Kendall Peak – 13,451 – “Spencer Peak” – 13,420 – Mountaineer Peak – 13,441 – Mt Rhoda – Whitehead Peak – PT 13109, PT 12829

RT Length: 12.88 miles

Elevation Gain: 4571’

I parked at 10870’, just after the junction for Kendall Gulch and Deer Park.  My truck could have easily made it to Deer Park, but as some of you know, I don’t like passing other vehicles on narrow dirt roads.  I’d rather walk the extra miles.  It was still raining when I made it to my parking spot, and I was soaking wet from the hike earlier, so I changed my clothes and made it an early night.

It was supposed to rain starting at noon (it did) so I wanted to make it an early day. This was going to be a long ridge hike, and I wanted to be off the ridge by noon.

I was on the trail at 4:30am, following the road south for a mile to Deer Park

There was a great place to camp for the night, and this was also where my hike (which I’d made into a loop) would end.

I continued following the road.  I was supposed to follow the road until 10930’, where I was supposed to meet another road and follow that, but I never came across the road.  Later on in the day, I was able to see the road from another mountain, but it was one of those roads that hasn’t been used in several decades (if not longer) and is completely overgrown.  In the daylight I was able to make out bits and pieces of it, but at night, it was completely invisible. No worries though!  I found a simple solution.  At 11,300’ I left the road and headed northeast, aiming for the ridge I could see and treeline.

Now in the basin, I could see a faint trail.  I followed that trail to the saddle

Once at the saddle I turned left, and followed the ridge to Kendall Peak.

Here are some pictures of the route, which was all class 2 and straightforward.  I was so glad I chose to do this hike instead of taking the gully from Kendall Gulch (which I’d tried and failed to ascend the last time I was in the area).  This route was much easier.

I summited Kendall Peak at 6:55am

Kendall Peak:

Here’s looking back on the route in and the saddle.  I turned and made my way back there.

Here are some close up pictures of the route back to the saddle.

Once at the saddle it was my goal to head east, but I was worried the terrain was too steep, and I couldn’t see a trail to get across.  I went for it anyway, and ended up stumbling across a very helpful game trail. 

Once safely on tundra, I turned right and headed west up to the summit of “Spencer Peak” (unranked). This was all class 2.  In fact, the entire day was class 2.

From the summit of Spencer Peak, you can see Mountaineer Peak and Mt Rhoda to the southeast

I turned left again, and followed the rocky ridge south. 

I then turned left again, and followed the tundra southeast towards Mountaineer Peak

I summited Mountaineer Peak at 8:30am

Mountaineer Peak:

I could easily see Mt Rhoda (unranked)  to the south, and headed that way.  This was an easy tundra stroll

To summit, I went to the right of the block tower, and found more tundra (no need to climb up the tower).

Mt Rhoda:

From the summit of Mt Rhoda, here’s looking back on Mountaineer and Spencer

Continuing the loop, I headed south towards Whitehead Peak (unranked), which was another easy, tundra stroll

The summit was flat, but you couldn’t beat the views!

Whitehead Peak:

Here’s looking back at Mt Rhoda

And now on to PT 13109. I headed west, following the ridge

Here’s my overall route

And some step by step pictures

The last bit to the summit was on a bit of an airy traverse, but still class 2, just narrow

I summited PT 13109 at 9:45am

PT 13109:

Here’s looking back at Whitehead and Mt Rhoda

I continued west, towards PT 12829

I came across some ptarmigans along the way

At the saddle I came across an open mine shaft… then continued up the ridge

From here I could see the route I took that morning, and I could actually see the old road, or what was left of it (directly above the cairn)

I continued west down the face of PT 12829.  It was my goal to link up with the Whitehead Trail.  I do not recommend this. Serious route finding is required.  Instead, take one of the many trail that will take you back to the road you hiked in on.  In any event, here’s my route down

I swear there’s an actual trail here… I kept losing it, but then finding it again

I eventually came to Deer Park Creek, and that campsite I mentioned earlier

I then followed the road back to my truck

I made it back to my truck at 11:45am, making this a 12.88 mile hike with 4571’ of elevation gain in 7 hours, 45 minutes.

