Same place, different year

Having rested after our long journey from Seattle, Finn and I are ready to conquer Brundage Mountain.

The ski resort sits just within the Payette Forest, and is open for hiking and mountain biking in the summer months. Since it's almost our back yard, it's the easiest place to get to that still feels like we're in the middle of nowhere. Especially because lift-assisted mountain biking doesn't start until later in the week.

I put Finn's Garmin GPS collar on him and tuck my own GPS receiving unit in my hydration pack. [My next blog entry will be about this very cool high tech toy.] This trip, I'll finally know exactly what distance we run. Years past, I've been guessing because there aren't any trail maps with accurate distances for the mountain's trails.

Living at sea level most of the year makes the climb up Brundage - starting at 6000 ft and peaking at just under 8000 ft - a challenge for my pulmonary-cardio system. I'm not fully acclimated yet. So rather than try to slowly run up Elk trail with its big gentle switchbacks that leave little excuse for walking, I steer Finn toward the direct uphill route few people use. Hike up, then run down - when gravity is my friend.

The morning is gorgeous, sunny and cool. About half way up, under some trees, we find enough snow for Finn to play in.

Finn cooling his jets.

Seeing this much snow hugging the shady spots, I realize I'm not going to see many of the wildflowers I hoped for. I did find some arrowleaf balsomroot blooming beside the trail shortly after we rejoin Elk, close to the summit.

There's a big, gorgeous old fallen tree that has become a favored place for Finn to pose each summer. Behind it are its still-standing brethren. All are silvered and bare from years of snow, wind, and sun.

Finn posing before weathered old stumps.
You can see the small rounded GPS antenna on Finn's neck; there's a long, thin VHF antenna that curves with the collar to a position above his neck that transmits to my receiver (you can see it in the photo below). The purple loop is something I added to the orange collar so that I'd have something to grasp quickly if necessary. The collar and its antennae don't slow Finn down a bit.

On a shoulder near the summit, Finn turns mountain goat.

There's a chipmunk under there somewhere.
From the summit, a great view toward McCall, with a chair lift offload station in the middle-ground, and Payette Lake and Little Payette Lake in the background.

The climb's reward.
Down Elk trail we run, Finn joyfully leaping off trail every time a chipmunk chirped. My day's mileage: 8.9 miles. Finn's: 10.1. Finn's would be much farther if the chipmunks didn't immediately climb trees and tease him from the safety of their perches.

Rebecca WallickComment