Deer Lodge County Highpoint Trip Report

West Goat Peak (10,793 feet)

Date: May 11, 2007
Author: Jim Perkins

Experience is starting to pay off! Joy!! I actually thought to call ahead on this one and spoke to John Erickson with the Wise River Ranger District (406-683-3900 or 832-3178) to check on conditions BEFORE heading up to the hill.

John was helpful, droving the road to the trailhead two days before my adventure to let me know the road was "clear and dry" - which it was. He even marked the park spot for the trailhead with red tape. Very, very helpful!

From my home in Ravalli County to get to the trailhead, I took Hwy 93 South to Hwy 43 East for 48.5 miles, through Wisdom to the sign for "Fishtrap/Mudd Creek Road".

Proceed on this good dirt road for 5.2 miles toward FR 1203, BUT take the sharp right hand turn before you reach FR 1203. This sharp right will be 0.3 miles after you pass the Beaverhead National Forest sign and roll over the fourth cattle guard.

Once on this road (FR 1279), drive 2.5 miles to the river crossing and the horse unloading area, and then another 1.5 miles to the red blaze tape (Thanks again, John!) and pull over. Look for the two wooden, unmarked posts on the lefthand side of the road that mark the trailhead for TR 129. Also look for a small rock cairn marking the pullover spot at (45° 54.37' N, 113° 18.768' W).

Excellent weather and varied terrain marked the day. The first 2.5 miles were standard trail fare (TR #129) with some moderate to strenuous incline in the middle of this. (When you reach the swampy section, stay to your left.)

Then came the do-or-donít-I-use-snowshoes section for about half a mile; then three miles with snowshoes to Lost Lakes. When you lose the trail, just keep the large rise thatís to your left to your left. Do not try to go up too high too soon as you will only have to lose the elevation gain.

Once I reached the bottom of the first bowl, I aimed for the middle of the bowl top, bowled out, and then was bowled over. What an awesome view from here of the objective: West Goat Peak! I even saw a mountain goat way off in the distance and lots of tracks through the Lost Lakes Plateau. I also removed my snowshoes through this section, but stayed with the trekking poles as the snow, although only intermittent, was thigh deep when scree became unavailable.

Once I reached the last 0.5 mile push, I switched to crampons and huffed and puffed until I blew the top down. I actually had to take off my crampons for the last 100 yards.

Beautiful views and one, bright red ladybug. WOW! Very cool!! And, I now enjoyed a great feeling of accomplishment, given all the failures at McDonald so far this year. (Donít worry, Mr. McD, I have not forgotten you!)

By the way, mid-Spring is a rewarding choice if you donít mind some snowy challenges.

The trip up had taken about 5.5 hours and the trip back was about 5 hours. So, 10.5 hours for 15 miles and about 4,338 feet of gain.

I did manage to register 24.7 mph on my GPS as I slid from the top of the first bowl down. Almost made me want to climb back to the top of the first bowl again. (Not really, but it was a real rump rush!)

As usual, I got a little lost on the way back and highstepped dead fall for at least two miles. Then, I was back on the trail and singing praises to my Lord for allowing me such a wonderful experience. You know, solo is never really solo with Him.