Lakes Basin this weekend. My wife and I did it last year as a day hike, and it remains one of our favorite trips in the Inland Northwest. I’m excited to show off this stunning roadless area to others.

    Like

    Comment by Aaron — August 4, 2011 @ 11:26 pm

    • It should be very pretty there this weekend. We had a pretty good storm with heavy rain here today but I think it’s clearing up. I also love that area!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:02 pm

  3. Great series of photos. I think you were right to turn back there – I get more cautious the farther I get from the roads.

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    Comment by Mike — August 5, 2011 @ 3:49 am

    • Thanks Mike. The rain was the deciding thing. There will be another time!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:03 pm

  4. Great set of photos. Your bike is looking so cool. Especially I love the last photo. It is reminding something what happens here too every now and them.

    BTW, I’ll be off and will return after three weeks on Friday with a new post. My wife started her holiday and next Monday we are going to the North beyond far the Arctic Circle by our car. The trip is planned to last from 10 to 12 days.

    Like

    Comment by sartenada — August 5, 2011 @ 4:29 am

    • Thanks Matti. I hope you have a very enjoyable holiday and will look forward to seeing photos of it!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  5. Montucky: Now this is a post that carries us along with you on the hike to Graves Peak. Outstanding in trekking by your blog. The snow, alas, the snow stopped you. I like the progressive declension of road and trail as you attempted your ascent. That last photo of the snow hindering your hike is one I will remember.

    Like

    Comment by Jack Matthews — August 5, 2011 @ 5:24 am

    • Those are the pleasures of being in Montana’s mountains. I’m glad that the photos gave you a feel for the trip: I always hope that will be the case. Had the sky been clear I would have continued on further, but rain on the snow might have gotten sloppy. The snow was a treat for me too. Until today, we have not had rain for nearly two months and the grasses in our valleys are now brown and very dry. Today we had a thunderstorm with a good, hard rain!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:08 pm

  6. Wonderful photos! So now we have seen your bike, and your jeep. When will you post a photo of yourself so we can see what a real mountain man looks like! HA!

    Like

    Comment by Roberta — August 5, 2011 @ 6:28 am

    • Thanks Roberta. I have very few photos of myself, but perhaps I can find one and post it later.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:10 pm

  7. wow, awesome photos of your adventure! thank you for sharing with us.
    This really is a unique weather year with the snow lasting on and on.

    Like

    Comment by Tammie — August 5, 2011 @ 7:52 am

    • Snow at that elevation on the northern slopes, even this time of year is not too unusual for here after a good winter. We just ended a ten-year drought by having a wet winter followed by a wet spring. It is so good to see the high country enjoying all of the moisture!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

  8. You’re definitely not foolhardy, very adventurous, but not foolhardy! =) I don’t blame you one iota for biking & trekking those beautiful mountains… only live once, right!

    Like

    Comment by Tricia — August 5, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    • Right Tricia! At my age I really don’t know how many more good summers there will be and I want very much to spend every one I can enjoying the mountains and roadless areas.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

  9. Hi Montucky, Beautiful country. You were smart to be safe both with your bike and your feet! Oh I sure do like seeing pictures of snow as it is very hot and humid here today! Have a great rest of the day and evening and a super Saturday tomorrow!

    Like

    Comment by wildlifewatcher — August 5, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    • One of the things about hiking alone into the wild country is that one learns to be self reliant and prudent in most every aspect of back country travel. It is very hot here now in the valleys, but the high country is different!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

  10. A prettty place. What hauled the logs out that. Please tell me it was a tree farmer, and not a logging truck.
    You were wise to turn back. I assume we will eventually see the the view from the top.
    Hey, I love that Jeep!

    Like

    Comment by sandy — August 5, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

    • Quite a bit of that particular area was logged many years ago and many of the old roads still remain. It will be over a hundred more years before the country fully recovers. I hope to return before the end of summer, but there are several other places I want to visit too, one in particular into a roadless area that I have never seen that will be a challenge that I want to complete while I’m able. I’ve heard that it’s a beautiful trip!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:23 pm

  11. Beautiful scenery… and SNOW!!! Oh, what I wouldn’t give for a couple of inches of snow right now… It’s so hot here, that the water out of the cold tap is almost like bath water.

    Like

    Comment by thedailyclick — August 5, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

    • It’s really nice to get into the high altitude snow this time of year, although in stormy weather it can be very cold up there and staying dry is very necessary for safety’s sake. It’s something that one has to think about here any time of the year and one of the reasons that my pack is always pretty heavy!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:26 pm

  12. The peakbagging season in Montana is mighty short, isn’t it?

    Like

    Comment by Kim — August 5, 2011 @ 3:55 pm

    • It sure can be, Kim! Today for example might have been pretty interesting in the high country! (I assume you had some of the heavy rain that we did today.)

