For as often as I was at the top of Fred’s Mountain last winter, I hadn’t been all summer. I started mountain biking a few weeks ago up at Targhee, but am relegated to the cross country trails because of my beginner status and fully-rigid bike. Yesterday was the day to change that, and head up the lift for the first time without ski gear on.
And so I set out to try to understand the bones of my ski hill. Fred’s Mountain, like the majority of peaks on the west side of the Tetons, has a gradual and sloping western face, and a sheer cliff for it’s backside. In the winter, wind lips and cornices disguise this drop, but as Chris and worked our way up and around the peak from the Dreamcatcher lift, we got an incredible view of these cliffs and the eerily moonlike field below them. We were surprised to find swarms of ladybird beetles up at the summit. I don’t know what they were doing there, and I definitely didn’t expect to see them at such a high altitude. Capitalizing on the beetles before their migration season were some Yellow-Rumped Warblers.
We hiked down from Fred’s and across to the saddle between Mary’s Nipple and Peaked Mountain. Chris led me up on to Peaked and showed me the different chutes he had skied the previous winter. They looked a little intense. Like really intense. We continued up Peaked looking at the fossils and geodes we found along the way. Because the west slope of the Tetons still has the sedimentary layers that were formed when they were under the shallow Cretaceous seaway in the western half of the continent, it’s lousy with fossils.
We hiked back to Dreamcatcher just in time to make last chair down. (We thought the lift was open for another hour, so we’re pretty lucky to have made it or it would have been a long hike down!!) I rode the lift down happy to have a new perspective on somewhere familiar.