Miller Peak (Jun 29, 2018)

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miller_pk_coverConditions: Day hike
Gear: nothing special
Map: USGS Liberty
Area: Teanaway
Stats: 8.58mi, 3165' gain (round trip)

I really wanted to head back to Miller Peak. I don't know why but it could be because I thought I had missed seeing bitterroot flowers this year. Then I saw that some friends had done this trip a few days ago and posted a photo of a bitterroot. That pretty much sealed it that I would head back.

I had the day off but left my alarm on. I wanted to be up early so that I could hit the highways near home before the worst of the morning rush hour traffic. That plan worked out pretty well. I was out of the house about 5:30am and I was at the Miller Pk trailhead (3214') about 8am. Perfect.

I knew there were a couple of stream crossings but wasn't sure how deep they might be. Last time I hiked the trail they would have come in handy. I strapped some crocs to my daypack but I never did need them. All the stream crossings (something like 10 of them) were pretty tame.

The trail starts out pretty flat and continues that way for about 1.9mi (it gains only about 900'). The last creek crossing is right at a switchback in the trail and from that point on, the trail is a steady climb uphill. The day was cool but the climb was really pleasant. Lots of tall trees and I was surprised to see so many flowers in bloom. I had plenty of time to dawdle and enjoy the sights.

At about 3mil (5193') the trail peeks over the ridge. Last time I was at this spot it was a high patch of large yellow balsamroot flowers. Today...not so much. The balsamroot was wilted and well past its prime. From here, the trail drops back off the ridge (the northwest side) and traverses what turned out to be a very green and colorful hillside. There were a couple more switchbacks and then the Miller Pk trail met up with the County Line trail at about 3.6mi (5664'), and then soon after that the trail was back on the ridge. From here the trail stays right on the ridge. I glanced up and hmmm...could swear I saw the head of a mountain goat peering down at me.

I continued up the trail and finally...I saw some blooming bitterroot! Yippee! The closer I got to the top the more certain I got that there was in fact a goat up there. Great. I got just below the top and peeked over the edge and the goat seemed to have backed off the top a a flat spot to the NE. I got to the group of rocks at the top (6432') and dropped my pack...the goat seemed to get a bit curious and headed back my way. I managed to scare him off a bit and he headed back to his flat spot a ways off...I could see him on the ground so I felt like if he did return, I could easy retreat. I had my lunch and just as I was thinking I'd try to get a pano shot of the top...the goat finally pushed me off my rocky perch. I wouldn't say the goat was aggressive or even really curious...just persistent. So, seemed like a good idea to head back down. I quickly packed my things up and headed down the ridge...with the goat following me from a distance. I figured Id be OK if I could quickly get off the ridge and down into the trees. That did seem to work.

As I was headed down I did run into several small groups (total of 7 people). The first group of two I came across I mentioned the goat. I figured I'd give them some warning.

I took my time on the hike down. I was trying to spot as many different kinds of flowers as possible. It was a fun trip down.

Back at the car I pondered how I'd get home. It was heading into a weekend before a big holiday and figured eastbound traffic on 90 would be bad. Then there was the construction over the high bridge with some of the westbound traffic diverted to the eastbound lanes. Then...I figured I'd hit 405 right during rush hour. So I figured the smart think to do would be to drive 97 over Blewett Pass and return home via hwy 2. It might take a bit longer but at least I didn't think I'd get stuck in traffic. That plan worked out well.

Note: The Miller Peak trail is a multi use trail (motorcycles).
Miller Peak Slideshow

(click on map to view a larger version)

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Copyright Janet M. Putz
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