Participants: David and Julie Kahl
Ogden Mt. FINALLY! And how about that day, could we have had a better day than if we had special ordered it? As it was just David and I we decided that rather than camping, we would just do it as a long day on Saturday, getting up early and on the road before 8:AM. We drove to just east of Lincoln, took Willow Cr. Rd. to Dalton Mt. Rd., to the main Sauerkraut Cr. Rd, which at the junction with Upper Sauerkraut Rd. becomes Moose Cr. Rd., while Upper Sauerkraut Cr. Rd turns up hill to a terminate in a saddle with road/trail junctions below the northeast face of Ogden Mt. Upper Sauerkraut Cr. Rd. had another summer’s of deterioration from when we had hiked it with Steve Schombel back in early June. We had explored the junction area on other trips and knew exactly which two track “road” we needed to take from the 6700 ft/2042.16m saddle. Standing with your back to the trail head for Trail 404 that comes in from Dalton Mt. it is the remains of a road directly opposite, across the road. We left a little before 11:AM. Like so many trails it’s steepest at the bottom and the two tracks deteriorate quickly. It looked like someone on an ATV had gone up and cut down some of the blow down earlier in the summer, but more had come down. Between the saddle and 7000 ft/2,133.60m the road/trail runs through old standing dead lodge pole, with continuous blow downs blocking the road. We must have put on an extra 1/3 mile/0.53k just circumventing them. We knew from previous explorations that at 7000 ft/2,133.60m the road would traverse a flat ridge and start down the southwest flank, so we would need to leave the road somewhere up there. At the ridge we ran into an extensive blow down across the road that we just didn’t want to go around, so I set a waypoint on my GPS and we left the road there. At 7000 ft/2,133.60m the conditions change, it is now a live forest of ponderosa and Douglas fir with some blow down in isolated islands, easy to get around. Mostly bear grass, the terrain varied from open spots with bright red huckleberry bushes and carpet like vaccinium to stands of little pine trees, and rocky spots. The only flowers we saw were pearly everlasting. We started following the icon on the GPS’s, which said the summit was at 7310 ft/2228,09m and showed the highest point being just above the steep north face. At 7000 ft/2,133.60m the ridge ran flat for a bit and at its narrowest point the drop off on both sides was obvious, so we stayed close to the north edge as we went up from there. Strangely, here the terrain was almost exactly like it showed as contours on the GPS, we’d go up a hill, then it was flat for a bit, go up another hill, flat, and we stayed on that track even though what looked like summits appeared on both sides of us. The GPS icon was still ahead of us. We came up on what seemed like it should be the summit, but peering through the trees we saw one more ramp up to the real summit, arriving at 12:30, with the GPS’s saying 2.5 miles/4.02k. The icon still appeared off to the north, so we looked around to make sure there were no higher points. The icon floated in the air just off the steep north face and must have sank, because it said 7310 ft/2228.09m, but our GPS’s were registering in the 7390 ft/2252.47m range. The top had a large flat spot, with stumps of trees that were only a few inches/cm off the ground, and a post with wire wrapped around it, made us suspect there had once been a lookout there. You had to go to the edges to get views. To the north was the Blackfoot River valley, with the mountains dividing the Blackfoot from the East Fork Of The North Fork and the Scapegoat Wilderness a solid wall on the other side. The ridge that formed the east wall of the Willow Cr. drainage was to the east, close in. to the west we could see two bodies of water, maybe Kleinschmidt and Brown’s Lakes, with some snow capped mountains beyond. After taking photos we sat in the bear grass and had lunch, then did something we almost never do, we laid back on our packs, put our hats over our faces and just rested. Not because we were tired, but because we just didn’t want to leave. It was sunny, in the 60’s/ 15.56c with a mild breeze.
Not wanting to sit too long and start to “stiff up,” we took summit photos and headed back down trying to follow our “uptrack” back out to the road. It started as “ that looks like and easier way to go down” and we ended up deviating from our uptrack to the right and found ourselves by a rock pile we knew we hadn’t seen on the way up. We side hilled back to our uptrack going down more at the same time. As we went I realized we were on the other side of one of the little false summits we had seen on the way up. Shortly it happened again this time when I sat down and looked at the GPS closely, discovered we had dropped a few feet below 7000 ft/2,133.60m, so we once again corrected going up hill to the uptrack again. Close to the road waypoint it happened again, but this time we found ourselves on the road and followed it to shortly be confronted by the back side of the blow down that had made us leave the road in the first place. We took our packs off and crawled under it, and was at the waypoint in a few feet. (If we had continued down any of the deviations, we knew that road was below us, but as it drops down from the 7000 ft/2,133.60m ridge, we don’t know how far down we would have encountered it.) We now knew, on the way down, how to either avoid or the best way to get around the blow down, as the GPS’s showed us covering less that the 2.5 miles/ 4.02k we had logged on the way up. It was windy with stronger gusts, now, and going through the standing dead was creepy. We were back to the truck by 3:PM. If one actually made it back to the road/trail junctions at the end of Upper Sauerkraut Cr. Rd. I’d estimate the distance to the summit is roughly 2 miles 3.22k, an easy hike, if it weren’t for the blow down. We headed back out to dinner in Lincoln before driving home.