Sweeney Peak, Bitterroots
Date: September 26, 2018
Trip leader: Vick Applegate
Participants: Edna Blanchfield, Eileen McGurty and Samson, Tom Shreve, Vick Applegate
This hike was a spectacular Fall day despite a cool blustery summit-wind. Fall colors highlighted the alpine landscape dominated by yellow/gold alpine larch. A portion of the route is within the 2017 Lolo Peak burn area. There seemingly out-of-season in full bloom were infrequent groups of pink fireweed, white yarrow, yellow arnica and blue asters. Bluebirds, Clark’s nutcrackers, northern three-toed woodpecker, ravens and Townsend’s solitaire were active along the route.
Much of the east ridge route has been burned over by the Lolo Peak fire of 2017 so hikers will find fallen logs to go over or around and ash soils to tromp through. Heads up for occasional burned-out stump holes and falling snags.
Samson, Eileen’s Italian Alps Sheepdog provided motivation to crawl over downed trees, boulders and provide water breaks. Thanks Samson!
Vick, a ham radio operator, set up a portable radio and antenna on the summit while the other TRMs enjoyed lunch and the view of surrounding landscape. He contacted 31 other radio operators spanning from New Hampshire, Quebec, Michigan, Arkansas, Arizona to Idaho. Three contacts were with radio operators also on summits in Idaho, Oregon and Texas.
Note: This hike is well described in Hoyt’s Bitterroot Mountain Summits guidebook. Just go beyond the apex in the trail #393 going down the trail a couple hundred feet and then cross the live water stream to access the non-system trail. I left at the apex and missed the much easier trail route up to the ridge.