Ascent of Rhodes Peak on 2008-08-02

Climber: Ryder Irvine

Date:Saturday, August 2, 2008
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Rhodes Peak
    Elevation:7930 ft / 2417 m

Ascent Trip Report

I followed Ken Jones' directions to the Blacklead Mountain trailhead to a tee, even got me there in the dark friday night. I camped at the top of Blacklead.
I left on a short planned notice on Friday night from Hayden, ID at 4:50pm towards Missoula. Mile 0.0 It was 7:25 when I got to Missoula. Mile 170. I went through town and then stopped in Lolo for gas and a quick bite to eat. It was getting dark enough I knew I would not be able to hike down to Goat Lake as I would have like to. At mile 182 I turned onto Hwy 12 towards Lolo hot springs. At mile 214 I was at the ID-MT Border and the pass. Heading down I reached Parachute Road at mile 227, 8:35pm. Another 27.7 miles of slow going rough road through what looked like a burn in the dark, I arrived at the top of Blackhead at 10:10pm. My dog and I camped here.
In awoke around 4:45 as it was just getting light out. I fixed up some breakfast and got my gear together and started down the trailhead at 5:50am. Previous trip reports had the trail starting from the parking lot about .4 miles north of Blacklead mountain down the jeep trail. This has a sign closed to MV's so you have to start walking at the top of Blacklead.
From the former parking area, a trail goes North (the ridgeline scramble) West (down towards the road) and East (to Goat Lake) The trail east headed down the gulch on a switchback path. At the bottom there was a spring for water. A short distance more there was an old mining site and what I assumed was the grave of Billy Rhodes as I had read about. A deer met us on the trail at this point.
The hike was an easy down hill and flat hike on a good, but not a high traffic trail all the way to Goat lake, roughly the 3.3 mile marker. I didn't see any fish jumping, but the bugs were thick near the lake.
From the lake I found numerous trails leading in the right direction and eventually crossed the creek and got back on the main trail towards Williams Peak. There is a good trail once you start the ascent up towards Willams Peak. I ran into an elk on the trial here. At the crest of the ridge the trail is hard to see, but some small cairn's can lead you in the right direction. There was a large amount of snow on the East ridge, some parts covering the trail. Again the trail drops into the gorge on the east side of Williams Peak. Snow runoff made the area wet and lots of small streams running down. There was a small lake at the bottom where the trail levelled out. The trail through this part vanished and then came back several times, so you spend a lot of time trying to find the right course. At the saddle there seams to be some faint trails coming from the Southeast, my guess down to Williams Lakes. The trail becomes better, although I think it is mostly maintained by the deer, elk and goat population. It is a steady climb up to the next saddle, where snow competely covered the trail. I started the scramble up to the top from the saddle point. I later noticed the trail along the east ridge below me, but thought my route was definitely a better option. Not a hard ascent, only long. I reached the summit at 10:00am. I had a lot of problems with my GPS, probably cost me about 30 minutes of downtime on the trip up.
At the top there is a nice register in a steel pipe. There was no pen or pencil in the register so I had to use a piece of lead from my survival kit. I should have brought a pen and left it there, but for some reason I left it sitting in the truck. If anyone is heading to the top, please replenish the register. There was also reports that the register contained grease, but there was none of that. The register has a lot of history of the area and the peak that I found interesting. I spent almost half an hour on the top, and then it looked like weather was moving in so I started back down. While I was there the clouds that came in actually masked the surrounding mountains.
The hike back was uneventful, and the final climb back to Blacklead mountain was tough.
Total mileage on the GPS was 14.54 round trip. I saw one elk, 3 deer on the trailhead. No other people, but footprints indicated someone had hiked into Goat Lake and back out while I was on the summit trail.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:6010 ft / 1831 m
    Extra Gain:2710 ft / 826 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14.5 mi / 23.4 km
    Route:Trail #508
    Trailhead:Blacklead Mountain  7340 ft / 2237 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Drizzle, Pleasant, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:4 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 50 Minutes

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