Who's Out There? Doing What?
Hall Mountain Hike
Trip date: 09/19/2006
Reported by: Holly Weiler
Leader: Holly Weiler – Hikers: Dianne Murray, George Conrad, Don Griffiths, Mark Turner, Bob Conforgood, Will and Emily Jacobs, and Joe Nielsen
This is the story of my attempts to hike Hall Mountain, the 6,323-foot peak looming over Sullivan Lake in Pend Oreille County. That’s right – attempts with an “s,” as in it has taken me multiple tries to hike Hall. I could point out that I keep trying to hike Hall Mountain from the Noisy Creek trailhead, a round-trip distance of fourteen miles. That distance could stop many strong hikers, especially given that the trail gains approximately 3,700 feet elevation from the trailhead to the summit. However, I routinely cover similar distances and elevation gains, so neither one caused my problems with Hall.
Instead, it turns out that I’m famous for choosing inopportune times to tackle Hall. My first attempt was in November of 2004. I planned the trip with a friend who had more enthusiasm than experience, and we decided to camp at the trailhead in order to get an early start. After the temperature dropped to 20 degrees Fahrenheit, she didn’t have any enthusiasm left either. We tried a trip into Metaline Falls for breakfast and a chance to warm up, but even then we only made it as far as the old cabin by Noisy Creek.
My second attempt was slightly more successful, but again, the wrong time of the year to be tackling a steep fourteen-mile hike. It was February 2005, and another of my friends had a new pair of snowshoes. It was a low-snowfall winter, and there was no place around town to use the new snowshoes. I suggested Hall Mountain this time just as a day hike instead of an overnight. It was 11 am before we hit the trail, and we made it as far as the intersection with the trail from John’s Creek before we realized it was getting dark much too fast. We had to abandon our expedition about two miles short of the summit in order to avoid the tricky crossing of Noisy Creek in the dark.
My third attempt was in May of this year. I had volunteered to lead an August hike up Hall Mountain for Conservation Northwest, but thought it would be a good idea to actually make it to the top myself once before I started leading other people up the mountainside. Jeff Lambert joined me for this hike, and if he had not been there to cajole me, I would have abandoned the attempt at Noisy Creek. The creek had turned into a river from the melt off, and the only way to cross was to scoot across a downed log. I’m no fan of heights and wanted to turn back, but Jeff made the crossing look easy, so we continued… for awhile. We made it about a mile past Noisy Creek when our path became blocked by the worst downfall either of us had ever seen. A two-mile section of trail took three hours to negotiate, and we were still two miles from the summit… so I was forced to retreat once again. Dianne Murray, George Conrad, Don Griffiths, Mark Turner, Bob Conforgood, Will and Emily Jacobs, and Joe Nielsen on the hike up Hall Mountain.
By July I was positive that the trail would be cleared of all the downfall, so this time I took my dog and set out for Hall for the forth time. I was wrong. The downfall was as awful as I remembered it being, and I turned back as soon as I realized the trail had not been cleared.
When I admitted to Jeff that I had failed to hike Hall for the forth time, he arranged my opportunity to get revenge on the trail that had stopped me in my tracks on so many occasions. In early August, Jeff and I met Spokane Mountaineer and Forest Service Wilderness Ranger Ken Hayes near Hall Mountain, and the three of us set out to clear the trail (see the write-up on pg. 53 of the Autumn Kinni). It was my fifth visit to the trail, but by the time our work was done, it was too late to make it to the top of the mountain.
By the time my August 19th hike rolled around, I was convinced that Hall Mountain was cursed, or else I was never destined to see the top. It was not a good feeling to have when I had eight people along for the trip! Fortunately the sixth time proved to be the charm, and the view from the top was worth the effort involved!