Thursday, December 01, 2016

Exploratory on trail below Fairview Mountain

Walking up the Beaver-Willow Road beyond the closed gate with Sheep Shed Mountain above us 

Katie and Jaye at Lost Lake below Fairview Mountain
Grizzly paw prints on the road
Really, we should have been skiing, and this area would have been a pretty good spot if there were snow.
There was a skiff of the white stuff along the way, and it hung in the air.
This was a Wayne's Wednesday Wilderness Walk exploratory hike on Trail 210 that runs parallel to the Beaver-Willow Creek Road reached from the Benchmark Road and the old Camp Scoutana.
The trail runs along the base of Fairview Mountain.
It is about a 7 mile walk, but we made it into a 9.3 mile trek that gained and lost nearly 2,000 feet because we had difficulty finding trail.
We had four in our group start from the south near the Willow Creek Falls trailhead.  The other four of us (me included) were to start from the north and there was to be a key exchange.  In the end, only two made it all the way through.
We were hampered in trail-finding from the north end by the high-grade outfitter/hunting trails that bisected the main trail, misleading and confusing us.
We went off on a number of wild-goose chases before giving up.  On one of my exploratories I found what I thought to be the thru-trail, and turned back and we turned around.
When we were later reunited with the two who had come all the way through, we discovered that my tracks were within 100 yards of where the south group had stopped for lunch, and where two of those four also turned back.
We had two extra miles added each way because the gate on the road near Sugar Loaf was closed (for the winter).   It was a beautiful walk on the road though, because there was no traffic and there was a light amount of snow.  On the way back we found distinct grizzly bear tracks on the road (photo included on this adventure).
A highlight of the trip from the north to south was Lost Lake beneath Fairview Peak, a gorgeous opening in the thick Doug Fir forest.  The group coming up from the south encountered high wind and some trail-finding difficulties, too.
The entire area of high peaks on the southern end of the Rocky Mountain Front was quite beautiful in its alpine glory.

The "Xs" mark where the two cars were parked.  The gray line is where the group from the south started at the Willow Creek Falls trailhead area.  The group from the north parked at the "X" on the purple line and walked north, looping to the south.  Note the gap between the gray and purple lines and you'll see how close we came to connecting, before we turned around and headed back to the car.

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