The go-go-go month.
July in Montana tends to be packed to the brim with concerts, reunions, family trips, weddings, float trips, rodeos, and various outdoor adventures. You name it – if it happens outside, there’s a good chance it’s been scheduled for July. Unfortunately, smokey skies and extreme heat have been putting a real damper on outdoor activities these past several weeks. Despite less than ideal conditions, a couple friends and I decided to take a chance and proceed with our plans climb Electric Peak in Yellowstone Park this past week, hoping to catch a break from the heat and haze.
Scramblin’, scramblin’, scramblin’.
Dave, Murray, and I left Helena at 8:30 am Wednesday (7/21/21), drove 185 miles to the Glen Creek Trailhead near Gardiner, and hiked 6.7 miles into a campsite that Dave had reserved. Early Thursday morning, we followed a pleasant trail, then ascended a much steeper (unofficial) climbers trail, and then finished with a challenging half-hour scramble to the top (guided by cairns). We handled the steep hiking with ease but the last 30 minutes of scrambling was a real test – As you’ll see in the photo tour, it was a bit sketchy in places. Fortunately, strategically-placed cairns along the last quarter mile guided us to the top, otherwise things may have turned out differently. It was 4 miles from our tents to the summit with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain. (photo tour)
Our lucky day.
That 4-mile hike from our tents to the summit took us 2 hours 45 minutes. We enjoyed 45 minutes of perfect summit time with very little wind, temps in the 60’s and no smoky haze thanks to a high-pressure system that was pushing the smoke to the north of the park. It was a real pleasure to be able to simply see off into the distance for a change. A highlight for me was spotting Sphinx Mountain and Lone Peak, 30 miles to our west. The day after our hike the winds shifted, bringing smoke from a big fire in California into the park.
We started down at 10 am. Another challenge came after hiking back to camp, taking down the tents, and loading up the packs. It had warmed up by then, and we were tired – plus carrying packs took a lot of the fun out of walking the last 6.7 miles. It was real slog, but a small price to pay for such a great experience. We arrived back at the trailhead at 3 pm.
According to my OnX app, our mileage totals were 6.7 on Wednesday and 14.7 on Thursday for a two-day total of 21.4 miles. The campsite was half a mile off the route to the summit so that added a couple miles. Depending on your fitness level, it might be best to do the peak as a one-day trip (19.4 miles trip with over 3,700 feet of elevation gain). As for the scrambly part near the top – you’re on your own. I hope those cairns are still there if you make the trip. Get an early start and be careful!
- Photo Tour of the two-day Electric Peak adventure
Wednesday and Thursday – July 21-22, 2021.
- Topo map of the Electric Peak area
Zoom in or out, scroll around.
Below: This map marks hikes that have been featured on bigskywalker.com so far, including several in Glacier Park – Select full screen to expand, zoom in for more detail, or click on a marker for a link to the post.