Monday, August 11, 2008

Canoe Peak attempt 8.1108

I again had high hopes for a day in the mountains. The weather was going to cooperate and I had plenty of time to make it work. I hoped to summit Canoe Peak via Bare Mt. trail and hoped to continue to Lennox Mt. I had intended on car camping at the trailhead to enable a early start, but a family Monopoly Game nixed that idea. I still managed to get a 0730 start. The North Fork Road is in great shape and I made good time. I was surprised to see a pair just heading up the trail. I packed up and headed up the old slippery road bed. The rocks seemed like they were coated in oil as I made my way to the first crossing of Bear Creek. There are a few different ways to go but all seemed to be a little slippery. I gratefully made it across without incident. I was relieved that the trail has been recently brushed out saving me from getting wet from the morning dew. There is cairn at the first switchback as I continued straight ahead on the old miner's trail that leads to the mines just below Bear Lakes. The route is very brushy but is flagged and I didn't have any issues making it to mines. I passed some trees with fresh bear markings which was obviously made by a smaller bear. As I broke out of the trees I saw the bear clinging to a small rock face above me. I wasn't able to get the camera out in time to catch a good picture. Once at the mine I headed up on the faint fisherman's trail to Bear Lakes. I angled away from the trail to the West and found easier going on some heathery rockslides. Soon I was already above the lakes which suited me just fine. I wasn't intending on stopping at the lakes anyway. In my study for routes of Canoe Peak I was able to find a handful of reports but only one gave any route descriptions. I probably should have read that report a little more closely. Looking at the map it appeared to me that the approach with the least amount of steep climbing was coming from the North. I had been over the small notch just East of 5449' on a previous trip to Kanim Lake. I crossed the ridge and was treated to a lovely bench system of snow, heather and talus. What I didn't count on was Canoe's cliffy North face. I thought I might be able to outflank the cliffs without any luck. I dropped pack and headed up to the ridge line. I was able to breach the ridge around 5400' and started East. This line was not dog friendly and soon I reached a point that surpassed my pucker factor. The dogs were below me freaking out so I pulled the plug at 5550' just 150' from the summit. I backed down the steep snow slope to return to my stowed belongings and contemplated the long traverse to Lennox. I decided that having already wasted so much time on route finding that might put me on the descent from Bear Lakes in the dark. This was something I knew would not be good. The route is hard to follow in full light. I had a tough time getting Tanner to the South side of the ridge. I had to pull him up the last 5' which wasn't the easiest thing to do. I dropped quickly to Bear Lakes and went around the North shore. I couldn't believe how much water was flowing into the lakes. I can only surmise that the area must be loaded with springs. I easily found the fisherman's trail and had no problems following it back to the mine. There was one short steep portion with a rope to help with the drop. I again had to haul both dogs down this part which again wasn't much fun. I had some issues finding my way back to the camps below the mine but nothing too bad. I was happy to reach the more defined lower portions. I soon reached the brushy section which had enough flagging to make it quite easy.

Approx 10 miles 3800' of climb 8 hours car to car

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