Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Augusta Lake, Ida Lake Big Jim Mt, Frigid Mt. 8/9/06

For the first time is quite some time I found myself with a window of time with nothing expected of me. Not knowing when this might happen again I decided to make the most of it. I had loosely planned a loop trip keeping in mind that my trips are always a bit fluid.

Day 1:

Hatchery Creek trailhead to Augusta Lake. The trail is abit brushy from the onset, I wouldn't want to do this when raining. The trail is heavily used by horses so it is also dusty as it switchbacks up to the Badlands Junction at 5300ft. I stayed on the Hatchery Creek Trail as it meanders it's way along the ridge passing through some lovely meadows and an old burn from I believe 1994. The trail climbs to meet with the Icicle Ridge Trail at 6700ft. I then dropped 400ft of elevation to the lovely basin below and reclimbed the balance to Lake Augusta at 6854. The weather was a bit warm and coupled with the heavy pack I was suprised to have taken 5 hours to cover the 8.2 miles and 4400ft of climb. There was just enough water along the way to keep the pups hydrated, I was was glad to have brought plenty of extra water with me. I set up camp right near the outlet in a nice spot which was quite dusty. There was a father and young daughter camped just to the NE of me. It warmed my heart to think before to long I will be doing the same thing with my daughter. I exchanged pleasentries not wanting to interrupt there bonding time. After setting up camp and making dinner I tried some fly fishing. There were many very small trout rising. I managed to land one monster 4 inch brook trout. The second goal for the day was to summit Big Jim Mt. which cannot be seen from the lake due to it's highest point further North. I know that you can take the trail to the pass at 7300ft and do a long traverse along the ridge. I was more in the mood for a more direct route. When I was fishing I noticed that the slope just to the left of Pt. 7616 is much more moderate than it appears from further away. I easily went straight up this to the ridgeline and then just followed the easy ridge to the NW. I did not find a register, there were two bronze stamps on the summit instead. I more or less followed my up route for my descent returning to camp in less than 90 minutes. I was treated to an Osprey hunting, which made me laugh due to the quite small fish. Hardly worth the calories expended. The wind was quite gusty during the night lucky for me I had picked a somewhat sheltered spot.

Day 2:

I had planned to break camp and make my way to Big Jim Mt Lakes. The plan was to climb Frigid Mt and Painter's Thumb along the way. I just didn't feel like lugging my heavy pack any further than I really needed to.Yesterday,from the summit of Big Jim Mt. I could see Frigid Mt. it looked a bit cliffy from this vantage. My plan was to travel light and just see if I could sniff a route to the summit. I left around 10am with much cooler temps. I easily made to the 7300ft pass and dropped 1100ft to the basin below. The trail goes through many meadows and marshy areas making the trail a little obscure. There was alway a cairn when I needed it and I found myself at Carter Lake in less than an hour. Carter Lake is nothing to look at I wouln't be suprised if it froze completely in winter. I picked up a trail leaving Carter which I wasn't sure if it was mine or a way trail to Ida Lake. The trail was very well worn so I decided to explore. The trail ends in a marshy area devoid of any trees. This area is quite expansive. I instead climbed a nice ramp that climbs to the SW. I rode this ramp until around 6600ft where I could plainly see a climbers trail that goes over the saddle to Ida Lake. I easily traversed to this trail and made my way to Ida. Ida Lake is one of the most scenic lakes I know of. I was only dismayed that I had left my flyrod at Carter Lake. I only stayed briefly on the way out I followed the path which I lost around 6300ft but I just dropped easily to the marshy area plainly in sight. When I returned to Carter I noticed my trail leaves the NW corner of the lake. I was sure I had no chance to summit Frigid but I thought I might as well give the route a look. The trail crests at the 6600ft pass. I dropped pack and climbed to the North Ridge. I had little problem attaining this ridge but I was sure I would be stymied there. To my suprise it was quite open and mostly benign. I was so suprised to pop out on the summit. I had never really had much hope of making this ascent. There are three points on the summit ridge. I travered to the middle point to see that it was higher than the southern point but lower than the northern point. The map shows the southern as the highpoint, but I am quite sure the northern is the highest. I very carefully downclimbed to my pack and enjoyed lunch. Now all that was left was the descent to Carter and the 1100ft climb back to the pass above Augusta. The climb to Augusta Pass is in full sun and both the dogs and I struggled with the heat. I was very glad to crest the pass and drop the 500ft back to my tent. If the wind wasn't enough the night before it was even gustier on this night. Between the spotlight of a full moon and the roar of the wind sleep did not come easily.

Day3: Back to the truck. The day started out with many little things not going quite right. I should have known I was in for some trouble. Not 5 minutes down the trail home I rolled my ankle bad enough to make me scream. I have done this before so I knew my only hope was to keep walking before it really started swelling. The pain was tolerable becoming less painful as I went. I still had 8 miles to go so I was a little concerned. I was suprised to make such good time with one bum wheel. Things changed as I began the descent in earnest.I literally watched the elevation tick off 10ft at a time as I made my way down the last 1000ft of climb. I have NEVER been so happy to see my truck. I as cautiously optimistic about the status of my ankle. Approx 26 miles 10200 ft of climb 16 hours of climbing

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