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Mt. Pend Oreille to Mt. Willard, Trail #67

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Mt. Pend Oreille to Mt. Willard, Trail #67

Hike #372

52° - 61°   Fog

Sept 27, 2010…Mt. Pend Oreille to Mt. Willard…Tr #67 …hike # 372

The weather looked iffy...overcast, low clouds and fog but headed over to Trestle Peak Rd to hike to Mt Pend Oreille and try to get to Mt Willard. We’ve tried before but ran out of time and didn’t really know exactly which peak was Willard. Got to the trailhead in deep fog...it was windy, chilly and raw. We wore shorts today and I had the wrong sweatshirt jacket but it turned out to be fine. I doubled up on jackets, put on my hood, pulled up my socks and off we went. The Lunch Peak lookout was completely fogged in.

The trail was so beautiful today with the brilliant reds of the huckleberry bushes, in spite of the fact that even over here, normally a great picking spot, there were no signs of any of the purple morsels this year. (We’ve heard that those who were able to find some were selling them for $43.00 or more a gallon.) I couldn’t help taking so many pics. We got to the cutoff to the top of Mt. Pend Oreille in thicker fog and wind at 12:00 but took the trail around the mountain this time to head off to Mt. Willard. I was nervous the last time we did this too…I remember I kept ‘smelling a bear’ and saw one of the bear’s day beds. The same was true today…I was not comfortable but since we saw no bear scat anywhere, I just kept walking with a very alert eye!

Several grouse startled us by whooping upward in front of us and after my heart started beating again, I got a few good pictures of two of them. We could hear mama grouse calling the babes. After one hour of hiking in the right direction, we reached a point where we could see a mountain and could see a trail over on that mountain but the drop off down into the saddle and then the climb back up looked daunting so we took a GPS reading and sure enough, it was indeed Mt. Willard that we were looking at. But we chose not to attempt it today, not knowing exactly how long it would take us…most likely an hour and a half or more. Instead we sat and ate our lunch while looking over at Mt. Willard, which would have to wait for another day and an earlier start. Mt Pend Oreille loomed over in the other direction, now with spots of sporadic sun hitting the sides of it, illuminating all the gorgeous red bushes.

On the way back, we kept seeing horseshoe prints…but how and where? Then I remembered that earlier we passed a truck pulling a horse trailer as we drove on the road to the trailhead…it just always amazes us how horses and mules traverse these difficult trails, especially crossing the steep shale not to mention other trail hazards. The tracks led all the way back to our truck, but there was no parked horse trailer. We began assuming that they were parked at Lake Darling...but as we drove down the road we saw the trailer and now figured the road was much too rough to drive all the way up.

There was a huge bull moose on the road as we drove out…it had been in the spot we noticed on the way in, a spot with lots of dirt pulled apart, as if it were a bed or resting spot. Jim called to it and as it turned around, I got some great pics, from the truck!


Left home                    9:00

Started up                   10:20

Turned around             1:00    

Got to truck                 3:40

Total miles hiked          12½ miles        

Total hiking time          5 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.

Tagged as:

moose, hiking, Trail #67, Mt. Pend Oreille, Mt. Willard, grouse

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moose Grouse

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