Idaho and Oregon August 2003 Itinerary

Dear mom and dad,

        I provide here an itinerary for my upcoming driving trip to Idaho (hereafter "ID") and Oregon ("OR"), partly with Barney Metz of Lewiston, ID, as well as with Scott Surgent.

County maps of Idaho and Oregon are attached to this e-mail for your reference. PLEASE PRINT THEM and use as guides to understanding the zigs and zags of my journey.

Here is some vital travel and contact information - provided in one location, for your convenience now and on future climbing trips.

Note: This contact information is not included here because it contains personal telephone number and e-mail addresses.


There are two chief goals of this trip -

  1. Climb Borah Peak, the ID state highpoint (hereafter "HP").
  2. Climb several summits in south OR that are very good mountains in their own right. They just-so-happen to be county highpoints.
The first weekend is spent with Barney Metz and Scott Surgent. Saturday Aug.9 is the preferred day to summit Borah Peak - a twelve hour climb with a whopping five thousand feet of vertical gain. Should we fail owing to weather on Saturday, Sunday Aug.10 is our backup day.

I fly into Boise mid-day on Friday. Barney will retrieve me and, since it only takes four hours to drive to the campground under Borah Peak, we will do some "quickie" county highpoints enroute.

Barney will consider one or two from among the following ID counties - Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln (see ID county map for their locations). All of these entail minimal hiking effort. We would have considered Minidoka County except this is rattlesnake season and the Minidoka HP, Bear Den Butte, is notorious for snakes. Best leave it alone until some future winter!

If successful on Borah Peak on Saturday, Barney and I will try to get two counties on Sunday - Cassia County in southern ID, and Box Elder County in northwestern Utah. Barney then drops me off in Boise on Sunday evening and I pick-up my rental. Barney then returns home by 12-1 a.m. in Lewiston.

Scott Surgent is flying to SLC for the weekend - and will meet us either at the campground Friday evening, or at the Borah Peak trailhead VERY early the following morning.

Consider the Oregon portion of my trip. Ten counties are planned, with eight summits - the difference arising because two pairs of counties share a common HP, i.e. they are "two-fers". I may attempt additional counties if time and energy permit (Lake Co and Wheeler Co, OR).

The four counties which support two highpoints entail NONTRIVIAL CLIMBS -

South Sister, HP of both Lane and Deschutes Counties (10,358 ft)

This is a Cascadian volcano with glaciers and permanent snow. A trail leads up 4,800 vertical feet from the forest, wending its way BETWEEN the glaciers to the summit. The trail will be well-stomped-down from people climbing earlier in the season. Since it is already August, snow will not be encountered until high up. That means scree travel lower down, a thankless task that is akin to walking on pebbles and sliding down one-half step for every step taken forward.

Mount Thielsen, HP of both Douglas and Klamath Counties (9,182 ft)

Known as the "Lightning Rod of the Cascades", it is first to draw charge owing to its skinny, pinnacle-like form. A trail leads nearly to the summit. The final 150 vertical feet involve class 3 rock climbing - but with solid handholds that should not be a problem. The total elevation gain is 3,800 feet.

For each of these ascents I will call you in advance to let you know which day I have planned for it (it is impossible to predict this far ahead). If you do not hear from me by 12 noon of the day AFTER I plan on climbing the specified peak, something is wrong. I allot that amount of time because the most likely scenario if I fail to call is either because I was too tired to drive out to a town after the climb; a flat tire when trying to drive out; or something else unrelated to an actual climbing accident.

South Sister is located about 20 miles west of Bend, OR in the Three Sisters Wildnerness. It is either in the Willamette National Forest on the west, or in the Deschutes National Forest on the east.

Mount Thielsen is located immediately next to the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness, somewhere on the boundary separating the Umpqua National Forest to the west, and the Winema National Forest on the east. Mount Thielsen is just north of Crater Lake National Park - it can easily be seen from the Park.

