Derek had signed us in around 7:15am. It was an overcast day, which we knew from the previous days forecast which meant we expected little to no views from the summit. The temps for the day were supposed to be in the 40's, it was a good temperature to be hiking in.
The trip from the garden parking lot is, or has become a monotonous march into Johns Brook Lodge, roughly 3 miles of gradual elevation gain over rolling terrain. We arrived at the rangers interior outpost around 9:20. We signed in and took a left over the foot bridge, taking us up what i assume at that point becomes the Ore Bed trail, left from there is the old South side trail, presently closed.
The Ore Bed trail from this point up to the 5 way intersection is pure maddening. It is like walking on a cobblestone road, miserable. A good couple feet of snow would make all the difference in trail condition.
The trail is all gradual uphill with a few stream crossings to just beyond the Ore Bed lean-to, from there it is still gradual except for a few steeper pitches. where it follows Ore Bed brook up to the slide. Just prior to coming out onto the slide we put on our micro-spikes, from that point to the summit they stayed on our feet. The ladder and trail above the ladder proved more and more icy as we gained in elevation. There were a few sections above the junction with the range trail that required some scuttling up rock and flow ice, but still manageable with micro-spikes. Up and over the false summit of Saddleback presented a nice short stretch of flat trail, then the final push to the summit.
We arrived at the summit at 1:11pm with no views. Not a big deal as we anticipated this, and were still very happy to be out in the woods, on a peak. Just before we were getting ready to leave the clouds broke up a bit, not enough to reveal Basin's summit, but to see the col between Basin and Saddleback. On our return trip to the intersection with Gothics we enjoyed the views of Gothics, Pyramid, and Sawteeth. On our trip down we opted to put on our crampons. Going down in ice is a lot different than going up. To give us peace of mind we wore our crampons to the bottom of the slide to where the trail goes back into the woods.
The Ore Bed trail stinks without snow cover, many rocks, like walking on cobble stones. On our way back we turned at the junction and went to JBL to get on a better trail.
When we arrive at the 5 way intersection we opted to take a left and go to JBL and take a easier less rocky trail. We signed out and got back to the Garden parking lot under headlamp at 5:45pm, it was another wonderful adventure. Even though it was not a bluebird day we had a great time.
We began our 46er adventure and were picky about the weather so we enjoyed each hike, but since we started this adventure in 2004, we have become less than picky with the weather, we are almost to the point of "just getting this list done".
From the Garden parking lot, to the interior outpost to the South Side trail junction to Ore Bed trail to range trail to summit 12.42 miles round trip. 3205' of elevation gain.
Roughly 10.20 hours.