Sunday, November 30, 2008

Iron Mountain Trail

November 29, 2008

Again, things were quiet on the North Fork Teanaway road this drizzly, but warmish, Saturday morning in late November. The leaves now had all fallen from the aspens and cottonwoods and the larch had lost all their gold needles. With the gray skies and the flat light, there was little color to be found--perfect for keeping the dust and the crowds.

Trail 1394 starts about a mile before road end. Parking is on the south side of the road, the trail starts on the north. It starts up and it continues up, with nary five feet of flat until you get to about 5000. Views today were mostly of the fog, with some thin clouds swirling around the dramatic nearby Palisades and other massive granitic outcroppings, so common in this area.

The trail itself is fairly nondescript, winding it's way up a wide ridge in a thin pine forest. Spring and summer would be better, with a profusion of wildflowers, no doubt, spreading across the rocky forest floor. As previously mentioned, at 5000' the trail flattens a bit and views of the un-named pass and the top of the ridge open up. On a clear day, the view south and west would be rewarding. Today, through a pocket in the clouds, I settled for a weak rainbow, stretching across the creek bed, far below.

As the temperature was rising, snow was melting from the trail, exposing a solid sheet of ice below, much like a frozen stream. Just as I had slipped for the 16th time and was ready to turn around, a cold wind was felt blowing down from the pass, leaving the snow intact over the trail, making it easier to walk. At 6000' or so, the snow became quite deep and as it was now approaching mid-afternoon, I had a quick snack and started back. The pass itself, which I dearly wanted to see, was about a mile ahead and I'm sure, in clear weather, would have had spectacular views north to the Stuart Range.

After an easy and quick hike back down, I arrived at the car at about 330.

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