Dates:Sunday, November 16 Crew:GeoTom and Jasper, yukon222, Schmidt Altitude (Babe, Row, Kief, Dude) Summits (in order we gained them):Yellow Hill – 5527’ (unranked), Elbow Peak – 5720’ (#81 Back Court 100), Humerus Hill – 5920’ (#76 Back Court 100), JollyMountain – 6443’ (#60 Back Court 100, #13 Teanaway 20)
Route: Yellow Hill Trail, #1222, to JollyMountain Trail, #1307 Hiking Stats: ~15.25 miles* traveled, 6352 feet gained, 6775 feet descended, 10 hour 1 minute car to car including breaks*According to TOPO!, Green Trails has the mileage around 17.5 Resources: Green Trails Maps No 208, Kachess Lake, and No 209, Mount Stuart
After dropping off Tom’s truck at Cayuse Horse Camp a magical storm swept us all up in Yukon’s Vibe and transported us to the old spur road just past the Indian Camp Ground on the Middle Fork Teanaway River. At first we were fearful we wouldn’t be able to find our way back to Tom’s truck until we found an old manuscript written by The Good Witch Sadie’s Driver describing how to find the Wizard of the Teanaways, the mysterious JimK, who could hopefully show us the way home. And how were we supposed to find this Wizard you might ask? Quite simple stated the manuscript, “Just follow the Yellow Hill Trail, just follow the Yellow Hill Trail, just follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the Yellow Hill Trail!” . . .
We started up the old road for 1.5 miles until we found the start of the Yellow Hill Trail, #1222. Along the way we saw evidence of the other uses this trail is open to, horses and motorcycles, but never encountered any other users the whole day. We were quickly introduced to the bane of this trail – counter elevation. Of course, being the shutter bugs that we are (especially with Tom using a borrowed DSLR) we stopped at each high point to take pictures. The cloud filled Teanaway River valley south of us was especially pleasing and we were surprised to still see the occasional yellow larch dotting the hillsides below us. We made it the Yellow Hill summit two hours after starting out. The trail doesn’t go directly to the summit and we found that the easiest way to find it was to follow the trail past the summit until just before it begins to descend and then work back SE along the ridge crest. There is a U.S. Geological Survey marker on the summit. The summit is thickly forested but there are some peek-a-boo views of the Stuart Range and Eastern Teanaway Peaks.
After Yellow Hill, the trail descends a few hundred feet then climbs back up to Point 5438’ (where we were treated to some great views of Mount Rainier), then back down again, and finally back up to the summit of Elbow Peak, which is a treeless, rounded knob. It took us an hour to travel from Yellow to Elbow. The best views from Elbow are west of both Sasse Ridge (Sasse Mtn, Hex Mtn) and Domerie Ridge (Thomas Mtn, Mt Baldy).
We continued on to discover that the counter elevation between Elbow and Humerus to be the worst of the whole traverse . The trail drops about 500’ feet from Elbow Peak to the lowest point but it has so many ups and downs that the cumulative counter elevation is much more than that . For us, this was the most mentally exhausting part of the trail. Eventually, we turned the corner where the trail makes a bend and heads west for a bit and ran up the next high point, exhaulting in finally reaching our goal only to discover that there was an even higher point just beyond . The problem was that we didn’t write down the elevation of Humerus Hill and since it is not marked on maps we assumed the Point 5750’ written on the map was the summit. We made our way to the true Humerus Hill summit (5920+’) and enjoyed the views NE of the Stuart Range and surrounding peaks. It took us about a hour and half to go between Elbow and Humerus (the name is a play on words with the two peaks it sits between – the humerus is the bone of the upper arm, one of the bones connected to the elbow joint and is a homonym to humorous which is a synonym of jolly).
The wind was really howling on the summit so after climbing to the top of both high points (just to be sure) we descended back down to the trail and had lunch. Then we set off for JollyMountain. Of course, the trail descends to about 5200’ before starting to rise the last 1200’ feet to the summit which wouldn’t be too bad if we hadn’t hit deep snow on the east face of Jolly. Our momentum came to a grinding halt as we trudged up unbroken, knee deep, hard, wet snow . Even though Humerus Hill and JollyMountain are a little over a mile apart (as the crow flies - cacaw!) it took us nearly two hours to hike between the summits! All our hard work was rewarded with the best views of the entire trip. We could see clearly from Three Queens Mountain to Navaho Peak with all the myriad of peaks we have climbed and yet to climb in between! Someone had built a large windbreak on the summit but we didn’t find the “Wizard” in his fortress .
Now that the fun parts were over we knew that the six miles along the JollyMountain Trail back to Tom’s truck would be agonizing. At first, we couldn’t see the trail because of all the snow so we just headed in the direction we thought it should be until we came across the path in the trees. When we arrived at the junction with the Jolly Creek Trail, #1335, we found day-old tracks in the snow. Not having to break fresh trail anymore sure made a difference in our speed . Soon we were following the trail off Sasse Ridge into the Salmon la Sac creek drainage, past the Paris Creek Trail, #1307.1, junction and the final 3 miles to the trailhead. Those last three miles seemed to take forever, especially for yukon222 and Babe. Yukon had been battling an off-again/on-again cold for weeks and spent more time hacking, snorting, and spitting as the day progressed . Babe started off the day feeling fine but developed a cough and slight fever as time went on . Tom and Dude started to get worried that they were going to have to carry their companions off the mountain . Somehow they both found the inner strength to pull through and we made it to the truck at 5:45PM, exactly ten hours after starting.
Wow, what a fun late fall season dayhike! Plenty of timing issues though, trying to squeeze in a long hike plus the extra driving time related to the one-way traverse and two car shuttle. It all worked out well, although 4hrs sleep, 4:15am wake-up call, 3hrs driving, 10hrs of almost non-stop hiking and 3hrs driving sure made for a long day.
Definitely recommend the South-North traverse direction as the views keep expanding the farther north you travel. Plus the Sun is at your back for better photos and vision. Would get old in a hurry if you had to keep turning around to gaze at the broad views of the Stuart Range.
Jolly Mtn summit is very nice with commanding views in all directions. And there is already a 48" high rock windbreak on the summit to shelter your tent or bivy. No water sources (other than snow) along this long traverse until you are in the Salmon La Sac creek basin near the endpoint.
In the original version of the trip report that I abandoned because I didn't know the story well enough to convert it into a whole trip report, Steve was the Tinman, Tom the lion, I was the Scarecrow, Tisha was Dorothy, Jasper was Toto, and the whippets were the winged monkeys.
-------------- Anything stated by me in no way reflects the attitudes or opinions of my wife
written by The Good Witch Sadie’s Driver describing how to find the Wizard of the Teanaways, the mysterious JimK, who could hopefully show us the way home.
Hey, hey - Careful, careful. The Good Witch arrived in the Emerald City and to her surprise, viola - Madonna! Amazing.
Love this trip for a good workout - Sadie, Clover and I didn't make it to Jolly on our trip - but thanks for the info - great description. The "down" off of Elbow was definitely no fun!
Schmidt Altitude wrote:
It took us about a hour and half to go between Elbow and Humerus (the name is a play on words with the two peaks it sits between – the humerus is the bone of the upper arm, one of the bones connected to the elbow joint and is a homonym to humorous which is a synonym of jolly).
What did you just say??? The scary thing is, I think you think this makes sense!
Love the pics from all of you DSLR-ers. I am sooo jealous - and inadequate! Nice job. s.d.
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