Edward Earl solo'ed both of these mountains three years ago. Furthermore, they are quite popular summer climbing destinations, i.e. unlike some county highpoints that are only known by "us". It would be nice to plan on doing these mountains on weekend days when more people are around in event of trouble - but I do not want to do them on back-to-back days because of the efforts involved. These two mountains are well within my abilities. It would have been nice to find a partner - but everybody else I asked (and I asked plenty of county highpointers) have already done it, or have no interest in Oregon summits.

The remaining OR counties are either drive-ups or half-day affairs at most. I return my auto to Boise, likely taking a motel on Tuesday, August 19, the evening prior to my flight home the next morning.


Friday August 8

Fly to Boise (see flight information above). Do a subset of {Gooding, Jerome, Lincoln} Counties in ID with Barney Metz on the way to Borah Peak. These are each trivial efforts.

on north county line (6,360+ ft) - Gooding County Highpoint (cohp)
on east county line (ca. 4,760 ft) - the Jerome cohp
unnamed point (5,950 ft) - the Lincoln cohp

Saturday August 9

Borah Peak (12,662 ft) - the Custer cohp and Idaho state HP (!)

A long, long day with some dicey sections on high ("Chicken Out Ridge"). Scott Surgent turned back several years ago (he literally "chickened out"), but now has enough experience that it should no longer phase him. Edward Earl solo'ed Borah Peak in calendar 2000. It will be great to see Barney Metz reach the top of his home state, something that we wanted to do last year but were thwarted by a severe cold (Adam) and knee problems (Barney).

We will start before dawn, earlier than 5 a.m. The trail is steep. We should be finished in twelve hours or less. If all goes well, Barney and I continue as per the Sunday listing below. Scott Surgent is currently unavailable for comment as to his preferences for Sunday - he is doing San Juan and Grand Counties in southern Utah with his new wife at this time.

Sunday August 10

Cache Peak (10,339 ft) - the Cassia Co., ID cohp

This should be at most a three hour, four mile hike with either a 1,000 ft or an 1,800 ft elevation gain, depending on how high up we can get in Barney's ATV (All Terrain Vehicle, AKA "Dune Buggy"). Barney drives - I just hang on.

Bull Mountain (9,920+ ft) - Box Elder Co., UT cohp

This is is a drive-up for 4WD (four wheel drive) vehicles - such as Barney's and mine. With a passenger car it would be an all-day, boring walk up rutted, backcountry tracks. Since I plan upon completing Utah, perhaps next summer, getting this one "out of the way" saves effort on a future trip.

According to Barney, these two are conveniently done together on a circuitous drive back to Boise.

Barney drops me off and I pick-up my rental. Depending on the time I may start west for Oregon or take a room in Boise. The former "sets me up" for the next day, the latter is more "cushy". 'Nuff said.

Monday August 11 - Tuesday August 19

For this nine day period the exact itinerary depends on factors that I cannot predict this far in advance, i.e. state of mind, willingness to push myself, weather, road conditions, etc ... . I provide a TENTATIVE itinerary. The word is TENTATIVE: I will likely deviate from it as I gather information and make progress.

Monday August 11

Drive west on OR route 26 to John Day, OR. It is where Barney Metz and I learned of the fire near

Strawberry Mountain (9,038 ft) - the Grant cohp

last season. This is a three hour hike with 1,300 feet of elevation gain. I continue west on route 26 to Bend, OR. Drive west to a campsite near South Sister for the following day.

Tuesday August 12

South Sister (10,358 ft) - the Lane and Deschutes cohp

Please see the advisory above regarding this climb. My route is from the south, beginning at the Fall Creek/Green Lakes trailhead on the north side of Sparks Lake. South Sister is the third highest in Oregon and will be a very nice experience independently of the fact that is just-so-happens to be a two-fer cohp.

Wednesday August 13

Return to Bend, OR and connect to Interstate 5 just south of Eugene, OR via route 126. Drive south on Interstate 5. A VERY intricate series of logging roads brings one to

Mount Bolivar (4,319 ft) - the Coos cohp

A 1,200 ft elevation gain, two miles round-trip. Return to the main road grid and continue south on Interstate 5.

