Gannett Peak- Day 1-2

IT IS FINALLY HERE!!!!

We left the house around 7AM, heading towards Pinedale- rather than take the short route, we decided to take the long way around- and view less traveled areas.

One of many beautiful scenes as we neared Pinedale.

We met Sarah and Jeff up at the gear shop in Pinedale- I needed a mosquito net, and a new stuff sack for food… couldn’t find my normal one anywhere. We then wandered over to the Wind  River Brewing Company to sit down and pour over maps, and eat dinner.

Courtesy of Sarah Engel

Then we made our way up towards the trailhead, to find camping for the night, and organize/ go through gear.

Hanging out by our fire- Courtesy of Sarah Engel

The next morning- we repacked everything, and made our way up the road to our Trailhead- Pole Creek

Packs filled with 6 days worth of food, and ready to go!
There was Trail register sheet…so we used this scrap! Courtesy of Greg Miller

Unlike Colorado, there were only two other people headed up to climb Gannett- a german couple who  had a lot of mountaineering experience.

The trail was well maintained, as we made our way up to our first break was at Photographers Point.

View from Photographers Point!

There were a few stream crossings, and a beautiful network of lakes along the trail. Our original thought was to camp at Seneca Lake, around 10 miles into our trip  though this was changed to Island Lake- especially after the mosquito Gauntlet– as Little Seneca quickly became known.

Hobbs Lake

I’ve never in my life had major issues with mosquitoes but I’ve also never had them cover my entire body as I’m trying to walk through them. Ew.

After running the mosquito gauntlet
Crossing the “trail” at Little Seneca lake.

Sarah walking towards Island Lake

There was one quick flowing stream that was a project to get across…unlike Jeff who walked across the skinny log- we decided to scramble around the rocks to get across.

Greg crossing the steam

After a while we lost Jeff- he was so far ahead we thought that he may have gotten behind us. It was a good 4 hours since we had seen him, so Sarah and I waited on a pass, while Greg backtracked to see if he was below us— he wasn’t. We decided to move on to Island lake in hopes that he had just gotten that far ahead….which he had.

Our first view of Island Lake dominated by Fremont Peak

We set up our tents, and made dinner- it was by far one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in a long time.

Fremont Peak reflected in Island Lake

I slept very soundly.

Greg and I woke up later than usual around 8:30-9:00AM- and lazily ate breakfast, then packed up to move another 3-4 miles up into Titcomb Basin.

Finally making our way up to Titcomb Basin!  Courtesy of Jeff Golden
Courtesy of Greg Miller
Willows…actually not being awful!

Once we set up camp, between the two lakes, we set things out to dry- washed clothes, and got everything ready for the next morning…at 2AM.

Our High Camp- Titcomb Basin  Courtesy of Jeff Golden
Upper Titcomb Lake, still frozen!

I have never been in such a lovely basin, though….the marmots were assholes…but more on that later.

The backpack was a lot more burly than expected, and we really gained no elevation- just a lot of rolling hills- up and down and up and down- on rough, muddy, terrain. I loved it.

And I must say- Greg is a genius- melatonin works amazingly at making me go to bed before it gets dark.

Tomorrow- Gannett.

 

 

Humboldt Peak

One more week, and we’ll be on the road up to Pinedale, Wyoming to climb Gannett Peak.

I had planned a 14er summit the weekend prior, to get some elevation and miles before we left on our trip. It was originally billed as Mount of the Holy Cross- however….the road wasn’t scheduled to open for two days, so I switched it to Humboldt- similar mileage, and elevation gain.

Our group hiked in to Upper South Colony Lake, at 12K, and relaxed for the afternoon, getting ready to get up early the next morning.

Hiking up the final push to the higher basin

We enjoyed a lovely dinner by the lake…while being attacked by mosquito…Becca ended up a constellation of bites…big dipper.

Preview of the route the next morning.

Beautiful sunrise shot of Crestone Needle/ Peak!

Our camp spot was not the most level, but I got at least four of five hours of sleep. We made our way up the steep ridge to the saddle, and began the class 2 section, over the rocks towards the summit.

Looking across the basin at Crestone Needle- Crestone Peak Traverse…next year…
Greg with the summit to the right.
Summit of Humboldt Peak- 14,064′
Greg and I have been quite a few places, but this was our first time on a Mountain together. 

It was a great summit day! Everyone made the summit, and within a reasonable amount of time- it was awesome!

Our little CMC group on the summit of Humboldt!

It was a bluebird day in all directions, and we luckily avoided the smoke from the near by fire in New Mexico.

Greg and Becca making their way down towards the saddle. 

