All But Two Back Out; Flat Tire, Talus Scrambling Challenges Pair
For a couple days prior to the hike, we had been camping at Park Lake with Beth’s daughter and her 3 children, about 12 miles south west of Clancy. We packed up on August 5th and decided to go to Helena since Amber had a low tire indicator light. She had a low tire because there was a nail in the tire!
After having the tire fixed, we drove to and explored the town of Elkhorn and the old cemetery on the hill....then came the rain. We decided to head to Boulder and get a motel room instead of setting up and sleeping in wet gear. Beth had climbed both peaks a couple of times as a young teenager. It seemed pretty easy then!
On Thursday, August 6th, we woke up early, drove to Elkhorn and were on the trail about 6:50. We parked at the Railroad water tank and hiked up the iron road also know as Diego Town Road or Muskrat for 4.5 miles. The road has extremely deep ruts, jagged rocks throughout and a fairly steep incline. We came across a locked driveway gate stating, “Private Property” and a primitive cabin with a rain collection bucket, solar panels and a cement mixer. We continued in until we came to the top of a cirque (formed by a Glacier), which had a white marble outcropping on the top. We then scrambled over igneous boulders of various sizes until we reached the top of Elkhorn. There is a semi circular shelter made out of stacked rocks and a geocache box filled with treasures, including binoculars. The views were spectacular and we could see mountain ranges in every direction.
We then traversed across more rocks across a saddle which was a mile or so until we reached the top of Crow Peak (elevation 9414 and the highest mountain in the Elkhorn mountains), where it was extremely windy. Someone had placed an American flag on the top of the mountain and we found the USGS benchmark on the top. We signed the book indicating we had reached the summit.
We didn’t want to back track across the saddle to the trail we hiked up so decided to make a loop to return to our parking spot. There isn’t a trail down from Crow so we bushwhacked our way down sheer slopes of tippy and unstable igneous (granitic) boulder fields very carefully. We laughed at ourselves and each other because by the time we reached the bottom of the we had had some spectacular saves from falling and each had a few new scratches and bruises. Plus our legs were pretty tired! We found a trail along a creek and followed it back to our parking spot. The hike was strenuous but well worth the feeling of accomplishing something. It was much more difficult 40+ years later for sure!