We started hiking just before 9:00 under clear skies and pleasant temperatures. About 10:30 we arrived at the spring and watering trough, 2.8 miles from the trailhead. Our pace slowed a bit as we climbed the steep trail to the main ridge. Energetic Ryan pushed ahead, reaching Mt. Elmer before the others, and tired Dave W dragged along, finally getting to the peak about 1:30.
We enjoyed lunch on the peak, with great views, accompanied by a dozens of ladybird beetles crawling everywhere. About 2:00 we started back. Ryan hurried ahead to make sure he got back on time for a commitment in Logan. The others arrived at the trailhead at 5:20 and Logan by 6:00. We did not encounter Ryan on the way, so we assume he made it back in time.
Trail Notes: 1. A steep and rocky section where the trail crosses over to the east side of the drainage about mile 3.1 continues to cause difficulty. We experienced poor footing here and a cow carcass showed this section could be treacherous for livestock. The Forest Service built a trail section to bypass this area on the west, but few trail users follow it. The bypass trail branches off about mile 3.0 (waypoint "GCJunct" on the map and links below) and switches back uphill for a short distance before turning north and gradually descending to the canyon bottom and back uphil to the original trail. Unfortunately the trail at the north end becomes indistinct and there are no signs marking either end. 2. We traversed a steep side hilll to get around cliffs on our way to the top of Mt. Elmer (see our off-trail route marked on the photo, below).
Thanks to Dave W for the narrative, Dave W, Dave P, Chris and Ryan for photos and Dave W for the GPS work