We needed to get climbing Mt. Willard out of Jim’s system...to me it was a nondescript mountain, with not an attractive thing about it except IT IS THERE and needs to be crossed off the list! This is what we tried for twice before but always ran out of time. So today we got a much earlier start on a very frosty morning with temps about 29°. On the drive over we could see much frost but the road was dry. The sun was out.
When we got to the trail head we saw a rig with an ATV in the back and three people walking up to the old fire tower lookout. We waved goodbye as we took off and they shouted back to ‘have fun.’ It wasn’t as cold as I thought it was going to be…Jim wore longs today and when I got out of the truck I was wishing I had put long johns under my pants. As we began hiking, my face and especially my nose got really cold. Shortly before we got to the trail head, I opened the HotHands and got then in my mitts and it was nice to start out with warm hands. The cold temps were reflected everywhere with hoar frost heaving the rocks out of the ground. We were careful not to slip on the icy frost and frozen ground.
An hour and twenty five minutes later we got to the turnoff for Mt. Pend Oreille...about 20 minutes shorter than last time. The wind picked up, enough so that I had to pull my hood up. Again we walked around Mt. Pend Oreille and headed over toward Mt. Willard and got to the spot we turned around at last time at 11:45…still about twenty minutes ahead of time...plus we gained an extra hour just by getting out the house sooner. The hike down to the bottom of the saddle was not too bad at all and not knowing what to expect, we picked a good spot to go off trail and head up to the top of Willard. There is no trail so we had to bush whack thru 18’ bear grass and lots of rocks. Since the views were hazy today, we couldn’t see too much and there certainly was nothing special on top. I found an old heavy metal stake in the ground, making me believe there may have been fire tower there at one time but did not find any more and we did not find a geological survey marker either, which surprised us in that this peak has a name. To get out of the light wind, we hiked down a bit, sat on a downed tree and ate our lunch.
At the truck we met a hunter who was camped down the road…he said he was camped there for about a week now and had seen about 15 moose, a couple of black bears and one grizzly.
Left home 8:05Started up 9:20
Headed back from Willard 1:15Got to truck 4:20
Total miles hiked 13½ miles
Total hiking time 7 hours