I decided to give Fairchild Mountain
another shot. I tried a few weeks ago to summit this remote Mummy
Range Peak, only to be turned back by bad weather.
This is the sixth highest mountain
in the National Park, standing at 13,502 feet. This mountain is
not climbed too often, simply because of the long approach. I didn't
see anyone else the entire day...a good place to avoid the crowds!
About 2 miles into the trail, I saw
something move quickly across it just a few yards in front of me.
A Bobcat was spooked by my presence, and let me know it. He turned
around, hopped up on a rock and started growling. It was a horrible
noise. If I heard that in the dark, I would have passed out! I backed
up a little bit, gave him some space, and quickly snapped this
photo. I know, I know...you can barely tell what it is, but
I promise it's a Bobcat.
On to Lawn Lake! I walked along the
Roaring River, enjoying the sights and sounds of the rushing waters.
The trail winds through this valley along the river, up and down,
side to side, into the woods and then back along the river, time
and time again. Finally, I came to Lawn Lake. This is a beautiful
lake in a wonderful setting. It sits at the base of the Southwest
slopes of Mummy Mountain. I sat behind a large boulder, had a peanut
butter and jelly sandwich, and some pistachios..great snack!
After the early lunch, it was time
to push on up toward The Saddle. This is where the trail get VERY
beautiful. It winds through some low willows, and sporadic spruce
and pine trees. It is also filled with wildlife. I saw Bighorn Sheep,
Mule Deer and Elk all in this half mile stretch, just below tree
After a few photo breaks, crossing
the river a couple of times, and another handful of pistachios,
I was standing just below The Saddle with Fairchild Mountain rising
over 1,500 feet above me. I was debating on whether to head up to
The Saddle, or take a more direct, but steeper route, directly up
the Northeast Face of Fairchild. I chose to head straight up to
Not only was it steeper, but there
was about six inches of snow on the ground, with over a foot in
some places. This wasn't an issue when there was grass underneath,
but when I got higher up on the mountain, it was all large boulders.
Hopping boulders covered in snow and ice in tennis shoes gets a
little tricky! Especially when it's about 20 degrees. Cold, wet
toes! I took my time, planned a solid route every 50 feet, and after
a long half hour, was on the summit!
This is a special summit, with amazing
and unique views of many other summits in the park. It is a smaller
summit than I had imagined, but more spectacular than I could have
hoped! There was a biting wind, so I hid behind the summit wind
shelter and only came out for long enough to set up the camera.
I signed the summit log, and was off...back down the hill.
I took a slightly different route
back down via a large snowfield that helped speed up the descent.
It was an fast, easy, shoe-ski which dropped me about 300 feet in
elevation. It even flattened out nicely at the bottom so I didn't
have to worry about slamming into any rocks. Hey thanks snowfield!
It was a fairly uneventful hike pack
down the trail. I did get to spend some more time relaxing with
the large Ram...what a beautiful animal!
This might have been my most memorable
hike, ever.....a lot of wildlife, a fantastic summit, a beautiful
day, and a stiff leg to remind me the mountain is still boss! Another
good day in the mountains!
Round Trip: 17.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,962 feet