Backpacking Trip Report: Cape Alava Beach Trip

State:

Washington

Location: Olympic National Park, WAType: In and Out

Mileage: 6
Days: 2
As GoBlueHiker mentioned, Google Earth is a very fun backpacking planner tool! I went bonkers with it, and made some screenshots that show my destination. Ahhh, when nerds go backpacking…;)
On the drive over, I stopped at some beaches west of Port Angeles, to check out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Nobody has ever explained to me who Juan was, or why he was such a Fuca.Two adult bald eagles flew close over my car on the drive, and I spotted a juvenile bald eagle on a tree branch above a river, 30 feet away, munching on a fish. I stopped & got my camera, but approaching for a good angle I spooked him away & didn’t get the shot. :( Juvenile bald eagles are something to see!

The trailhead is at the northern tip of Lake Ozette, which is very high after weeks of deluges in Washington. Any higher & you’d need scuba gear to start off on the trail.

The Cape Alava Trail is about 3 miles, about 60-70% of which is wooden boardwalks, very slippery when wet!!! Which is pretty much always! I only got complacent & slipped once, keeping one foot on the wood & salvaging a 4.5 from the Russian judge. I marveled at the people that built & maintain this trail. Amazing. Even our off-trail monsters, Tigger & GoBlue, would sink in the muck & brambles in this area.

After stopping to check out some giant shrooms, and an old Scandahoovian homesteader’s meadow, the sun came out (!!!!!!!) so I charged ahead toward the sound of the crashing waves.

I could not believe my luck, as the warm sun poked through the trees, and shined bright off the ocean. A day like this is a rare one, especially this winter. Nearly an entire month of rain – EVERY DAY – in Seattle.

After chatting with my very friendly neighbor, James, who had the good sense to move from Texas to Oregon recently, but not the good sense to bring matches for his stove, I set up camp, and brought my matches over to him & we enjoyed the sunset. We chatted about backpacking gear, long trails, the worthlessness of digital zoom, bats, and of course the supremacy of the Seattle Seahawks, as the sun went down over Ozette Island. This is the life. B-)

It rained a little bit the next morning, but cleared up again, and I had a beautiful drive home. I stopped at Lake Crescent for a quick snapshot…man the drive along that lake is among the prettier drives around.

I stopped by Port Angeles to watch the Seahawks CRUSH the pathetic, flea-bitten Carolina Kitty-Cats (WOOOOOO HOOOO!!!!), then back to the daily grind!

Hope you enjoyed. Until next time…

Backpacking Trip Report: Timberline Trail, Mt. Hood

Area: Northwestern Oregon

State: Oregon

Mileage: 41

Days: 1

Type: Loop

Month: August

As I stumbled through the darkness that rapidly descended on us, my knee joints ached and lighting bolt pain radiated through my feet with every step. Was I a rehab patient recovering from a debilitating car wreck? Was I an 85 year-old living in a nursing home? No, I was 28 miles into a voluntary hike.
The blisters on my feet were huge, the ibuprofen I popped like M&Ms no longer had any effect on the excruciating pain, and there was no way to quit even if I wanted to. To my dismay, I still had 13 miles to cover. I realized that would take me over six hours and that all of it would be in the dark. As I stopped by a small stream to rest and bandage up my feet, reality started to set in. That is when I reached my low point.
We were hiking the Timberline Trail which circumnavigates Mt. Hood in Northwestern Oregon. At 41 miles long and with 12,000 feet of elevation gain and loss, it is rated America’s Hardest Dayhike by Backpacker Magazine. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, a section of the trail was officially closed because a severe winter storm had decimated it. The Mt. Hood National Forest web site said that “the trail is impassible over the Eliot Crossing.” It further stated that the route was “impassible” because the “drainage is very unstable and hazardous with long vertical drops.”
Our journey began at 4:45 a.m. on August 8th at the Timberline Lodge. My hiking companion was my future brother-in-law, Gabe Garcia. Gabe is a towering 6’5″ member of the U.S. Coast Guard and is an animal when it comes to hiking. He typically hikes alone because no one can keep up with him. Despite being considered a strong hiker by most of my friends, I was no exception. Gabe’s backside, off in the distance, became a familiar sight for me.
In the weeks leading up to our hike, I managed to contact a pastor from Oregon who was planning a group hike of the Timberline Trail a few days before us. Pastor Tom Farley of Portland, gave us advice, marked the tricky spots with bright orange tape, built log bridges over some of the river crossings, and even left ropes in place for us to use during our trek. Without his help, our chances of success would’ve been substantially diminished.
The trail itself was amazing. We were above the clouds the entire day. Stunning views of Mt. Hood and other surrounding mountains greeted us around every corner. The trees, which grew on steep slopes, bent at an unusual angle to grow vertically, and were often covered in a hair-like fungus that gave the place a Lord of the Rings vibe. Beams of sunlight pierced through the trees illuminating the path at our feet and wild flowers blanketed the hillsides around us.
The river crossings were an adventure. Many required us to descend with a rope which was tied to a large boulder at the top. The crossing at Eliot Glacier was the crux. It was official closed and off-limits. When we arrived there the place was so fogged in, we couldn’t see more than 50 yards. As the fog began to lift we saw the challenge before us. The entire drainage had been obliterated by a winter storm. Where the trail used to be, there was only a near vertical drop-off perhaps 100 feet high dropping down to the river and a taller wall up the other side. The slopes were covered in sand with rock and boulders, some the size of small cars, loosely stuck in them. While just standing there, we could hear rocks falling off the slope tumbling all the way down to the river. To get struck by one of these projectiles while at the bottom would mean certain death.
After much deliberation, we lowered ourselves down the steep wall with a rope. We then scrambled across the river and used the other rope to scale the other side. Unfortunately, the rope ended about 3/4 of the way up. So for the last 35 feet, we had to carefully pick our way up the slope without protection as rocks we stood on slid out from under our feet and disappeared into the abyss below us. I breathed a sigh of relief when we both safely reached the top.
As the hours ticked by, the pain in my feet steadily increased to the point where it was hard to tolerate. When I reached my low point, I was searching the map for an escape route to shorten my misery. However, there was no easy way out. So Gabe taped up my feet, gave me some words of encouragement, and we pushed on. At some point in these monster hikes, the challenge evolves from one that is mostly physical to a primarily mental one. At that point I’m exhausted, I’m in agony, and sometimes I’m hallucinating. To succeed, one must ignore the pain and will oneself to finish.
The last 6 hours of our hike was miserable. I was exhausted and stumbled along in what felt like slow motion. I couldn’t see more that 20 feet in front of me. I was walking in a small bubble of light illuminated by my headlamp. In several places, a narrow trail cut across a steep slope. One false move and I would have plunged down to unknown depths and injuries.
When Gabe and I completed our hike 22 ½ hours after we started, I had mixed emotions. Part of me never wanted to do something like that again. However, an interesting phenomenon occurs when these monster hike are over. The pain fades, the blisters heal, and I start dreaming about doing another one.

