Distance: 12.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 2830'
I decided to do a day trip instead of a camping trip due to the wet and cold weather forecasted for the weekend. Now that I have time to camp the weather takes a turn for the worse. My original target was Peak 9300 west of McGown Peak above Hanson Lakes.
I started hiking about a quarter to 9:00 am and the first mile was snow free. After a mile the trail was mostly snow covered but somewhat firm and slightly packed down by other hikers. Stanley Lake Road must have just opened as only a few people signed in the wilderness log book. A few miles in I reached a stream crossing and attempted to use a log to avoid getting wet. It did not work as I slipped and fell in waist deep water. I noticed my pants had ripped too (good thing I had shorts underneath). I waded across the stream in close to knee deep water. Luckily I did not get my upper body wet. It took a while to restore feeling in my feet. After making my way through the snow on the trail I crossed another stream via a snow bridge from avalanche debris and headed uphill. I knew there was a trail somewhere leading to Hanson Lakes but I never saw it due to the snow. It was a steep slog through the snow and I ended up on a ridgeline south of Hanson Lakes. There was an impressive rock tower that I thought was Peak 9300. I then noticed another peak on my left which was Peak 9127. Being closer to that peak, I headed for its northeast ridge which was the only viable route as the ridge was heavily corniced. Peak 9300 was also nearby and was not technical but slightly farther away. It was already past 12:30 so I decided to just do Peak 9127. Luckily I was able to go around the cornices by sidehilling in steep snow. At the summit the views were spectacular and the sun came out. McGown Peak was just to the east and I could also see Mount Regan (attempted three times) and numerous other Sawtooth peaks. With a nearly a 6.5 mile trek through the snow remaining, I did not linger long at the summit. Getting off the peak was slow going as it was very steep. Once off the peak I grabbed lunch and then headed downhill back to the trail. My left snowshoe is partially broken and in the softening snow the traction was not good. I took off my snowshoes and made better progress. At the stream crossing I waded through it and it did not feel that cold until my feet went numb shortly afterwards hiking in the snow. Closer to the trailhead I saw a couple of hikers and a runner, the only people I saw all day, a rarity in the Sawtooths.
Although on the chilly side, the weather held up for the whole hike and the scenery was well worth the effort. It was a great time to visit the Sawtooths before it gets too crowded.
|Unnamed rugged point above Hanson Lakes|
|Cornices on the ridge|
|Cornices and loose wet slides|
|McGown Peak from the summit of Peak 9127|
|McGown Peak from the trailhead|