Peyton, Lily and I woke up early to head out to this one. When we left I was not completely sure that we were going to do Ch-Paa-Qn. There were two other peaks in the area that may have been Easier. Mount Edith was definitely easier as I had been up there before and the was an un-named summit that looked fairly easy. Charlie (the dog) was to tired to make the trip today and he went back in his bed when I tried to bring him. I guess that he was worn out from the last two days.
Route: I left from Missoula on I90 West and took exit 182 North and followed the signs to the historic Ranger Station. I should have stopped and got some pictures but I was focused on getting up to the trail head. When you get to the Ranger station stay straight and follow the signs to Edith Peak staying on Edith Peak road. After about 10 miles you will see a nice big parking area on the left. This parking area can easily hold 10-15 cars. The road up to the trail head is doable by almost any vehicle. I took a mini-van up there but you definitely would want to take it easy as there are some large rocks that could easily take out an oil pan. A vehicle with a little more clearance is definitely recommended.
Trail: The trail is very easy to follow until you get to the rocky peak and then it is a scramble for the last half mile to the summit. The pictures below show the trail throught the woods at the beginning and then the rock scramble looking towards the top of the summit.
I was using my FT857d on 30 watts with a SuperAntenna MP1. I have experimented with a dipole but just like to be able to tune the MP1 for all bands with a simple setup.
When I pulled into the trail-head we were the only car there. The temperature was about 50 degrees and the kids were begging me to put on their jackets. I refused to let them. It was not 5 minutes later that we were heading up the first incline that they would have been taking them off...and they agreed they were not cold anymore.
The trail is well marked. There are actually many ways up to the summit. We followed the trail 3 miles to the sign below and then followed the sign for the 1/2 mile hike up to the summit. When it comes to easiness this is the easiest route to stick to a trail and shorter distance up the rocks...but it is longer at about 3.5 miles. If you want to make it shorter hike in about 2.5 miles and then cut off the trail to the Right and start heading towards the summit. This will cut off about 1 mile but you are strickly cross country up to the top. Either way is not to bad. When I was there someone had stacked rocks at the good point to head of the trail to the North.
When we started heading up the summit at the sign above Lily started to get a little tired. With a little motivation to make it to the rocks she was having a blast getting up the rocks and her tiredness miraculously went away. They had a blast climbing up the rocks. I had to slow them down at times and tell them to be safe.
The pictures below are all from the summit or near the summit. The views are amazing to the North into the Mission Valley, S. East to the Missoula Valley, South into the Bitteroot and West to I90 Corridor.
View to the South into the Bitteroots.
Looking South East towards Missoula Valley
We happened upon the Geo Cache at the top which was cool because this is something that we enjoy doing with the kids. It is awesome to get them out in the woods and look for these.
Peyton and Lily Enjoyed talking on the radio at the top. I should have got a Picture of Lily on the Radio and some video but I did not think of it at the time. A special thanks to everyone that was patient with the kids on the air and worked with them while they were doing reports. This required a lot of patience with me trying to juggle getting them to talk loud enough, hold the PTT down, and listen and repeat what I was telling them. A special thanks to Randall ND0C who came back on and had a short conversation with Peyton. He was so happy that someone talked to him and told everyone about it when we returned home.
The log Book: 22 Contacts all on 20m with 3 S2S Contacts from NS7P, W1DMH, and N0BCB. I also talked to Oliver W6ODJ in the bay area california who was excited to hear what SOTA was all about. He said that he was to old to activate but may look into Chasing. I am not sure if AA4Q was on a summit or not. I thought I remember him saying that he was but did not have the information in my log.
On the descent down we took the shorter more direct approach to the trail. This required a lot more scrambling down the rocks and cross country movement but it took about a mile off of the trip back to the van. We ran into about 5 other groups of hikers on the way up and enjoyed about 70 degree weather and shade from the trees for the majority of the trip. Even at the summit it was not bad with a slight breeze to keep us cool from the open summit.
At the bottom we picked about 1/2 gallon of Huckleberry's that ended up on ice cream for desert that night. As you can see below the kids were exhausted from the hike and it was a quiet ride home.
The youngest kids (Brookelyn and Colton) were patiently waiting when we returned and happy to see us. Of course they wanted to know when they would be old enough to come with us.
Huckleberry Icecream. Amazing!
Thanks to all the chasers and activators that make this such an enjoyable hobby. My kids enjoyed talking to everyone on the radio and were so excited after they would make a contact. They are already talking about studying for their technician exam.
See everyone on another summits soon!