Jolly Mountain

     After 11 years I had been eager to get back to Jolly Mountain. This year I have seen it from Navaho, Iron, Johnson, Malcolm, and DeRoux peaks. I was definitely overdue for a return trip. This hike begins at Cayuse horse camp just as you enter Salmon La Sac. The camp has been completely remodeled since my previous visit. There are now a number of campsites but much less day parking. There is no information on where hikers can park. There is a day parking lot near the trailhead that was all horse trailers. Across from it is space near a big dumpster with no signs. I parked in the last space with the trailers and hoped for the best. I met a couple on the trail who said a ranger suggested parking near the dumpster. I came back with no ticket so all was well. I can't guarantee where hiker parking is allowed so take your chances. This day looked to be very cloudy on the west side. I opted to drive a little farther to try and get some sun. The forecast was much better for the east slopes although high winds were expected. 

     The trail starts near a horse corral and is very smelly for the first 100 yards. Thankfully the smell went away after that. My recollection was of a forest walk which had a clearcut section to go through. I knew that there was more logging in the intervening yards. I didn't know how much. If you like open terrain with good views out this trail now qualifies. The trail breaks out into the open after less than a mile and stays there for at least 1 1/2 miles. There are three or four logging intersecting logging roads which have narrowed down to trail width. At each intersection go straight ahead. One of them has much more horse prints going to the left. The straight ahead trail looks like a dry stream bed. Forget the nice looking trail left. Go straight ahead up the rock filled trail. This trail has very few switchbacks. Mostly it goes straight up or makes long traverses. The forest reappears just before the crossing of Salmon La Sac Creek. There is still water running but it is easy to step across. Once across the creek the trail follows the drainage straight up towards Sasse Ridge. Several sections are fairly steep but mostly the grade is moderate. There were many huckleberry bushes but almost no berries. Flowers are nearly done on this entire trip as well. Only a few were seen on the ridge top. A trail to Paris Creek is met at 3 1/2 miles. Continue right and up hill. At 4 1/2 miles the crest of Sasse Ridge is met. For the first time I could hear the wind howling. The sky was mostly clear with a few clouds and a cool enough temperature to be very comfortable. From the ridge top I could see up the valley to the west to Cooper Lake. The peaks of the crest went in and out of sight as thick clouds piles up along the crest.

     From the ridge top the route follows a horseshoe pattern left curving 180 degrees to Jolly Mountain which is across the valley of the West Fork Teanaway River. The trail is just below the ridge most of the way around and today it provided a great wind block. The tree tops shook but there was only a gentle breeze along the trail. The trail climbs most of the way around the horseshoe. At the midpoint an intersection with a trail to the Middle Fork Teanaway River. In fact, it is an extension of the trail I took last week on the way to DeRoux Peak. On the way to the ridge top I followed horse prints. On the ridge the trail was torn apart by motorcycles. It wasn't bad on the flat sections. On steep sections it was a deep trench filled with loose rocks and loose dirt. Some of the trenches were more than 2 feet deep. This would be a really bad trail when running water turns it into a creek. As I approached the summit the wind hit me full force. Gusts must have been at least 30 mph. When I was here before there was still some remnants from the lookout. Now it is all gone and a semicircular stone wall has been built. The wind break was vert much appreciated. I was able to sit down behind it and get out of the wind. Even so, I put on most of my extra clothing. It may be summer but it felt like November. Mt. Stuart had a few clouds but they soon moved on. Most all of the Teanaway Peaks were visible. Hawkins was especially prominent. I could see the summit of DeRoux Peak as well. This is not a popular trail and I was not surprised to make it all the way up without seeing anyone else. I managed to spent nearly an hour on top thanks to the wind break.

     The trip down was fairly easy. Navigating the torn up mess of a trail near the top was the hardest part. As I rounded the horseshoe I met two women backpackers. They came up from the West Fork Teanaway on the way to a loop trip. There was no water after Salmon La Sac creek and I hope they were able to find some near the ridge top. After dropping off the ridge top I met three horse riders who left there horses below and were hiking up. Lastly, I met the couple who parked next to the dumpster. Three groups in one day is heavy usage for this trail. It took me 2:51 going up and about 2:40 coming down. The route is 12 miles round trip with 4100' gained.