Mount Borah is the tallest peak in Idaho at 12, 662 ft. I've been eyeing it for about 3 years, that's when I first found out about it. Yes, I've lived here 9 years and I only recently learned about it. And there are places people talk about that are closer than the 2 hour drive to Borah, that I've never been to or heard of. That's a draw back to having a husband who grew up here and figures he's saw these places enough when he was growing up and deemed them 'eh' on the worth seeing scale. We don't see them.
A couple of weeks ago I picked a weekend and told my husband to ask his mom if she could watch The Sprout, we were hiking Borah and The Tween was coming with us.
He told one of The Tween's friend's, dad about it and the plan grew by 2...until...until someone planted a seed of doubt. Snowfields, technical climbing and treachery were vocalized. A lack of boots was realized and we became a party of 3 again. I don't mind the expression of...I'm not sure what you would call it, it's just unfortunate that it may have caused someone to over think something they really wanted to try and we had no intention of pushing past anyone's comfort level. We were going at a different time in the season than the nay sayer and we'd read blogs/stories, watched videos from hikers and had spoken with people who had climbed it in the past couple of weeks, so we were feeling fairly confident while maintaining a wait and see attitude. We weren't necessarily going blind but you need to have a first time to appreciate the experience. Unfortunately the second guessing on the friend's part induced second guessing on The Tween's part and his anxiety only rose as we crept slowly up the mountain side. Funny how that works, he psyched himself out and I got calmer as I visualized the task and got closer to it.
|Borrowed from here: http://www.srv.net/~cnicho/ryan/Mount_Borah.htm|
We left our house shortly after 4 am on Saturday and hit the trail head right around 6:30am. The parking lot was full and we could see the lights from the headlamps of hikers who were already on their ascent. Funny story, the night before I reminded the husband to grab our headlamps...he forgot them. I had a flashlight and it was getting light enough that we only needed it for 10-15 minutes.
|Still in the trees.|
Wanting to have a goal, I set a break period at every .10 of a mile. It was difficult for us (gimps, remember!) and if we didn't make ourselves move we might never get there. The 12 year old was unamused and protested but reluctantly kept in line. For awhile anyway. At about 1 mile, according to my Garmin, but I think it was being generous with the distances (several times, we would move a couple hundredths of a mile while standing still, which would have been great if it was happening in real life), we stopped for a snack, a squat and break. After this point, the stopping every .10 mile became stopping every 10 feet. The steepness increased and our pace decreased. The path became less packed and more dusty, with fine loose dirt.
|Coming out of the treeline.|
|Looking up toward Chicken-Out Ridge, the summit is out of frame to the left.|
|Kicking back for lunch.|
My feet took a beating on the decent and I was so so happy to be back at the car. All in all, it was a great day on a difficult hike.
My opinion of Mount Borah... Had we continued on from our active summer last year without the interruptions of surgeries and recoveries, it still would have been challenging but I wouldn't have tired as easily. I think having some conditioning would be helpful. We were also lucky that the elevation didn't seem to "get" any of us. Who knows about our pace or whether or not the mental game regarding COR would have been the same if we were more confident in our physical abilities. Boots are a good idea, though on the down hill I was wishing I had the softer fabric of my sneakers for my toes to crush against. We saw many hikers in trail runners or sneakers, however. Gloves were a great suggestion by our friend who went up the weekend before. There are some sharp rocks and it did help gives a better grip for that little bit of COR we made it across. Walking sticks, we didn't have any but watching some others use them, I wondered if they would have been helpful at times. I don't think I'd buy any specifically for this hike again but if I had some I'd bring them next time. Water, pack some! There's no water on the trail and I was grateful to have my platypus. Snacks, obviously you need some though we packed enough to survive a couple of days. Toilet paper, I packed wipes and baggies for the trash. Other than the outhouse at the trail head, there are very few spots to gain any privacy or maintain modesty on this hike...there are none after you leave the trees. I dropped trou on the side of the mountain about a foot off the trail (on a hill side remember) in between groups, exposed to all who could see. Which hopefully, for their sake, was no one. There was nowhere to hide and my legs were so tired, they shook violently and I thought it would be my luck to tumble down the hill with my shorts around my ankles and my butt in the air. I didn't, thankfully. We made it up to COR, we made it part way across and I think if you maintain your focus forward you'd do fine. You have to pay attention for hand holds and foot placement but it's doable. My husband later commented he was almost grateful we didn't make it over COR because he's not sure if he could have handled the 2-4 hours more a summit would have added to our day. As it was, it took us 8 hours, so everything happens for a reason. Will I/we try it again? Yep, but I don't think I will be like the guy we talked to who was on his 18th trip to the summit. One summit trip up Borah will be enough for me, I'd like to see the view from that side of that mountain.