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:29 pm

  13. I can surely understand why you turned around. But would snowshoes and a parka have changed anything?

    Like

    Comment by jomegat — August 5, 2011 @ 7:24 pm

    • Not really. I had warm clothing and rain gear and would have continued had the weather looked better. Trying to follow a snowed in trail that I had never been on at high altitude in the rain was not something I wanted to do. I had two maps of the area, one a map of the National Forest and the other a topo map of the area and they disagreed on where the old road stopped and the trail began. Also, this year the Ranger District has not done much if any trail maintenance so finding the trail and negotiating it was not a “gimmie”. I will be back!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 5, 2011 @ 9:38 pm

  14. The pic with your jeep shows an elevation of nearly 2000′ higher than our highest summit here. Glad you turned back. Do you carry a satellite phone?

    Like

    Comment by Cedar — August 6, 2011 @ 6:48 am

    • The logging road followed the 6000 foot contour line for about 3 miles. The trail then would climb another 1000 feet to the peak. No I don’t have a satellite phone: one might be handy.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 6, 2011 @ 10:01 am

  15. You got some great pictures out of it. I would have turned back too at that point.

    Like

    Comment by Ratty — August 6, 2011 @ 1:59 pm

    • I returned there today and found that the snow has melted on that part of the road, but the rest of the road has grown over fully and the trail has been reclaimed by the forest.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 7, 2011 @ 10:23 pm

  16. Beautiful country, Montana certainly offers the best playground for photographers! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Amlea — August 6, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

    • Yes, it is still very scenic. The task now is controlling the exploitation of the wild country to keep that beauty and all that is contained in the wild country intact.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 7, 2011 @ 10:25 pm

  17. Haha, I probably would have turned back at the little fir trees on the trail or the alders…and never seen the snow. So pretty, I can see why you want to conquer it.

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    Comment by Candace — August 6, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

    • This road is the edge of the Cataract roadless area. Today I ventured several miles into the roadless area. It’s gorgeous there!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 7, 2011 @ 10:27 pm

  18. What spectacular views. Gorgeous landscape!!!

    Like

    Comment by Marcie — August 7, 2011 @ 8:48 am

    • This is a very scenic and wild part of the Cabinet Mountains. There are several roadless areas in the region and some great old trails. I go there as often as I can.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 7, 2011 @ 10:29 pm

  19. A wonderful journey. Part bike, part hike, what a perfect combination. That you knew the limits of the conditions before you shows me you are a seasoned outdoorsman. Thanks for taking us along.

    Like

    Comment by Wild_Bill — August 7, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    • That’s one of the advantages of growing up in this area. My children are also very comfortable in the back country. When on these old trails I always marvel at what it must have been like to plan them and create them and what it was like for the very first visit there.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 7, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  20. It’s neat to see the equipment you use to get to the back country. I’m glad you take care of yourself out there! Beautiful photos of your journey.

    Like

    Comment by farmhouse stories — August 7, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

    • My equipment is pretty basic, but sufficient for where I go and most of it is such an improvement over what I had when I was a kid. I do have a pack that I still use a lot that dates back into the 30’s and I always carry a compass that was part of my brother’s equipment in the South Pacific in WW II.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 7, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

  21. Handy bike!

    Like

    Comment by knightofswords — August 8, 2011 @ 9:26 am

    • Besides just for the exercise I’m getting some pretty good use out of it on the old roads. It certainly does expand my range!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 8, 2011 @ 9:14 pm

  22. Whew-wee, what a heck of a trail! And my look at the sign for the altitude! That is way up! Enjoyed the photos and what rugged countryside that is oh so beautiful. How in the world can one ride a bike there, though? I mean, one would have to be in top shape and used to excursion. Enjoyed the post, Montucky! 🙂

    Like

    Comment by Anna — August 9, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    • The elevation does make a difference, but by this time of summer I’ve gotten used to it. I love that high, wild country so much that I train all year to be able to get around up there. The beauty and the solitude are beyond description and spending time in natural wild forests entirely changes one’s perspective on the world. It is living in a world without headlines.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 9, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

  23. Snowed out in August plus a rainstorm. I guess you were smart to turn around. LOL.

    Like

    Comment by Bo Mackison — August 9, 2011 @ 5:04 pm

    • The unexpected will always be present in the high country. I can’t remember to whom to credit it, but he said that there is no such thing as inclement weather, only improper clothing.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 9, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

  24. fun! (and good to know when to turn back!)

    Like

    Comment by silken — August 9, 2011 @ 8:46 pm

    • We can’t change the weather conditions, but we sure have to know how to react to them. It’s part of the enjoyment1

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 9, 2011 @ 10:03 pm

  25. That snow actually looks inviting with all the hot weather we have been having. Beautiful scenery. I’m sure all that exercise is keeping you young!

    Like

    Comment by kateri — August 9, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

    • We are having very hot weather in the valleys here now too. The coolness of the high country is a wonderful break from it!

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 9, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

  26. Smart move to turn back especially when you are alone. Just seeing snow made me shiver. It’s only August and I just do not want to think about it. Good luck on your next attempt.

    Like

    Comment by Scott Thomas Photography — August 15, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    • I know. Here, the first snow may be in a month, but then we usually have a nice Indian summer following it.

      Like

      Comment by Montucky — August 15, 2011 @ 8:29 pm


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