Ch-paa-qn Peak, Nine Mile Range, MT
Date: May 4, 2019
Trip Leader: Susanna Girolamo Phillips & co-leader Tom Jones
Participants: Lou Herritt, Jim Greenfield, Doug Thorsen
A few days before the trip I called the Ninemile Ranger Station to check if any of the roads to the trailheads were open. I was recommended to wait until the end of May to hike the trails because of the amount of snow still found above 5'000 ft.
I decided and encouraged everyone to bring skis or snowshoes and try to drive as far as we can up to the road to Chpaaqn trailhead # 707, located at about 5'700 ft, that starts on the southwest ridge. This trailhead takes you straight to the summit.
We meat in Missoula and carpooled with two cars. To our surprise we were able to drive all the way up to about 5'200 ft before ditching the car on the side road. On the drive up we did see a black bear. It showed great foresight that Tom was prepared with bear spray.
Two of us brought skis and the rest had snowshoes. No need for snowshoes! The snow was so well packed down, the entire out and back could be done one foot.
Because it was my first time on this mountain, the route finding was a team effort. Jim with its GPS device, Tom our scout guy, we all worked together on making sure we didn't get off the rout.
From the base of the summit to the top, the snow still covered most of the terrain making the skiing up hill easier. By the time we reached the summit high clouds started rolling in and the wind picked up. We took a short lunch break and enjoyed the magnificent views of the Mission Mountains, Flathead, Swan and Bitterroot Mountains before the descend.