We awoke to the sound of grouse drumming. The grasses growing on the road were wet with dew. We slept in a bit, then set off at 8:06. The walking along road 261 was pleasant. The road didn't descend much, which was good. Eventually we reached heavily traveled Road 408, and followed that east and southeast for several miles to Twenty Mile Pass. A few horse trailers sped past. We took Road 2624 which led down into a cool and moist, beautifully forested area, following Cabin Creek. This area had not been logged in a long while. This road led south 1.5 miles descending, then joined Road 427. This was the end of the easy going. Although the forest service map showed Road 427 extending all the way to the divide, this was not the case. We tried to follow the main trail as it meandered through a lowlands where alder and young spruce sapling grew densely. We saw what we thought was moose tracks.
After a great deal of galumphing we finally found ourselves on Trail 247 which shortly joined the main trail leading up to the divide. This trail was rough with rocks, hard on the ankles and feet. It was so horsey that the smell was almost nauseating. We could not find a clean place to sit down and rest; it was super polluted. There were many creeks all along the way, so there was no need to carry water on this stretch, this time of year. Nearly to the divide, with large patches of snow on the ground, we hauled off for a rest stop hidden in the trees. Ten horses and their riders came down the trail, stopped for a rest nearby, then set off again, going right past us and never seeing us. We heard the lead rider comment to his buddy," Well, you could look at it this way. At least we were the first ones to leave hoof marks on the mountain this year." The great conquerors. Never mind the deer and elk tracks everywhere.
Once they had gone, we continued on our way. The trail was twice as demolished as it was before, but fortunately they had not gone farther than our trail junction. Now on Trail 67 we made the climb to Calder Mountain, while looking for a place to camp. But the ground was covered everywhere with brush. We continued on, very slowly with sore feet. We enjoyed the view away to the south, from the high point of Calder Mountain. Lots of mountains. On the ascent we hiked through a fair amount of snow, but it was patchy and easy to find the trail. We saw two grouse, a female who sat completely motionless, and then 10 minutes later a male grouse right on the trail. He was kind enough to mosey away. He was in full display: chest puffed, fan tailed regally, and shoulder patches flared. We've also seen dozens of beautiful wildflowers: trillium, glacier lilies, yellow and purple violets... Up high they are especially colorful.
Calder mountain. We pitched the tarp by tying the guys to brush. This camp was unique, as the brush was so thick and ubiquitous that we could not find a suitable camping place. It was one of those situations where a tent would not have worked. We camped on the beargrass, and though it was lumpy, we did enjoy a good night's rest. The tarp supports are not visible in this photo, but we secured one ridge guy to the tree on the left, and the other to the fallen stump on the right.
We descended Calder on its south slope, looking everywhere for a place to camp. Finally we settled on a level patch of bear grass, which, if it sounds comfortable, it is not. Bear grass is very lumpy. This trail is not well traveled. These higher mountains are primarily fir forests with bear grass and huckleberry, with alder and willow understory - very thick.