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St. Mary's Pass/Sonora Peak/Wolf Creek Lake 6-23&24

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St. Mary's Pass/Sonora Peak/Wolf Creek Lake 6-23&24

Postby MountainMinstrel » Sun Jun 28, 2015 5:08 pm

Day One,
Finally got the chance to get out on this trip. My plan was to take my trusty '69 VW camper up to Sonora Pass on Monday to acclimate but stuff happened and I didn't get that done. Instead I had a fitful night of sleep at home and got up at 5:00 in hopes of being on the trail by 8:00 A M. I actually made it to the trailhead by 8:00 but I spent about a half an hour talking with the guys that operate Sonora Peak Resupply Great guys filling a little niche in the PCT market. Their prices were somewhere between Wallyworld and the local Sonora outdoor shop.

After shooting the breeze for a while I put the boots on, tossed the pack on my back, and was happy as a lamb being on the trail for the first night in the backcountry for the year. Took the road from Sonora Pass to St. Mary’s pass TH figuring that walking down a paved road would be a better beginning that an ending.
It didn’t take long before today’s lunch stop came into view.

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I could really feel the lack of acclimation as I headed up the trail.

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But as I only have 5 miles to do this day and it was still very early, I took my time. Passing some magnificent rock formations. I was surprised to see snow on the South side of the ridge.

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I slowly make my way up 1000 ft. in 1.3 miles to St. Mary’s Pass. This is the view looking back to the south towards Leavitt Peak.

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And this is looking north into Clark Forks Meadows.

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I can't do one of those cool 360* pics but here is a video.



Turned East and headed off on the use trial that leaves right at the summit of the pass. After a bit that trail peters out at the edge of a bowl.

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I knew that the trail picked up again across this bowl but there two possible trails I could see heading up.

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The red one looked like the easier way up, but then it appeared to end at some very steep rocks. The blue one looked like a much tougher climb but it looked to have a clear way to the top of the ridge where I knew the trail went. I headed to a spot in between the two but as I got closer, it became clear that the trail was the blue route. If you aim for the yellow X (just to the right of an obvious pile of rocks) you will find the trail picking up just to your left.

With all the volcanic rock this bowl looks a bit like the surface of Mars.

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The climb up to Sonora peak took a while between the elevation, the lack of acclimation, and the fact that it goes from St. Mary’s Pass at 10430 to 11459 in about a mile of mostly loose scree.
It was a tough climb with a full pack but the views were worth it even with the smoke from the Washington fire.

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Thankfully , the views looking South were pretty clear.

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After a little rest and lunch we headed off to join up with the PCT and head to camp at Wolf Creek Lake. The plan was to follow the ridge North East pretty much directly to the junction to Wolf Creek Lake. However, there was a use trail that took off in an Easterly direction, so figuring that it would be easier to follow a trail back to the PCT, even if it was going out of my way, than to go completely X-country, I head off down the trail. Note to self…STOP FIGURING!
That trail disappeared a bit down the ridge into a bunch of rocks. I looked around a bit and found no clear evidence as to which side of the rocks the trail was, so I chose to go left. I guess I should have gone right as there was no sign of the trail, just loose, steep scree. Well, in for a penny in for a pound and seeing the PCT below we began traversing to the north following approximately this route.

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At one point we had to scramble down about 15 ft. of class 3. I made it down no problem but Hidi freaked out and wouldn’t budge. I had to drop my pack and go back up to put her on the leash and lead her down. I unhooked the leash, put my pack back on and where do you suppose the dog was? Yep, she had climbed back up the section.

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Then she looked at me with what seemed like a big grin and bounded down like it was nothing.

After finally making the PCT (had to stop twice to empty the scree out of my boots), we made good time to Wolf Creek Lake where I found a reasonability level camp site on the East side of the lake where it was dryer.

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For some reason, Topo Mps+ did not consistently track the trip. Lots of straight lines on the map. It showed I traveled 5.17 miles this day, but I am sure it was at least 6 miles. At any rate, I was toast and so was Hidi. We pumped water, lazed around camp, ate dinner and were in the tent by 8:00 where we were lulled to sleep by the hard day and the peaceful sound of a gentle waterfall.

Day two to follow...
Just an old musician who loves the Mountains.



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MountainMinstrel
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Location: Sonora
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