Friday, June 24, 2016

"And then I realized, adventures are the best way to learn." ~ Anonymous

Around this time a year ago, I was doing last minute plans for a road trip to Wyoming.  We hit the Tetons, Yellowstone, and Wild Iris in one week, with one last stop to try for Dallas Peak outside Telluride.  True to form, I am back at planning.

A team of four leaves Saturday for Pinedale, WY.  We'll make a few last minutes stops to places like the Great Outdoor Gear Shop, and then we'll begin a summit attempt of Gannett Peak.  Gannett is considered the 4th hardest peak in the lower 48.  Our trip will entail 42+ miles, 9,000 feet of elevation gain, glacier travel, and what is rumored to be the worst mosquitos in North America.

Gannett Peak
We'll be in the Wind River for 5-6 days depending on weather (Our route description), without contact with the real world.  We will be carrying a delorme inReach, and my Spot device for tracking and emergency signals.  Regular updates from my spot can be seen on my shared page: Link

Our current summit days are either Tuesday (6/28) or Wednesday (6/29).  This will depend on weather.  We are using mountain forecast to see what it's looking like at 13,000 feet. Link  We'll take two days to hike out, but the fun doesn't stop there.  Erin and I will be hopping into Jinxy Jeep, and forging through the wild west for the following week.

Summit of Humboldt after a CMC overnight at South Colony Upper Lakes (Courtesy of Erin)

Our itinerary includes: Salt Lake City (optional), Boundary Peak, Mt. Thompson (optional), Keough Hot Springs, Mt. Whitney, Mojave or Joshua Tree, the San Francisco Ridge/Mt. Humphrey, Wheeler Peak, and Taos (optional).

You can follow along with us on this adventure from my public SPOT page: Schaetzie's SPOT

Now, I just have to figure out how to keep shedding weight from all my gear.  Packing 3.0 starts tonight. Departure tomorrow morning.

Marty is less than excited about my departure. 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” - John Muir, Our National Parks

When hiking 10 more miles seems better than driving 2 more hours...

It was the evening in Bailey, Colorado on June 3rd when Erin and Greg met up with me at the Rustic Station for dinner.  In the days leading up to this moment, the three of us planned to spend a weekend in the Lost Creek Wilderness (LCW) weight training for Gannett.  The plan started with a 20+ mile loop option in the LCW.  Erin brought maps in to the Rustic, and we started route planning.

It was Greg that discovered with his handy gadget, commonly known as a smart phone with google maps, that our planned trail head would take two hours to get to from the Rustic Station. Did I mention the LCW is a big place?  It was already well after 7pm, and the idea of driving two hours then packing down trail at all seemed exhausting.  After checking other trail heads, we picked the Rolling Creek TH only 20-30 minutes down the dirt road.  It also changed our route in the LCW to approximately 30 miles.

We still only packed in four tenths of a mile Friday night.  Before bed, we sat out and watched the open skies - fairly certain we spotted Mars.  It was off to bed with fluffikins, Jessie, watching over the camp.  She only alerted us to potential interlopers once or twice in the night.  Could have been a squirrel for all we know.  We had an idea the morning would bring a great view of the wilderness, and we were right.

My mobile home

Views from Camp 1

It was a leisurely morning for a back country breakfast. The plan was 14-15 miles to the far side of East Lost Park for our Saturday night camp.  After a morning off trail, navigating snow bands, we spent our lunch resting on the pass before heading down.  Grateful to be at the later end of the afternoon heat as we ventured across the open basin along the creek, we eventually made it to our second campsite.  We spent time getting settled in, and headed for the creek to resupply water and ice our swollen feet in the chill of the creek.

Jessie asleep at the later half of day 1 (Courtesy of Erin)

Up and Over and Across to this view from Camp 2

Erin and Greg sheltered their camp under the tree.
Sunset dining, alfresca (Courtesy of Erin)

It's not often that you get dinner by sunset without the sounds of a city - cars honking, alarms sounding, people talking, laughing, etc.  The boggy basin made for humid air that added a little extra chill than the night before.  As exhausted as we all were, somehow bedtime held off until after sunset. We tucked into or tents happy for rest, but also curious about our physical state in the morning.

Our bodies truly are resilient.  Sleeping in 'till sunrise, we rose surprisingly less worse for wear than expected, including the pup, Jessie, who pretty much fell asleep while standing the day before.  Well, here goes.  Somewhere around another 15 miles.  With minimal elevation gain we moved faster than the day before.  We also passed more people than the day before - telling us this area of the LCW was particularly popular.  We took our first break at the Lost Park campgrounds - recommended as a great car camping location with access to trails, fishing, etc.  It was off to another 8 miles on the Colorado Trail before we would meet back up with the Rolling Creek trail.

Looking back across Lost Park

Spirits managed to stay high until the last 2-3 miles.  The monotony of the task began to take it's toll, and we pleaded with the greater powers that be to put the cars just around the corner.  One foot in front of the other, in front of the other, in front of the other, in front of the other, and finally...the cars.  Too exhausted to even be excited, all we wanted was a good meal and brew to wash it down.

This is pretty much how we felt.

One last creek crossing

We hopped in our vehicles and reconvened at "The Tap Room," Riverbend Market and Eatery next to the river.  There is an idea about food in mountain towns.  It's always good enough to eat with you get out of the mountains or the back country, but what isn't, right?  The Tap Room far exceeded our expectation of both quality service and food.  It will be on the "must stop" places for future adventures.

Travel companions, pun intended (Courtesy of Erin)

We said goodbye to Greg, and Erin jumped in Jinxy Jeep with me for one more day of adventure.  We drove up to Guanella Pass with a plan to summit Squaretop the next morning, but not putting to much into our expectations.  The second day of mileage had been equally exhausting, and again we weren't sure how we'd feel in the morning.

Sunset views from the Guanella Pass upper parking lot.

Pano of Erin and Squaretop from the second alpine lake.

Again, our bodies are truly resilient.  We breakfasted in the parking lot, and made decisions about gear - no snowshoes, no gaiters, etc.  Off we went, up, up, and up.  Eventually, we reached the summit of Squaretop Mountain with beautiful views of the Front Range.  Clouds were already building as we ascended, so our time on summit was brief, but ever so rewarded.  It was good to be on top of a mountain again - to see the world from the views of the sky.

Most of this crap was in pack for the LCW loop - Weight Training
(Courtesy of Erin)

Up, up, and more up.

Views from the summit - Evans and Beirstadt
Summit shot - Views of Grays, Torreys, Edwards, more (Courtesy of Erin)

We descended, making stops to have a discussion with a friendly couple from Conifer, and then to watch a group of reckless misfits in a precarious situation.  Luckily, they managed to descend their questionable route unscathed.  So, back to the car for us, and on to more food and beer.  We made a quick stop in Georgetown for coffee, the headed to Westbound and Down in Idaho Springs.

We had a conversation about rarely seeing bighorns - After this I started a
conversation about how rare it is to win the lottery.

W&D matched suit with The Tap Room.  Great service from Johan - ask for him if you ever stop by.  Erin went with the beet hummus dip, and I went with the fatty rewarding green chili cheese fries.  So good, that I want another serving right now, and I'm not even hungry.  All in all, the three day training trip was a success.

What are we training for?  I did mention it, right?  On June 25th, a group of us are leaving for Pinedale, Wy.  We will hit the trails for a 42+ mile round trip adventure in the Wind River Range, hopefully, including a summit of Gannett Peak.  From Wyoming, Erin and I will be heading across the West to California, hitting up national parks, forest, peaks and more along the way and back.  It's sure to be an adventure for us all.