Trip Report: Gila Wilderness trip

 

Location: Gila National Forest

State: New Mexico

Miles: 26

Days: 3

Type: In and Out


Impressions of the Gila Wilderness; three days and two nights along the Crest Trail, with a side on the Apache Holt trail to Apache Cabin and spring. Peak bagging along the way of Whitewater Baldy – 10,895; Center Baldy- 10,533 and Mongollon Baldy fire lookout–10,770. I guess about 26 miles.

It is incomparable in my mind to sit on a high peak, with the sun lowering, the view vast, and the comforts of camp nearby. I look over a green glow of the pointed conifers, making the lines of the peaks across the large valley shaggy yet flowing with the shapes of the steep slopes. A vague memory taps me; ah yes, reminds me of the Maze in Canyonlands. A great landscape with no evidence of man, no roads, buildings, agriculture, towers or mining tailings. I sit on Whitewater Baldy with the sun becoming a memory, the winds chasing the tree tops, and I rise to return to camp. I am the only one in Hummingbird saddle, situated nicely in the trees and sheltered from the wind.

The morning the birds start up as my natural alarm clock pre dawn. I love this time of day. With coffee in hand I wander in the small meadow, and experiment with the camera as the sun makes orange streaks through the trees. It’s cool and crisp. Its been warm in the day, even at 10,000 feet, where this trail stays, at least in the 80’s. The morning prior I had been camped on a small bench just above Apache cabin; between it and the small spring. I had a fair view out through the Aspens, and again my morning cup of java, I wandered in the cabin “yard” and looked out at the morning grace across the forever view.

The Crest trail is very nice, a good CCC trail. It is maintained, and the amount of fallen trees cut through testify to that maintenance. You drive up the narrow road out of Glenwood, through the not so ghost town of Mongollon, to the Sandy Point TH at about 9,300 feet, for the Mongollon Mountains. This is part of the massive Gila Wilderness, over 400,000 acres of it.
You hike through pines, firs, spruces, lots of little green plants along the trail, some flowering and some not. My favorites are the stands of Aspen, some so tall and old the trunks near the bottom are wrinkled, dark and give a lie to the species. Harbingers of old fires. I love walking in a deep forest, no sign of recent fires. Springs along the trail flow from Bead Spring, which was like its own stream, to Hobo Spring, a mucky seep, which gave my filter a run for it’s money.

