Swan Crest Traverse, Swan Range
Date: July 20, 2029
Trip leader Susanna Girolamo Phillips
Participants: Jacob Fromm and Kristopher Cahoon
I have done this great traverse three years ago. The plan was to start at East Foothill Trailhead, hike up to Rumble Creek Lake, scramble up the gully north of Holland Peak, traverse the north ridge and end off Cooney Mountain down to Smith Creek Pass trailand hike out. This traverse is very popular for many endurance hikers, off-trail-runners etc. This trip is great for the fit hiker. It is a full day of hiking at a steady, sustained pace with an elevation gain of about 5'700 ft and 14 miles (distance and gain are approximately).
We met up at 5:30 AM, Saturday in Missoula and carpooled with two cars. We left one car at Smith Creek Trailhead and one at East Foothill Trailhead, where we started our hike up to Rumble Creek Lake, that is located just below Holland Peak.
During our hike up to Rumble Creek Lake I noticed that one of us was moving slow, so I set a time of return at a certain point, and when we reached that point we were only 35 mins behind of schedule. It took us a little bit longer to climb up the gully, north of Holland Peak, as rock fall was a big problem. One after the other we climbed up and waited for each other to make it safe through the narrow gully. As soon as we got on the ridge everyone felt good, and we decided to hit the ridge. Although, while looking for a safe route finding across the first high point, the search slowed our pace dramatically but we still determined to move on and hoped to get to Smith Creek Pass trail before night fall. At this point we still had 5.7 hours of daylight. Along the way there were some class 3+ moves and an exposed sharp
ridges to traverse that needed good focus. The further north we moved the milder the ridge became.
At 9 PM we reached the high point peak just south of Cooney Mountain. Sunset was at 9:23 PM. We still had Cooney Mountain in front of us. We choose to decent off the west side high point and drop down a safe draw into Smith Creek drainage. At sunset we reached 7'800 ft and started contouring the base of Cooney Mt while dropping down to 7'200ft with the hope to hit the Smith Creek trail. At this point it was dark. By using Jake's GPS device and our GPS tracks on the phone we found the trail. It felt good to be on the trail but we still had a few miles to hike out. We all got back to the car late and safe. We stopped in Seeley Lake and took a power nap before driving back to Missoula.