13-Jul-2003 -- We had finished our work at the Indian Mountain Long Range Radar Station and decided that since it was so close, approximately 8 miles, we should make an effort to find N66 W154. We departed late on the evening of July 13th and the weather quickly turned from moderately moist to downright damp. It appeared from the USGS map that we could access the point by traveling over the Pocahontas mountains by means of an old mining trail and then following the drainage to the Pocahontas river.
As we neared the top of the pass the cloud cover was on the deck and our navigation was solely by GPS. We’d get an occasional glimpse of the valley below but only enough to confirm we indeed were headed in the right direction. Although the trip seemed straightforward it became clear that the boulders underlying the tundra would pose significant trouble along the way.
We traversed four large boulder fields on our descent into the valley floor, and then had to cross the Pocahontas river. We managed to get ourselves stuck in just about every imaginable way; in the river, out of the river, high centered, endoed forward, and flipped backward. We teetered somewhere between the edge of stupidity and the fortunate side of dumb luck. However, we managed to get ourselves extricated every time without incident. All the while the mosquitoes were in full force, a Pig Pen-like cloud following behind, just waiting for that moment of vulnerability when we were forced to slow our four-wheelers to a crawl for the next obstacle.
As we approached the confluence we realized it would be to our benefit if we got off our four-wheelers and hoofed it the remaining ¼ mile. This took us back across the Pocahontas river and into the predominately birch and aspen forest. It took a few minutes to zero in on the confluence, but we managed to find it and braved the mosquitoes sans headnet for the triumphant photograph.
On the return we decided to approach our ascent from the opposite side of the valley and not cross the river again. We thought this would reduce our boulder crossings. We could not have been more wrong. After having traversed 14 boulder fields in the process we attempted to take a little too direct a route back to the mining trail. We were headed down a roughly 30 degree slope until we realized it increased to about 60 degrees with more boulders and scree. We retreated back up the mountain in reverse until we could safely turn around and managed to find a more hospitable juncture to the mining trail. When we eventually descended out of the clouds we were never so happy to see the twin domes at Indian Mountain. All told it was a jarring 5 ½ hour 22-mile trek that we felt well into the following week.