Yaunt Mountain

Location: Yaunt Mt is a 6470í ranked peak north of Halleck Canyon in the Laramie Range, Wyoming.
Directions: From I-25 south of Wheatland, take Exit 73 and head west on Hwy 34 for 17.8 miles, then turn right on CR165 (Halleck Canyon Rd) for 6.5 miles and park anywhere along the road. 
Trail: None. Depending on where you park along the road, it is 1-2 miles and 220í to Yaunt Mt, but there are many interesting peaks along the way to check out. 
Map: USGS Poe Mountain quad
Fees: None
Dog regulations: None
Weather: Local forecast



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May 4, 2014
A dusty gravel road with patches of rutted clay led me on the final 6 mile stretch up Halleck Canyon to my destined parking spot along the side of the road in the BLM section of mountainous terrain that includes Yaunt Mt. Within a deep granite canyon, I laced on my boots, hopping in the car and slamming the door at the approach of a semi pulling a cattle trailer and kicking up a rooster tail of fine silty dust behind it. After the dust cloud dissipated, I grabbed my pack and began heading straight uphill through the grass and sagebrush at 11:00. 

I shortly found a stock trail and followed that at a gentle grade as it rounded a hillside of green grass and occasional white phlox up into a drainage where it joined an old 2-track. I stopped and followed the 2-track with my eyes down towards the road but could see no obvious point of entry. The 2-track wasnít going where I wanted to go, so I didnít remain on it long. I cut out west, towards Yaunt Mt, which lay unseen somewhere in the distance. The wind was fierce, and I kept below the ridgelines as I made my over several deep ravines. The landscape was largely treeless, but peppered with stubby sagebrush, rabbitbrush and cactus. In many places were signs of recent fire: blackened sagebrush stobs and few black pine carcasses. Along one ridgeline I came upon a deep pit bored vertically into the ground about 20 feet. Tailings formed a loose mound downhill from the pit, and rough rock walls about 6-feet apart paralleled themselves down into a dark hole. 

Alternating bands of white and black rocks stripe the hills, with most ridgelines composed of naked rock set in fins, like a stegosaurusí back. Iím no rockhound, so Iíve no idea what these rocks are, but the effect of alternating color is striking.  Stopping to drink some water, I watched a herd of mule deer prance along an opposing slope, stop to study me, and keep moving. Turkey vultures hovered on the stiff breeze, never flapping, indolently riding the air and watching for a scrap of food. In the dormant mahogany shrubs, little birds flitted about, chirping softly. They seemed to be nesting in the rocks, though I would think the exposure to snakes would be pretty high with such an arrangement. I topped out on a couple of peaks that seemed high and interesting, moving northwest one ridgeline at a time. The severity of the cuts between ridges was a bit surprising, and I detoured around several of them to avoid significant elevation losses along the way. 

I came to a rim where 6 ponderosa pines grew, all short and stout, and hissing in the west wind. Several other dead trees lay toppled nearby. I imagine a dead pine doesnít stand long in this exposed area. The sun was out in full and the temperature climbed near 80 degrees, but the wind kept up its drilling pressure to where it never felt hot, though I could feel salt building up on my face as sweat evaporated before I could feel it. I encountered a fence in an area that wasnít a property line, and it confused me, so I stopped to study my map for a while. I suppose BLM has allotment fences up here, and I was sure that Yaunt Mt lies on BLM land so I crossed the fence and headed up the hill to the summit. The apex of Yaunt Mt was almost entirely granite, with interesting waves and hoodoos sculpted by wind-carried grit. Given the warmth, I was a little nervous about rattlesnakes, and my concern was heightened by the noise of the wind which made the likelihood of actually hearing a rattler very low. Not hard to imagine the erosive power of the wind today, and at the summit it was so strong and gusty I dared not walk with at least one hand in contact with the rock at any given time. I tagged the top at 12:15, took a quick look to the northern horizon, and then wasted little time descending to the sheltered eastern side of the ridgeline, where I photographed several interesting burned pines and the rugged, folded landscape beyond. 

I stopped in a sheltered spot south of Yaunt Mt with a good view of rugged Government Peak across the road, which is just a little higher than Yaunt Mt, and looks like it could easily be hiked along a sloping approach from the west. Had it been less windy, I might have tried it, but the fierce breeze whipping over the ridgeline made the simple act of walking an act of concentration, and this little 4-mile hike was turning out to be quite enough wind for one day. To the east I could see a compound of buildings and equipment representing a working ranch. 

I meandered a bit on my way back to the car, taking in a different route and admiring different vantage points of Halleck Canyon, a rather forbidding-looking rocky gorge. I crossed over one ridgetop littered with broken white rock that glittered in the sun. Marble? Quartz? Whatever it was, the effect was pleasing.  The terrain was so wavy and steep that I got a little turned around near the car, since I couldnít see it even from 100 meters away, and I never did find the 2-track I expected to intersect. Instead, I overshot the car to the east, and backtracked toward the road while paralleling a large herd of horses that were grazing nearby and along the road. They stared at me curiously while I passed with large dark eyes. I made it back around 1:35, and happily took refuge from the ferocious wind inside the car as I cruised back east to the interstate, and home. 

Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming

Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming

 

Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Finally, here is the actual summit of Yaunt Mt

Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Yaunt Mountain, Wyoming
Back on Halleck Canyon Rd


 


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