the eighth day

Sunday Dave and I hiked Elf Peak in Stein Valley Nlaka’Pamux Heritage Park. From the parked car, the trip took about nine and a half hours (including stops for food and enjoying the view at the top). Here is the route we took on a google map.

The reconnaissance trip two weeks ago proved useful. (Click here for a view of Elf from that trip.) The path Kat and I carved through the brush on that trip was substantially intact for this trip. Dave and I had a proper machete with us making it a bit easier to open a hole where we needed one.

Dave contrasts my machete from two weeks ago with the one we used this weekend

To get past the alder stands on the old logging road, Kat and I had tried two different paths. Both were shit. On this trip Dave and I decided to try going up and over them on the hill side. That turned out to also be shit. We had trouble finding our “up and over” route during our return and wasted a bunch of time foraging in the woods. I expect we could just have quickly punched right through the middle of the dense brush without climbing the steep bank. Lesson observed.

Near the end of the woods we made a grizzly discovery: we are not alone in the world. We had already been in loud-noises mode for a little while and saw no other substantial evidence of the beast.

Maybe that is a midget’s hand used as comparison suggesting we are only facing off against a midget grizzly bear?

From the car park (elev. ~1515 m) to the end of forest (elev. ~1629 m) is around 5-5.5 km walking  south east. At the edge of the woods, the valley ends abruptly and a mountain pass lies before us. We ascended to the north east toward the large knob on the west ridge of Elf Peak.

Standing in Van Horlick Pass, the slopes of Elf Peak loom before us

Taking a break atop the knob before our push to the peak

We took a break on the knob to recharge and plan the next phase of our assault. We devised a route and pressed on up the steep slopes. After excreting a substantial amount of sweat, we finally crested the top ridge. A short jaunt to the east brought us to the summit at 2337 m. The view every direction was rad. We could see down the Scudamore Divide, the entire North Stein River all the way to its confluence with the Stein River just east of Stein Lake. 12 km to the North East was Gott Peak at the entrance to Blowdown Pass. Across the Van Horlick Pass to the South West was Gideon Peak and the spot Kat and I had lunched only two weeks prior.

360 degree view from the summit

On the way down Unnecessary Knob I used my compass and a makeshift plum-bob to measure slope angle. This was substantially motivate by a recent text message from Tess where she indicated her day had been spent fighting a forest fire on a 49 degree slope. Pretty baddass. Maybe too baddass. In order to demonstrate that I should still be eligible to play with her I felt I should offer some quantitative physical-prowess data, even if it was measured on improvised equipment. Our slope was only 40 degrees. And nothing was on fire. Maybe she will still hang out with me when she wants a break.

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