Birch Mountain, The Thumb
By: Jim Adler, Paul Cooley
After many cancellations, a small group of five climbers met at the junction between the McMurray Meadow Road and the Jeep road to the Birch Lake Trail. We left two low clearance vehicles on the McMurray Meadow Road and eventually all consolidated into my Jeep, leaving the other two vehicles at the point where a gate crosses the Jeep road. We then drove in to the end of the road and started down the trail. Unfortunately not the right trail. We started up a trail that goes along Birch Creek that was a miserable grueling hike in 90 degree weather, until we climbed over the ridge to the right trail. (The right trail is found by turning right at a junction in the Jeep road .7 miles beyond the gate and following this road until it turns into a trail. We went straight ahead.)
We arrived in camp at Birch Lake in the afternoon and set up camp in the very few lumpy spots available near the outlet. In the evening we had a community salad including a wide variety of vegetable contributions, including Paul Cooley's home grown tomatoes.
Sunday morning we left camp at 6:15 and climbed Birch by heading towards the saddle between Birch Creek and Tinemaha Creek, and turning up a wide chute leading to the ridge just southwest of the summit. We reached the summit at about 9:30 am. After descending down the same chute, two of the party returned to camp and three of us went on to climb Thumb.
We approached Thumb by crossing the moraine to the west of Birch and heading straight for Thumb. We reached the summit at about 2:00 pm and enjoyed the spectacular view. We returned to camp at about 4:40 pm. We then broke camp and hiked out, except for two party members who elected to stay and hike out the next day. We took the good trail all the way out and reached the Jeep by 7:30 pm.
Many thanks to the fine group and Paul Cooley for making the trip a success. Participants included: Bill Heubach, Martha Flores, and David Lake.
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