Hyndman from primary lake

Hyndman Peak is the lone 12,000-foot peak in the Pioneer Range east of Sun Valley. The area is similar to Jackson in being a place where millionaires go to dress up as cowboys but, lacking nearby national parks, has far fewer tourists. The library is new and clean, the post office is used to temporary and seasonal residents, and there is even a Grocery Outlet. I drove up a good dirt road to the trailhead the evening before, passing some overgrown log cabins and McPalaces, and spent a quiet night with the slanted parking area and vault toilet to myself.

Old Hyndman and Cobb

Though it looks like any other National Forest trail, the trail toward Hyndman is not in a wilderness area, so I started off by bike, walking through a few muddy or rocky sections before stashing it in the woods about 2.5 miles in. The morning had a pleasant northern feel, cool and damp, with the low sun and slow dawn of higher latitudes. I continued hiking up a well-defined trail that gradually disappeared into snow as the peak came into view. The snow was annoyingly sun-cupped, and not as supportive as that in the Tetons, but I mostly did not sink in when stepping on the ridges between the cups.

The route up Hyndman climbs a minor gully and ridge on its south face, with a bit of a use trail visible on bare ground. Seeing a lot of snow up high and not knowing what to expect, I had brought crampons and ice axe, but found I did not need them, as it was more efficient to climb the talus ridge than the gully. Looking behind me, I saw that my plan to tag Old Hyndman and Cobb as bonus peaks on a loop would not work, as the north ridge of Old Hyndman looked rotten and vertical. Many peaks in the area seem to have a similar shape, with gentle southern slopes and steeper northern ones, so both peaks are probably best done from Big Basin to their south. The exception is Duncan Ridge, west of Hyndman, which consists of a series of crags with steep south faces.

The summit itself was still covered in a snow ridge, which was rock-hard and slick under a thin layer of fresh snow. I carefully made my way to the high point in my trail runners, then sat down on a rock to admire the snowy peaks and valleys to the north and east. Hyndman is near the end of the Pioneer Range, so I could see over its lesser southern neighbors to the plains beyond. I retraced my steps to the bike, jogging some stretches but not in any hurry. The bike out was fun and completely rideable other than the muddy parts. I passed a few hikers along the way, and the parking lot was nearly full when I returned around 10:30, with one giant van and a bunch of Subarus. I took a nice and very fit older couple’s photo by the sign, then drove back to town for errands and library time before heading out to do something more ambitious.

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