During the last week I'd been wondering what I'd do come the weekend, so despite knowing better I turned to the best resource I had: the 14ers.com forums! Heard from emiller that he planned to go up Father Dyer Peak and over to Mt. Helen, and I thought that sounded like it'd be a blast, so I decided to join him.
We met just after 5 in the Walmart parking lot in Frisco, then headed up the highway to Spruce Creek road and on up to the trailhead. The road isn't too bad, most 2wd cars that have a reasonable amount of clearance should make it no problem (for reference, I drove a 1998 subaru outback up, no problem, just felt the need to dodge certain potholes).
Started up the trail sometime just before 6. Broke above treeline with gorgeous views of the valley below covered in clouds about 6:40:
Also had some nice views of Father Dyer and the ridge leading up it:
Here's emiller coming up one of the last stretches of class 3:
And we summited Father Dyer right around 9 AM.
Summit dedication plaque and summit register tube (appropriately labeled, but missing the endcap, register, and writing utensil - the next folks up might want to fix that):
Gratuitous arms length shot:
And then, we turned our sights toward the ridge:
About halfway over the ridge, about 50-something feet away we see two mountain goats. "Okay", we thought, "we'll keep heading in their direction, and if they don't move off the ridge we'll detour around them.":
Next thing we know, the 4 kids are popping up right in front of us:
(the 4th is just below the other side of the ridge)
Not wanting to get accidentally shoved off the mountain, we decided to go down a bit, and traverse around the lot. Apparently we were rather interesting though, because they kept an eye on us for a while:
Eventually made it back up to the ridge, just in time for emiller to drop his camera, which proceeded to bounce to a rest about 50 feet down. I, being the slightly more used to scrambling/climbing (or more stupid/gullible), was tasked with going to get it:
And thankfully found it in good health! (emiller, you should put the name of it down below, because I whole-heartedly recommend it as a durable camera - not a ding or scratch outside of the reinforced outer edge).
We proceeded without much further drama over to Mt. Helen, summiting at about 12. Summit register over there was complete, if a bit moist (a little water had gotten into the tube).
We then proceeded down the east face of Mt. Helen, eventually aiming for this gully, which took us more or less back to the trail.
And got back to the cars right about 1. Where there had been no one parked there before us, there were 10 or so (I'd guess) cars at the upper parking lot, with dozens upon dozens on the side of the road going down from there.
As far as difficulty, I'd definitely call the East (NE?) ridge of Father Dyer a good beginner class 3 ridge, nothing too complicated, and it's all quite solid. The ridge between Dyer and Mt. Helen is definitely a difficult class 3, with the potential for class 4 if you get off route for whatever reason. I'd say stay on the ridge if at all possible, it's where we made the best time and had the best views from.
Roundtrip distance was 7.57 miles, according to mapmyrun on my iphone. I'd guess it was a little closer to 6 or 6.5 miles, especially if you didn't have to take the detour due to goats.
NOTE FOR GPS TRACK: Ignore the off-ridge bits on the ridge going up to Dyer, don't know how those got in there.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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