After a short break on the summit we made our way back down towards our camp, to find that it had been taken over by momma and baby big horn sheep! We watched them for a while, as we packed up camp.

We made our way back down the basin to the cars, the temperature had gone from 66 degrees on the summit….to 103 degrees down in the town of Florence. It was ridiculous…but we managed to avoid the heat for two days- I’d call that a win.

Though this was a short trip, it really was a great day, with wonderful people. I cannot wait for Gannett Peak…but…packing. Ew.

Square Top Mountain A

For Sarah and I, backpacking nearly 30 miles was not enough- we decided to climb Square Top Mountain A- a bicentennial 13er in the Front Range.

We left the Riverbend Tap Room/ eatery, and drove to the summit of Guanella Pass, and set up camp in the back of Jinxy Jeep. It was a lot warmer up there than expected, and we got a lovely sunset while we were changing out things in our packs for the next morning.

Looking across at Bierstadt and Evans.
All of this came out of her bag from our backpacking trip!

Our incredible sunset!

We woke up the next morning around 6AM with no alarm, and began preparing breakfast. It was a beautiful sunny day, though some little puffy clouds were building over near Mt. Evans– otherwise it was perfect!

Square Top reflected in Square Top Lake

We made our way up the shoulder to the summit of Square Top 13, 794. The view was beautiful- looking out towards the rest of the Front Range, the Ten Mile Range and even some of the Mosquitos!

Great summit shot!

After taking a well deserved break, the clouds began to build, so we move back down the ridge towards the car. We stopped briefly near the lake, and watched these idiot kids come down a really steep, very loose, snowy, face- above the lake. We kept moving slowly, keeping an eye on them every once and a while…just in case we had to call Search and Rescue.

Once back at the car- we made our way down to Idaho Springs to grab some food at Westbound and Down- Brewery- VERY good food- and good beer!

With Gannett drawing near, I felt like this wild combo of mountains and backpacking has helped with my confidence on this trip.

Lost Creek Wilderness Loop

In order to train for a long backpack, with a heavy pack… you need to actually get out there and backpack… with a heavy pack.

Gannet Peak is a little more than a month away, and Sarah, Greg, Jessie (our dog) and myself decided to escape to the Lost Creek Wilderness for a 2 day 20 something mile loop.

We met at the Rustic Station in Bailey, CO. for dinner- and determined our original loop was not going to work….2 hour drive on dirt roads at like 8PM just didn’t sound fun. We decided to start at Rolling Creek Trail- to Wigwam Trail- to McCurdy Brookside for a short bit- and finish off by following the Colorado Trail- BACK to the Rolling Creek trailhead. It ended up being about 25-29 miles of hiking through beautiful forests, valleys, and meadows.

We hiked in about a half mile,set up camp off trail-stared at the stars for a while, and went to sleep. It had been a good way to start the trip.

Campsite #1
Morning view!

The next morning, after breakfast we made our way along the rolling creek trail towards the saddle…which would have been great had there not been big patches of snow covering up where the trail was…took forever to navigate. From there we made our way down to Wigwam Trail, walking pass beaver dams, lakes, and iconic Lost Creek red rock formations.

Sarah cheesing it up for the camera- though we were all a bit tired.

Jessie was so tired, she kept almost falling over.
Falling asleep sitting up- poor girl.
Walking into the basin where we would set camp.
View from dinner, Sarah and Greg eating

We made our way to camp, ragged, hungry and sore- It’d be quite an exhausting day but we got treated with a beautiful sunset.

In the morning, I was far less sore than expected! We packed up our camp, and got on the trail…

Jessie dog was doing so much better than she was the day before, so we were able to make quite a bit better time. Though, the last few miles were horrible…Greg kept saying, “it says it’s only another quarter mile.” I thought that trail would never end.

Kind felt like the truck at the bottom of a gully we saw. 

But we finally made it out, and by this time…. were starving.

My human and I  almost back to the car.

We went to a restaurant called Riversbend Taproom/Eatery- in Bailey. The food. was. amazing. And not just because we were hungry- it was actually good.

I had been a whirlwind backpacking trip, but great exercise and a measure for how well we’d do backpacking UP to Gannett.

 

 

Guardian of the Flatirons

This is a great local training hike, with over 4K gain and 12 miles- beautiful scenery…and I didn’t have to wear a glove on my swollen hand.

We had  terrible weather in the high country, so trying to find elevation in the low lands- is not too difficult in the Boulder Flatirons. Here is the description of this hike! Here are a few shots from this awesome hike!

On South Boulder Peak, looking at Bear(right), and Green (left)
On Bear, looking at Green. 
Finally standing on the summit of Green…. my hand hurt, i was tired, and Hungry. 

Carnage with Shillelagh and Morocco Canyons.

