|Zeno leading the last pitch up Haystack Mountain|
|The start of my post-holing session during attempt #2|
|The aftermath of post-holing only 200 yards.|
My next attempt came the night before I was actually successful last week. I left work at 5 pm and quickly grabbed Zeno and jumped in the pre-packed car to drive the two hours with the hope of running to the top before the sun went down. Snow had been melting quickly and I hoped that enough had disappeared for me to make the top before it got dark. Halfway to Butte I realized I forgot my headlamp so if snow started too low I wouldn't make it up before dark. Of course there was snow two miles up and after 200 yards of post-holing ripped into my shins, I bailed again.
|Summit of Haystack with the Highlands and Pioneers on the horizon|
The entire hike is in the trees with little change in terrain until the last half mile when granite outcroppings emerge and the summit boulder pile comes into view as well as Elk Park down below. The summit itself is a pile of rocks slightly higher than some other piles of rocks. But from the top you can see twenty different mountain ranges (according to Cedron Jones in Peakbagging Montana) and they were on full display when I reached the summit.
|Lady bugs on the summit boulders|
According to the August 30th, 1936 edition of the Montana Butte Standard, construction on the lookout began when an ERA crew hauled equipment up to 8,000', just below the summit. They were to blast out a trail and establish a cabin with equipment for fire detection and weather monitoring. Work continued through the winter and after a mid-December storm a telephone line was placed between the lookout and the Elk Park Inn. Today the only evidence of a lookout is the remnants of stairs, a few foundation blocks, and two ceramic insulators that I noticed from the trail. Even with no lookout, the trail is well maintained and in better condition than the road to the trailhead.