2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

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Peder
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2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by Peder » September 21st, 2012, 5:08 pm

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Close to the summit of Mt Minnie
Mt Minnie has been on my radar for a while; it is the imposing peak at the far end of Coldwater Lake. Sadly the logging roads on the north side of Coldwater Lake are off limits; so the logical loop (for me) up these roads to within a mile of the summit and a descent past Heart Lake to the Lakes Trail cannot be done. Earlier this month, I spotted a possible loop starting and ending at the Lakes trail. It is the red loop in the picture below.
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Lots of squiggly lines
The drawback to this itinerary is the starting point at the Coldwater Lake boat ramp: There is a 7 mile hike to get to the start of the bushwhack!
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Dawn - Mt Minnie at the end of Coldwater Lake
I started early and there was just enough light to tie my boots without fishing a headlamp out of my backpack. I enjoyed following the Lakes Trail, a group of coyotes gave a loud dawn concert over around the Hammocks Trail; the air was still and in places extremely hot. When I walk into zones with 90F air early in the morning, this makes me think of unstable climatic conditions and thunderstorms. The Lakes Trail was in very good condition and somebody has done maintenance on it since my last visit – Thank you!

I saw where Chase and I went wrong in July: There was a washout and we took the trail “around” the washout; in reality this by-pass was one of the elks’ many trails up toward Heart Lake. Had we just crossed the washout (a little tricky at present – but the elk trail has been blocked off with branches), we could have continued on trail and saved ourselves a lot of bushwhacking! I left the Lakes Trail at the second hairpin and mostly followed elk trails up. These trails are not overly obvious and can be difficult to spot.
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Typical elk trail
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The flatter bench before the "Balcony" Lake seemed to offer an open route across ash - instead I spend a lot of time immersed in impenetrable trees! Avoid these trees at all cost!
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Colorful surroundings
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As I rose, Balcony Lake came into view. The big summit is Coldwater Peak and the "bench" is at the left hand edge of the picture.
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I made frequent stops to snack!
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Heart Lake - you can see where it got its name.
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One of the two Twin Lakes and the north ridge of Mt Whittier in the background
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The ridge I followed to the summit
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The easiest part of the ridge - note the elk trail! There were elk trails the whole way up the ridge.
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This bull was snoozing on the snow when I disturbed him.
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The summit seen from the top further south.
Here I should have followed the ridge across (as was my plan). Instead I followed a large elk trail into the flank expecting to pop out rapidly, there I encountered a few cliffs and other stuff that was not visible through the trees.
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Below the summit - I came up the right hand ridge
Once back out in the open there were once again elk highways!

I will continue with a second post.
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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Peder
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by Peder » September 21st, 2012, 5:29 pm

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The summit
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The ridge I came up heads down to the left
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Mt Minnie's second summit (!)
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I went toward the second summit and here the elk cross the ridge to descend directly toward Coldwater Lake! I saw two such passages.
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The terrain got too steep (plus lots of trees), so I descended this to come out below the ridge.
I was getting less keen to descending my planned ridge, as it was hard to get to and perhaps the return would also be a challenge. So when I saw a bull elk some ways below me, I decided that perhaps it was more fun to chase elk. So I continued down hill and started following elk trails with my camera ready and zoomed. I was walking into the wind when I met a small herd.
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I was lucky!
Here is a two minute video of the elk.
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Later I scared another flock, but most remained out of view.
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Coming back down toward Balcony Lake
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When not on elk trails (and even when on elk trails), the easiest way to move is on logs. Remember that all logs are 32 years old and rotting! The Lakes Trail is in sight. Left of this log there is the excellent elk trail that I followed on the way up (recommended).
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Coldwater Lake
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Mt Minnie
18 miles; 4,800' EG
Last edited by Peder on September 21st, 2012, 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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hlee
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by hlee » September 21st, 2012, 5:35 pm

That is quite a trek!! I loved reading your TR though. Every time I hike out in the vicinity of MSH (not like I've been there a whole heck of a lot) I love it more and more, and I am already wondering when I can go there next.

We were there on Monday, but it was pretty smoky so a little disappointing, but still a great hike! I managed to not fall on my face, which was good.

I don't know a whole heck of a lot about elk, but weren't your worried they would come at you, instead of running away from you?

Hannah

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
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rick6003
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by rick6003 » September 21st, 2012, 5:41 pm

Great!! but Elk are herd animals. Birds are flocks. Goats have Kids. Deer have fawns. Elk have calfs.Beavers have kits.