I wanted to take Greg on his first canyoneering trip- to North Wash- and enjoy some new canyons- but have a great camping experience in the high desert.

We drove down after work on Thursday, slept… oh so classily- in a Walmart parking lot– then drove on to Poison Springs- a good jumping of campsite. We spent our day relaxing in the shade reading,  a lovely sunset, and roaring fire. It was a great afternoon.

Veggie Hash and a lovely Fire!
Lovely sunset over the Henry Mountains!

We awoke to a clear, quiet morning- made breakfast- and spent time organizing our gear before setting out for Shillelagh and Morocco Canyons- a bit further down the road.

One of the Irish canyons, Shillelagh is a short and sweet, great beginner canyon- with few raps, and great scenery.

Greg heading towards Shillelagh
Shillelagh

We made our way through this canyon quickly, and with very few photos- however Morocco was much more of an adventure!

A short and sweet, 3B- was refreshing after hiking around in 89 degree weather- with it’s standing water pools, and fun rappels. It was a pleasant surprise that I’ll surely repeat in the future!

Looking at the road from the approach!

The approach climbed steeply up the rock, then back to an deep canyon with a natural bridge. You would never know you were so close to the road.

There were boulder obstacles, that dropped into hip deep pools, down climb, and if I recall correctly- 6 rappels to get back to the car.

Greg Ferrying backpacks
Me before….

We had a blast making our way through the short canyon, came out soaked but happy!

The rest of the day was less exciting- we just made dinner- Though I have one more short…but painful adventure from this trip.

It’s the carnage part. The next day- we got up and decided to strike camp before going into Arsenic Canyon- at poison springs. We had all our gear laid out on a tarp, and the rest of camp almost back into the car. Greg was putting away the stove, I was putting away the last of our bags. I picked up the last bag, and unbeknownst to me the kitchen knife was in there– not wrapped in a towel. I began vigorously brushing the dust off the bag, and it broke through the seam and i slammed my hand down on it.

I screeched, and began yelling profanity- while putting all of my weight over the wound, knowing it would bleed. Greg realized something was really wrong and came running over and began to check my hand, and bandage it up as fast as possible.

He threw everything in the car, and we drove 3 hours to Fruita- the closest Urgent care. It wasn’t bad enough to require an emergency room- but I got 10 stitches… my first stitches. I didn’t handle them too well- not great with needles… they had to inject my hand 4 times with lidocane before they could stitch me up. I actually told the doctor that they needed to have the nurse come hold my arm down because i would jerk it- I think that hurt more than the stitches.

Greg’s patchwork job.

Once the nurse was able to clean and sterilize it, we got a good look at what i had actually done. It was about 1/4 of an inch deep and 2 inches long-BUT- luckily i missed all of the nerves, and tendons!

Frankenhand

I was really lucky to only get flesh, and the healing process sucked… no climbing, no cycling. It took about 2 months to fully heal where i have all the strength and no stretching- but it’s finally better!

I was so lucky it was Greg there and not someone else, he was cool under pressure, and got me out of there safely.

Despite the carnage- it was a really fun trip- and now… we have one of the MSR camp knives with a sheath and a blunt end…to try and mitigate the possibility of that happening again.

North Star Mtn- Southeast Shoulder

I always have Monday’s off- but my friend Makayla decided to play Hooky- and climb North Star Mountain 13,614′ with me from Hoosier Pass- 8 miles and 2400′ of elevation.

We left at around 5AM, and made our way down to Hoosier Pass, outside of Breckenridge- the sun was out, it was relatively warm- just a perfect clear day. The month of April is notorious for having a lot of snow fall, but we managed to get incredibly lucky.

Starting up our well trodden trail.

We followed a well designated trail, until we hit the shoulder- and began to make our way up a less traveled, more posthole-y section of the hike.

Once on the ridge, it was relatively clear of snow- and quite warm for April…though the wind just got worse and worse.

the summit is at the end of that ridge. 

We made our way across the ridge, towards what we guessed was the summit- only to second guess based off the dueling GPS discrepancies- we decided to hike both of these supposed summits- ensuring we got the right one!

Looking up the ridge at the summit.
Almost to our second “summit”
Courtesy of Makayla Braden

We made our summits, and were treated by BEAUTIFUL views of the Ten Mile Range!

Summit of North Star!

Back where we came from!
My summit shot with Quandary in the background. 

 

We made our way back along the ridge, after reveling in a windless spot for about 20 mins, and back down to the car. It was a perfect spring summit day, with great weather!  We finished relatively early, and grabbed sandwiches in Breckenridge- then went to check out their newest brewery- Broken Compass. Very very pleasantly surprised!