Peak(s):  French Mountain  -  13,940 feet
Date Posted:  09/13/2021
Date Climbed:   08/29/2021
Author:  BirdMan
 French Group 13ers, from Halfmoon Creek TH   

Sometimes you just have to be flexible... That's what I was thinking when I rolled up to the Halfmoon Creek TH and saw that the road was closed. Uh-oh...


Prior to heading out I had checked the Halfmoon Creek TH status, mostly just to get a feel for the 4WD conditions, and didn't see any cause for alarm. Had I checked the North Halfmoon Creek TH status for Mt. Massive before I left home I would have seen there was a road closure well before the TH I was going for.

I asked a few weary hikers coming down off the mountain how far the TH was. They indicated that the TH was a mile or a mile and a half from the road closure. I wanted to stick with my plan of going for the French group 13ers and then the self help quote, "Don't wish things were easier, wish that you were stronger" popped into my head.

Seems there was nothing to do but set-up camp...


Grab some dinner...


Hang out at the campsite and get ready for a longer than originally planned hike the following day.

Building a cairn for something to do.

Night time setting in.

That cairn is starting to freak me out! It must mean it's time for bed.

I started hiking at 6 am the next morning, knowing there would be additional miles to cover. Unfortunately, it dawned on me (pun intended) that the TH the hikers were referring to was the Mt Massive TH. The French group TH that I was going to was even farther away from the road closure. Nothing to do but keep moving.

After crossing the creek to get to the French group 4WD TH at 10,800' the road becomes very rough at points. Even if I had been able to drive to the creek as planned, I would've parked there and not tried to drive to the 10,800' TH. That road is too rough for me.

The road seemed to go on and on... Though there was some lovely scenery.


At last I reached a clearing and got my first glimpse of Casco peak. French Mountain and the Frasco Benchmark are to the right but not visible in the below.


You stay on the road all the way until you reach the Iron Mike Mine. French Mountain is seen below, right of center.


After Iron Mike's Mine you need to climb a relatively short but steep section to reach the 13,620' saddle.


A closer look at the climb, indeed the hardest part of the day.


The reward for reaching the saddle? More climbing to reach the French Mountain summit! Just kidding. This last part of the route isn't as bad as it looks below.


After a type of false summit there's just a tiny bit further to go.


Until at last! Summit number one for the day.


As has been my custom for my outings this year, I brought my Dad's cane along to the top.


The original plan for the day was to ride the ridge and go for French, Frasco and Casco. Here's a look at the ridge to the Frasco Benchmark from the summit of French Mountain.


After expending additional energy hiking from the road closure I figured it was time to get moving. A little closer to the Frasco Benchmark summit.


I was happy to have made my second summit for the day.

What the heck is a Benchmark anyway?!?

I was on Frasco later than I had hoped and I was feeling a bit worn out with the extra miles on my body. Given all that, I decided the prudent thing to do was to bag the rest of the ridgeline and Casco Peak and simply head down from Frasco and begin the long walk back to the car.

But before doing that I had one last tribute to make.


In memory of Larry Baker, 11/30/33 - 12/15/20.

Rest in Peace Dad.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Here is to Larry and his way awesome son.
09/13/2021 11:35
Great report and I love the tribute to your Dad. Looks like a great route and Casco Peak will be there when you are ready.

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