Brandy Peak (5,298 ft) - the Curry cohp

Now at the southwestern tip of Oregon (see map provided). 650 ft elevation gain, 1/3 mile to the summit. Notice how the least-effort-required highpoints are configured to be done the day following South Sister.

Thursday August 14

Return once again to Interstate 5 and drive to Grants Pass, OR. Navigate the Forest Service roads to

Grayback Mountain (7,048 ft) - the Josephine cohp

A 2,500 ft elevation gain with six miles round trip. Should take 4-5 hours (somehow Mike Coltrin took 3). Each time I return to the Interstate we have a "cell phone opportunity".

Friday August 15

Return to Interstate 5 and drive to Medford, OR. Continue east on route 140 for about thirty miles to Fish Lake and

Mount McLoughlin (9,495 ft) - the Jackson cohp

This is a classic hike among the locals to a lower elevation Cascade volcano. A ten mile round trip with 4,000 feet of elevation gain - should take maybe 6-7 hours. Well-marked trail the entire way.

Saturday August 16

(Extra credit to avoid a "hole" in my home glob in south central Oregon)

Continue east on OR route 140, through Klamath Falls, to Lakeview, OR. On Forest Service roads drive as far as reasonable to the trailhead for

Crane Mountain (8,456 ft) - the Lake cohp

I have not made this county HP a "number one priority" because the approach road requires high clearance - and my passenger car will meet its match on the drive. At some point I will have to park and walk up the road to the trailhead. I have looked at the maps and determined that, even under those circumstances, I can do this in one day with time to spare.

Return west on route 140 to Klamath Falls, thence north on OR route 97, past Crater Lake National Park, to route 138. I may camp at Diamond Lake to the immediate west of Mount Thielsen for the following day.

Sunday August 17

Mount Thielsen (9,182 ft) - the Douglas and Klamath cohp

Please see the advisory above regarding this climb. My route is from the west beginning at the Mount Thielsen trailhead on the east side of Diamond Lake. Since this is a weekend date, other people will be on this route.

Notice how I "space out" the more difficult ascents by a full week in the current, tentative itinerary.

Monday August 18

Your birthday! I will start my return to ID by driving north on OR route 97 to Bend, thence east on OR route 26 to Prineville. Just east of the Ochoco Reservoir, enter the Forest Service road grid for access to

Lookout Mountain (6,926 ft) - the Crook cohp

This hike, up a trail, involves 1,000 feet of elevation gain and is a three mile round-trip. Allow two hours.

Tuesday August 19

If all has gone well to this point, I will have time to do the following additional highpoint (which, as with the Lake cohp, I have not made a priority because the approach road requires four wheel drive):

Spanish Peak (6,871 ft) - the Wheeler cohp

Spanish Peak is WEST of Lookout Mountain. Therefore, should there be time for both, I would actually climb them in the order suggested by my driving route back east to ID, i.e. Spanish Peak FIRST, followed by Lookout Mountain. Both of these can be done in the same day. Indeed, Edward Earl telephoned me a few nights ago, from the field, reporting that he did four Oregon counties in one day starting at 4:45 a.m. -

{Crook County, Grant County (see Monday August 11), Wheeler County and Wasco County}.

I will almost certainly take a motel in Boise or its vicinity on Tuesday night the 19th. Other motel nights will likely occur - I just cannot predict them in advance.

Wednesday August 20

My rental is returned at six a.m. in preparation for my flight(s) home that morning. By that date I will be used to waking up very early.

That's the most I can provide at this time, barring extraordinary measures such as sending you topographic charts and GPS coordinates for key backcountry road junctions as well as hiking/climbing route waypoints.

Please fill-in-the-blank space above for my auto license number when I provide it to you from Boise. I may have to leave a message on your home tape recorder since you will be in Detroit at that time.

I will use my cell phone whenever it is in-range, and, barring that, will try my MCI phone card to call you once at day.

        Love, Adam