Friday, August 19, 2016

Scapegoat's Cigarette Rock ridge walk

Reaching the top of Cigarette Rock 

Viewing Scapegoat Peak from the Cigarette Rock ridge line 
Flint Mountain was our goal, which we didn't make for lack of water 
The Wood Creek Hogback was our backdrop to the east
What began as a straight-forward climb of Flint Mountain (elevation: 9,186 feet)  in the Scapegoat Wilderness was aborted for lack of water but  turned into a glorious ridge walk in the Scapegoat plateau Aug. 12-14.
This 28 mile up and back trip began on the Crown Mountain Trail, down Crown Creek to Straight Creek and then up Cigarette Rock (elevation: 8,235 feet) and from there ridge walks in both directions and back to camp at the mouth of the Crown Creek canyon.
This is country deep in a burn  in the past couple of years, but the abundant fireweed, potentilla, and asters made up for the lack of green trees.
The Crown Creek route into the Scapegoat is super spectacular:  high mudstone and limestone peaks line the trail that offers an easy route up Crown Mountain (elevation: 8,340 feet) if one chooses a side trip.  It drops down the Crown Creek trail, which has been nicely rehabilitated from fire by the Forest Service in just the past year.  This is part of a fast route to Scapegoat Mountain, which we took last year.
A dry Straight Creek greeted us near Cigarette Creek
We had hoped to top Cigarette Rock and camp below it the first day if there had been water in Straight Creek or Cigarette Creek, but there wasn't.  After looking around those creeks futilely, we retreated to Crown Creek and set up a base camp.
In the morning we did a short-cut up to the Cigarette Mountain trail.  We had tried in vain the previous day to find it.  The trail needs some clearing and markings through the burn, which has obliterated an easy path.
Once we found it the second day, we could follow it easily to a limestone saddle and it was an easy walk-up to the top, and fabulous views of the Scapegoat with the Swan Range visible to the west.
We walked toward Flint on the Cigarette Rock ridge line west, enjoying tremendous views of Scapegoat Peak as well, dropping into a small lake and gaining ridge line high points.
We realized that we wouldn't have the daylight to complete Flint by this route.
We noticed that there might have been a better and more direct route from the Cigarette Rock saddle directly west along a bottom just above Sun Lake instead.  Maybe next year, and maybe with an extra day and a high camp.
In retracing our steps we arrived at the saddle and continued north along it, climbing the unnamed high point (elevation: 8,236 feet), marked with a large cairn.  In his Bob Marshall guide, Molvar calls this Bunyan Point, but we located the real Bunyan Point some 600 feet below this unnamed peak.
This is truly unvisited country these days, although I can imagine that this would have been a good horse route to the Scapegoat high plateau, something Gene Sentz verified since he had done it with a horse some years ago.
It would be hard to beat the glory of this ridge walk, even though we climbed a different peak than we had set out to do.
For more photos, and topo map of route, CLICK HERE
Cigarette Rock to the left along a little used Forest Service Trail 
A small lake along our Cigarette Rock ridge walk

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