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Round Top Mountain, Trail 120

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Round Top Mountain, Trail 120

Hike #361

 

Jul 12, 2010…Round Top Mtn …tr#120…hike # 361

53° and windy

Choosing which hike to do gets harder… we have done so many and numerous times that we kind of let the weather be our guide.  And summer is so short that we like to do some of our favorites. With extremely strong wind and cooler temps predicted for this day, we chose a ridge hike, Schafer Peak on the Monarch Ridge trail, and a long ride to the trailhead. The cooler temps today were quite a contrast to our recent 93° weather.

As we were driving over to Clark Fork for the trailhead, all of a sudden I remembered the last time we did the Schafer Peak hike...it was when we ran into the mama bear with a cub in the tree. The memory nixed that hike for me. I told Jim to quickly think of something else to do that was on our way. He mentioned a couple, one of which was the Round Top Mtn hike.

We have only done this one once before, 6 years ago, on Jul 11, 2004…almost to day, and with very similar weather conditions…59 and windy!  Neither of us could remember any details of it except that the views were absolutely amazing from the top. But we both remembered that this was the hike where I tripped on three rocks hidden under the bear grass and came crashing down on the last one, smashing my glasses and eye on it.  (First, I hit my thigh and knee, then the heels of my hand and finally went face first into the third rock and the right lens of my glasses hit it hard. When I realized I hadn’t hit my head, I tried to get up and assess the situation. My glasses were all bent up and the impact put 3-4 gouges in the plastic lens and forced the entire metal frame into my eye socket. It is a very good thing I had glasses on because that rock would have gone straight into my eye.) Back to today, I had only minutes to decide before the turnoff on Trestle Creek Rd. The heavy trucks were still working on the road, and we saw a mama moose with a young ‘mooselet’ crossing the road on the way up.

It was warm at home and we dressed accordingly…shorts, of course and I had no qualms about leaving my sweatshirt jacket on the shelf. The A/C was on in the truck full blast. What a shock when we got to the trailhead and opened the truck doors…it was cold and the wind was wild. I was freezing and thought I would be in big trouble. I immediately got out the windbreaker and my wool hat which I wore for most of the day. I can say that we never got hot and nor even warm! Several times I even wanted to dig out my wool gloves for my cold hands.

 Right at the start of the trail, we saw a huge pile of bear scat… hmmm. The trail is very rough and rugged, with rocks of all sizes, both loose and embedded, tree roots, about 12 downed trees of all sizes to either climb over or walk around thru the brush and scree fields to cross.  The wind began to pick up and visibility got progressively worse.

There is a short but steep climb to the top of the ridge on Trestle Peak at 6320’ and normally the views would be outstanding. By now the loud, howling wind was very strong and since it was about laying me down to the ground, I wouldn’t even go up to the top. That short side trip cost us 30 minutes and once back down on the trail we had some snacks.

It seemed like we should be at least seeing the mountain by now but nothing… a peak off in the distance which we thought was the one, proved not to be. We decided that if we weren’t getting anywhere at the four hour point, we would turn around. The strong winds and black sky were also discouraging us. Finally spotting the right peak, but thinking it would be at least another 30-45 minutes to get to the top, we found an offshoot trail which took us to a rocky precipice just below the real top at 6153. Views were all but obliterated by now and this was top enough for me. So many Sego Lilies, penstemon and bear grass. We lingered only long enough for a few pics, and then headed down. The gusts were unbelievable…except for winter blizzards, this may be the worse wind conditions we have been in. My prayer was…Lord, please keep all these trees standing and upright! We found out later that wind speed at the lake was as high as 48mph and Spokane recorded 75mph gusts.

  • Left home                    8:20
  • Started up                   9:30
  • Got to top                    1:40  (4 hours, 10 minutes)
  • Started down               1:45                 
  • Got to truck                 4:55  (3 hours, 10 minutes)
  • Total miles hiked          16 miles           
  • Total hiking time          7 hours, 20 minutes

 

 

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Author info

Betsy Fulling Betsy Fulling In 2002, after a bout with cancer and wanting her energy back, Betsy Fulling began hiking with her husband Jim. Regardless of the weather they go into the high country every week - in eight years, she has only missed five times.

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moose, wildlife, bears, hiking, Round Top, Trail #120

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