Pioneer - Hyndman - Long Gulch- August 1, 2009
and photos by Lee Lau and Tyler Wilkes unless otherwise noted.
|| Day 1 - History Rock - Bozeman, Montana || Day 2 - 3 - Trespass/Sypes; Emerald; A big peak || Day 4 - Somewhere || Day 5 - 6 - Corral Creek, Fox Peak - Ketchum, Idaho || Day 7 - Warm Springs ; Pioneer - Long Gulch || Day 8 - Corral Creek, Fisher Creek - Stanley, Idaho || Day 9 - Bull Trout to Bonneville ||
Our initial plan had been to ride Pioneer, descend Johnstone Creek, ascend Bear then descend Parker then road-ride back from Elkhorn to our campsite at Trail Creek. Riding Warm Springs Trails off Bald Mountain in the morning meant that we didn't actually start this second half of our day till about 12.30 in the afternoon. Temperatures were already high as we started the 4.5mile gentle climb to the Pioneer trailhead. My head was already exploding with heat when we got to the trailhead at about 1:15.
We pedalled most of the climb up to the Johnstone Creek turnoff and, after about 2200 ft of climbing contemplated our options. Either we could skip the last bit of the climb to Pioneer Cabin and miss out on the view of the Pioneers that had been described as Spectacular or we could descend Johnstone and try to also do Bear and Parker. Tyler reminded me that we were here for alpine views - he was right and we decided to hike and bike up to Pioneer Cabin the last 1,000 ft. This turned out to be more then worth it - the views of the Pioneers were every bit as magnificent as described. With the descent before us, we then dropped down the North Fork of Hyndman Creek lulled by the prospect of more magnificent views and singletrack. However we quickly figured out that this would put in a completely different drainage.
Not wanting to deal with a 15+ mile roadride we climbed back out of N Hyndman, pushed up to Long Gulch and rode Long Gulch out. A note of warning, there's almost 1500 ft of climbing out of Long Gulch so don't think this is an easy trail. The trail is also unlike most Sun Valley trails - it is by no means buff, smooth and fast. There's a nasty rockslide of talus in mid-trail and the last section of trail off the final ridge has embedded square-edged flat-inducing rocks.
This ride offers unbeatable views combined with interesting singletrack and has made me ache to go back and try other variations eg Pioneer - N Hyndman - Bear - Parker or Pioneer - N Hyndman - Johnstone - Pioneer. I would definitely start earlier and probably stuff a lot more ice in the Camelback!
Our campsite at the Trail and Corral Creek junction - shaded in the evening and morning and water close by
Hot, sweaty cook-your brains out climb up
Going up from the junction and looking back to Trail Creek at a small plateau before the last push to the top of Pioneer. Elevation is approx 9,200ft
Shirtless Surrey at 9,200ft elevation
We shamelessly gaped at the views. These peaks are 11,000 - 12,000 ft high
Tyler - it still hadn't sank in that somehow we would have to get back to camp
Sharon and Tyler - still 3,000 ft to go to valley floor
Tyler - contemplateing Indian Paintbrush
Lee cruising sub-alpine meadows
dropping off the Long Gulch ridge. Our trail would wind
around the bare stripped slope on picture right then
climb back UP to the ridge in picture centre
First flat of the day for Tyler on the Long Gulch final ridge descent.
Classic grasslands descents for Lee
Second flat of the day for Tyler - still about an hour to get back to camp but the days are long and the views are still wonderful