Saturday, July 02, 2016

Washboard Reef traverse in Bob

Gordon Whirry near the high point of the hike at 8,250 feet.  Wrong Ridge to the right.
This 15+ miles traverse gains about 4,000 as it travels off-trail along a Bob Marshall Wilderness Area reef on the Continental Divide between Teton Pass and Olney Creek back to the West Fork Teton starting point.
Most of this trip is in the West Fork Addition to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area added to the Bob by Congress with the Heritage Act of 2015.
Over the past 10 years I've done this more than a half dozen times, the most recently 2014.
It is a wilderness hike in the best sense ---- with wild, untouched country and 360 views along a 5-mile off-trail high ridge line that peers deep into Glacier Park on the north, the North and Chinese walls to the west and south, and the might peaks of the Rocky Mountain Front to the east.  The Wrong Ridge dominates to the west, one drainage over.
It is particularly gorgeous this time of the year because of the wildflowers.  The varieties of Indian Paintbrush, Arnica, Beargrass, Lupine predominate.  On top the alpine flowers, such as the Forget-Me-Not carpet the top.
We had a glorious, clear day for this walk.
The hike begins at the West Fork Trailhead No. 114, the same trail head used for Mount Wright.  It passes the Mount Wright turnoff and goes 5 miles to Teton Pass, where the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest meets the Flathead National Forest.  You get off trail here and travel south along a 5 mile ridge.  Some 5 relatively easy, unnamed peaks are climbed along the way, the highest, a handsome limestone peak at 8,250 feet.
The most difficult part of the hike is finding the Trail No. 117 back down to Olney Creek from the top.  It is note marked.  It is at the top (about 7,934 feet) of the final ridge line if you hike this north to south.  Then it is straight down.  It then travels through the 2007 Fool Creek burn, difficult to follow because the trail was obliterated in many spots.  We closely watched the cut logs and in a couple of spots the stone cairns.  A trail crew has been through here and it is much easier to find than in 2014.
It is interesting to see that the Forest Service has put a sign up discouraging horse use on this once actively horsey trail.
The trail down from the reef to Olney Creek discourages horses
I've reported this hike several times before in this space, so I won't belabor, so here's a link to a Garmin Advenure with topo map and elevation charts:  CLICK HERE
Some 10 seasons after Fool Creek fire, it's lush and green above Olney Creek

In the background is the high point at 8,250 feet, that we climbed along the way

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