Recently we went back to the lands south of Sandy McNabb, where we’ve been taking advantage of the frozen Sheep River. This time we had foothill 732089 in mind, a big sprawling mass that rises steeply above Coal Creek’s narrow valley and looks pretty good from Mount McNabb’s west summit. We knew the back side of it, the south facing slopes, were all grass, so there we were flogging up Wolf Creek trail again (a lot of ice still) to the big meadow, then continuing on and turning off up the west fork trail. (See #4A in Volume 4.)
The meadows were delightful as always. But to get to the south face we carried on to where the trail runs alongside the creek in the narrow valley, then climbed up the bank at 734083. After a band of trees, it was all grass and easy going until we hit the long summit ridge that was treed and strewn with windfall. It was hard to determine which was the true summit out of two bumps, neither of which had a cairn on top despite lots of stones lying around on the ground, all of which made us think that this is a rarely climbed foothill. Just below a third and lower bump was a meadow and finally a view to the west.
We made a loop back to the big meadow on Wolf Creek trail by heading first north then east. The initial drop to the col at 731095 was steep — we swore the topo map was missing at least one contour line. The next bump north (not shown on the top map) we omitted by contouring around on a game trail to a second col on the east ridge. From here we headed straight east up over a transverse N-S ridge that was steep on the far side (another missing contour) to a third col, then up onto another transverse N-S ridge that had a fire circle on top. Dropping off the end to the big meadow was easy, though there was the little matter of the drift fence low down.
You should know the meadow is boggy at its west end and the ice was rapidly melting as we picked our way across it to join the trail. So for anyone thinking of following in our footsteps , or thinking of climbing onto that last ridge — and people do, we saw footprints — I recommend you forgo the meadow and stay in the trees along the meadow’s north edge.