Two good friends were looking for a challenging hike to prepare them for upcoming adventures and I recommended trail #65 to the summit of Scotchman Peak as my favorite place to gain and lose 4,000 feet in a day. They had never been there before and as many people know it is one of my all-time favorite mountains.
I had seen on Facebook that about a foot of water was washing over the road at the trailhead so we all brought appropriate footwear for the crossing, and then stashed those wet sandals and water shoes with a towel in the woods for another wet crossing at the end of the day.
We started out at 9:30 in the morning with only one other carload of hikers ahead of us and we summited in just over three hours after passing the group ahead of us who were slowed down by leg cramps and a dachshund. I never thought I would see a dog with such short legs on the summit of Scotchman Peak.
The trail had about 8 or 10 downed trees that required climbing over, around, or my least favorite…under! The snow was still very thick up above the meadows. I was amazed at how little snow was around the meadows and how almost immediately it was 3-4 feet deep in the last section of trees before breaking out into the first talus field. I love kick stepping up snowy faces and was truly shocked to realize that we magically stayed “on trail” even though it was covered in snow.
We found the ammo can with the summit register and my fellow hikers made sure to immortalize us there. Seeing how this was their first time atop the highest peak in Bonner County both of my hiking companions were struck by the magical views and wildlife. Mr. Scotchman circled us enough times for us to get photographic proof of him from every angle. My favorite quote of the day came when the person with the leg cramps summited and said, “Holy mother of god, we made it.”
The hike down was mostly uneventful. We plunged stepped through the snow, and stopped to reapply sunscreen because there wasn’t a cloud in the sky protecting us from the suns powerful rays. The huckleberry bushes seem to be trying hard to produce their tasty berries, but we won’t know for sure until later this summer.
When we returned to the car and forded the creek I let it slip that the name of the creek was Mosquito Creek. To which one of my hiking partners mention that was a very good name for such a place. So we hurriedly packed the car and drove away before the mosquitoes were able to drain us of too many pints of blood. Later this summer I will miss the creek crossing at the end of the hike, the cold water was really enjoyable.
I am pretty sure that my friends will enjoy their adventures climbing up Kilimanjaro and backpacking through the Enchantments of Central Washington in August, but they now have a much better appreciation of the majestic places close to home like the Scotchman Peaks.
Blog written by Todd Dunfield