On to the next trailhead!

Grand Turk – 13,167, Sultan Mountain – 13368, Spencer Peak – 13,080

RT Length: 10.36

Elevation Gain: 3539’

I spent the night dispersed camping at the Molas Trailhead, because the views there are amazing.  Added bonus:  I was able to talk with trail runners who had been along the trail to the Vestal Basin, and learned (at least to the Beaver Ponds) it’s all melted out and there aren’t any new downed trees.

I woke up at 4:30 am and drove to the Little Molas Lake Trailhead.  The gate to the campground was still locked.

It was still ark when I started out.  I followed the road through the campground, staying right on the one- way loop.

After hiking along the road for 1 mile, when I saw this sign to my left, I headed north through the trees (I turned right)

I came to a low and large outcropping of boulders, and turned right again

I then followed the ridge northeast

I crossed a small creek, and continued heading northeast. 

There were game trails in the area, and I followed them when I could, but mostly, I kept heading northeast, towards a large creek (crossing a smaller one in the process).

As I was hiking, I could see the gully I’d eventually need to ascend.  I kept heading towards it.

I came to a larger creek, and crossed it on a snow bridge.  Then I stayed right and walked along a willow-lined plateau

Here’s the overall route

Once in the basin, I made my way toward the gully

Today the gully was dry where I ascended, I was even able to pick up a trail towards the top.

At the top of the gully the snow started, and I began heading northeast.

This is where I was headed, towards Spencer Peak

I gained the ridge, and picked up an obvious trail.  I followed that trail east. I could have just gone up and over Spencer Peak at that time, but I chose to follow the trail and summit Grand Turk first, by skirting the north side of Spencer.

Here’s a look at the rest of the route.  I did Grand Turk first, and then Sultan, but you could do it in reverse as well.

Here’s the route I took

And some closer images of the way to Grand Turk

I summited Grand Turk at 7:35am

Grand Turk: 

Now to head over to Sultan Mountain

I re-traced my steps west, following the ridge

And then followed the ridge all the way to Sultan Mountain. This was all class 2 and very straightforward.

I summited Sultan Mountain at 8:40am.  Check out those views!

There wasn’t any place to set my camera down on the snow to take a picture, so I took a selfie with my phone.

Sultan Mountain:

Now to turn and head back to Spencer Peak

Here’s the route I took (dotted line is the route I took in)

I retraced my steps, and then took the scree slope to the saddle

The scree slope had a well-defined trail, but it had been washed out in areas by sliding rock, so careful foot placement was a must.

Back on the saddle, I headed up Spencer Peak.

Just like the rest of the day, this was class 2

I summited Spencer Peak (unranked) at 9:30am

Spencer Peak:

Now to head back the way I came in.  I followed the obvious trail west to the saddle

To descend, I looked for this obvious rock formation

Then I stayed as high as I could so as not to need to regain elevation

It should be noted, by this time in the morning, the snow was complete slush.  Snowshoes wouldn’t have worked because the suncups were terrible.  I was reduced to wading through the slush, with my socks and shoes sopping by the time I made it to the other side.  I’m not sure gaiters would have helped.  I now headed back down the gully and into the basin

Now is a good time to get a look at Little Molas Lake.  That’s the direction you need to be headed to make it back to the dirt road, and the campground

Once at the far end of the basin I turned right, and headed southwest to cross the creek

And then continued heading southwest

Always heading towards Little Molas Lake

I eventually made it to the road, and followed that back to my truck

I made it back to my truck at 11:15pm, making this a 10.36 mile hike with 3539’ of elevation gain in 6 hours, 30 min.

On to the next trailhead!