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Ascent of Sacagawea Peak on 2012-08-11

Climber: Edward Earl

Others in Party:Jim Earl
Debra Zarnt Earl
Devin Earl
Justin Earl
Date:Saturday, August 11, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Hi-Clearance Vehicle
Peak:Sacagawea Peak
    Location:USA-Montana
    Elevation:9650 ft / 2941 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was one of the most sentimental climbs ever for me. My mother passed away in Bozeman a few months earlier due to metastatic breast cancer. On this day, which would have been her 75th birthday, I and my brother Jim and his family (wife Debbie and my nephews Devin (3) and Justin (1)) climbed Sacagawea Pk and scattered a few of her ashes from the summit.

In Bozeman at the intersection of Oak and Rouse, which lies about 1 mile N of Main St, I headed N on Rouse aka MT-86. The highway soon passes under I-90 but with no interchange. After ~3½ miles, the road enters Bridger Canyon through a rock portal. At ~17¾ miles from the freeway underpass, stay straight where Brackett Crk goes R. At ~19½ miles is Battle Ridge Pass and the eponymous campground on the R (E) side of the road. Jim's family and I stayed there the night before the climb. The next morning, we proceeded an additional mile N and turned W on Fairy Lake Rd. Call this point mile 0.0. The road condition is fine at first, but at some later spots a low-clearance car might need to be coaxed. At 0.8 mile we entered NF land. At 1.4 miles we went R at a fork to Fairy Lake CG & TH, passing a large parking area immediately after. At 1.5 miles we proceeded through an open gate. At 1.8 miles is a double switchback, first L then R. At 3.2 miles is another gate (open at the time). At 3.8 miles is another double switchback, first R then L. At 5.7 miles is yet another open gate. At ~6 miles we began to encounter the CG/TH complex, where we stayed R at a fork. Soon thereafter, at 6.1 miles, we parked in a gravel lot.

As we began our hike, Jim and I each carried approximately one ounce of Mom's ashes, and I also carried an Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and a Bible. The trail departs from the near R side of the parking area. For the first ~500' it's a gated road, then a foot trail heads L up some steps and into the forest. For the first 400' elevation gain the trail switches back several times in the forest, then it emerges onto open talus with a view of Hardscrabble Pass (not identified on the 24K topo map as such; it's the one immediately NW of Sacagawea Pk, and its only label is elevation 8963). Jim, Debbie, and I took turns carrying Justin and Devin, though Devin did some of the hike under his own power. After a steep climb up a braided trail with more switchbacks, we arrived at the pass. The topo map shows no trail to the summit of Sacagawea from Hardscrabble Pass, but in fact there is one.

We had lunch at the summit, then Debbie kept my nephews company while Jim and I recited some burial rites from the prayer book and a psalm from the Bible. At the appropriate time during the prayers, we each released our load of Mom's ashes into the wind.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:2030 ft / 619 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Route:Sacagawea Pk Trail
    Trailhead:Fairy Lake  7620 ft / 2322 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:2 Hours 



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