Forgot my point! Just ramblin' on.

Very funny though, we do think of Elk as Forest dwellrs but there sure are a lot of them on the plains here.

Hlee, they most likely will always run or just ignore you. But if you happen to be in the wrong spot they will run right over the top of you.

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Chase
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by Chase » September 22nd, 2012, 8:54 am

Peder knows the best hikes!

pablo
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by pablo » September 22nd, 2012, 9:24 am

Hi Peder,

Great report, route, and pictures. Got a map of your GPS track? What prevented you from doing the complete loop back to the TH along the ridge - MSHM restrictions?

You might have been following old trail on the way to Minnie Peak as before the eruption there was trail along the ridge (I've never been on it and have no direct knowledge of what the trail was like). From the 1963 GPF map it used to be the 211 Lakes Trail which was re-routed after the eruption.

Thx,

--Paul
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The 63 GPNF map with the patchwork of public and private land showing the old alignment of the and numbering of the 211.
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Crusak
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by Crusak » September 22nd, 2012, 10:24 am

Chase wrote:Peder knows the best hikes!
Well said, Chase. So much to see around the Mt Margaret backcounry. Great pics, Peder. Did you go alone on this one?

This is my kind of hike: less than 20 miles & less than 5000' EG. :lol:
Jim's Hikes

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mayhem
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by mayhem » September 22nd, 2012, 7:42 pm

Money!! I watched your Elk movie that you did not post :). You must have done the Kwai Chang Cain walk or he Master Po shuffle? Dang cool!

Well you posted but did not embed it :))
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Peder
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by Peder » September 23rd, 2012, 10:44 am

mayhem wrote:Well you posted but did not embed it :))
Mayhem - Only you can do that for me! I'm not tech savvy.... :oops: :oops:
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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Peder
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Re: 2012-09-20 Mt Minnie – Mt Margaret Backcountry

Post by Peder » September 23rd, 2012, 5:18 pm

I don't know a whole heck of a lot about elk, but weren't your worried they would come at you, instead of running away from you?
I don’t think they would ever charge anyone. Not that I’m not careful: I met the same herd about 200 yards further down the elk trail and they were hidden in some thick vegetation. It sounded as if they were 10 yards from the trail; I made a wide detour around that area, as I did not wish to be hit by a scared elk popping out of the shrubbery.
Great!! but Elk are herd animals. Birds are flocks. Goats have Kids. Deer have fawns. Elk have calfs.Beavers have kits.
Forgot my point! Just ramblin' on.
I know your point Rick: I termed my group of elk a “herd” and later called them a “flock.” I Danish a “flock” (flok) would normally be used for winged creatures, but you can also use it for other animals, such as cows or elk. This is not the case with English!
Peder knows the best hikes!
Ha Chase! After looking at Pablo’s maps (see his post below yours), I may have a killer hike for next year: Coldwater Lake – Snow Lake – Heart Lake – Mt Minnie north ridge and a descent using my route from Thursday. I may need a tarp… :)
Got a map of your GPS track? What prevented you from doing the complete loop back to the TH along the ridge - MSHM restrictions?
A GPS track will follow. I had hoped to follow the ridge north of Coldwater Lake from the (closed – to reopen in 2013) Coldwater Ridge Visitor Center up to Mt Minnie and return over Heart Lake and the Lakes Trail. As I recall from earlier research the land on the north side of the ridge belongs to a forestry company and the MSHNVM forbids all access to the area north of the Coldwater Lake, as it is in the restricted area where you must remain on the trails.
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The ridge north of Coldwater Lake. Mt Minnie at the back. You can see one of the roads; the other road is on the back side of the ridge.
If this was not the case, there are two forestry roads close to the ridge on the north side of Coldwater Lake that would seemingly offer an easy approach to Mt Minnie.
You might have been following old trail on the way to Minnie Peak as before the eruption there was trail along the ridge
Paul – The trail on your map seems to pass on the north side of the peak. As far as I can tell, the trail on the map roughly follows where there is now a disused dirt road on the western end. That trail is approximately the route I was planning to follow back to Heart Lake.

I love your old maps – pretty much all the trails have changed since then!
This is my kind of hike: less than 20 miles & less than 5000' EG.

Sure is – it is also my kind of hike! :D
Some people are really fit at eighty; thankfully I still have many years to get into shape…

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