My favorite of the Crest trail was the part past the junction with Apache- Holt trail. The trail soon becomes a little footpath through massive forest of ancient Douglas fir and Aspens, thick impressive stands, and clings narrowly to the steep mountain sides. It is about four miles from the junction one way to Mongollon Baldy and the fire lookout. I did this as a RT dayhike, having spent the night at Apache Cabin, then picked up my gear and overnighted it at Hummingbird, so as to have short 5 mile backpack out the third day.
The trail opens up about a mile from the summit of Mongollon Baldy, a lightning started fire in ’96 burned off a lot of the slope and the lookout was evacuated. Views here are tremendous over the Gila and southern New Mexico. The wind was up and the gusts through the burned standing trees mimiced eerie shreaks and moans.
At the top I felt a nervous sadness, from my lowly view I could see three large smoke clouds, fires, burning off to the east and south. The fire lookout was built in 1948 and the cabin earlier– in the 20’s I believe. I did not bother the lookout, I could hear voices from the tower, possibly on the radio reporting in.
Although far away I felt a little anxiety staying in the woods. I would not like to be here with fire around me.
My guidebook says this area has “moderate use”. Sat I saw no one, Sun I saw a family of four dayhiking from some base camp; then another solo backpacker took a break at Hummingbird Saddle, then moved on. Mon am on my short jaunt out I saw no one. Two vehicles at the TH besides mine. If this is moderate use I’ll take it.

Oh,yeah–my impressions?? Day one I struggled with the altitude and the up hill and carrying the pack, Day three I felt a sense of longing as I left; a sure sign I’ll return. It is one of the special ones, to roam and explore. And I have just started.

Trip Report: NOLS Wind River

Location: Wind River Range

State: Wyoming

Miles: 120

Days: 29

Type: Shuttle

Trip Background: I first heard about the National Outdoor Leadership School in early March 2005. One of my economics professors simply sent out an email to students in her class recommending NOLS as a outdoor recreation opportunity. She really didn’t say anything about her own experiences with NOLS, but I checked the NOLS website out and decided that it was something I wanted to do. At first, I signed up for a semester long course in the Rockies, but changed to a month long backpacking trip in the Wind River Mountain Range instead.

Route Summary: We started our trip June 9th on the middle fork of the Popo Agie just past Sinks Canyon. I think the trailhead was called Bruce’s Bridge. We had several layover days in the first two weeks of our trip and spent a good deal of time in class. We covered everything from baking, to LNT, to first aid. I think we only went about 35 miles in the first two weeks. Some of us did become frustrated with this but it was probably a good think looking back at it, some people needed the extra time for their body to adjust to the pack weight and elevation, not to mention basic survival skills.

It was about a week and a half into the trip when we first hit snow with our 40-70lb packs. Its funny looking back how we reacted to the snow throughout the trip. At first, it was fun being in shorts and having snow fights, however we quickly became frustrated with actually having to posthole through it. Just as quickly as our fun turned to frustration, we started to laugh and have fun again when we fell past our waist into the snow.

After a couple weeks of travel, we began to near the Cirque of Towers. The cirque was simply awesome. We made a dayhike up to Lonesome Lake through the snow and I think I burnt a full roll of film there. Definitely a highlight of the trip.

After staying east of the cirque a few miles we started what was probably our hardest day. We went north over Lizard Head trail for about 10 miles postholing the entire way at 11000 -12000 feet. I broke trail for the first group and I think we were on the actual trail for about 5 minutes. I probably worked the hardest that morning as almost everyone else simply followed in my tracks. Later in the afternoon, we hit a a lake forming as the snow melted from beneath and ended up postholing through a foot of snow with 2-3 feet of water below. The only other option was to go around and up another 500 feet so we just plowed through. Although we really didn’t have time to think about how cold and wet our feet were as an approaching thunderstorm forced us to quickly climb the last ridge near Cathedral Peak and run down the ridge to Bears Ears Trail.

A couple days later we crossed Washakie pass over the Continental Divide. At that point we were accustomed to the snow as we had been forced to camp on it a couple times already and were hiking in it every day. One of the guys walked the pass blindfolded because one of the girls lost her sunglasses somehow.

After crossing the Continental Divide we went south of Mt. Geikie a couple miles and took a 3 day layover where we were rerationed for the last time. While at this camp, we had a few classes on rock climbing and setup a couple top ropes nearby.

Soon after we began to hike NW to Raid Creek and started making preparations for our independent student groups at Rainbow Lake. I was chosen as one of the three leaders and would lead a group of 3 other students for four days to a final destination about 25 miles away near Meadow Lake in the Boulder Lake area. Overall, my independent student travel group had few, if any problems. However, we definitely were a bit frustrated with the mosquitoes and the lack of water. I remember almost running down the trail near Lake George and Horseshoe Lake because of them. That was an extremely long afternoon as it took another two hours to find a suitable camp with a decent water supply and a stiff breeze to limit the mosquitoes. That night we were in our tents at about 6pm and put rain gear on to cook even though it was about 80 degrees and sunny.

We then continued to our final camp to finish up student, course and instructor evaluations. Most importantly, we made a plan for food and candy the following day in town.

Overall, i think the final count for mileage was 113 over 30 days. That doesn’t include most of the day hikes though.

Food: I know how to cook a lot more food now. We had 2 rerations in the trip and for the most part had basic food ingredients with prepared trail food. We also had an extensive spice bag combined with cheese and sausage to make (almost)everything taste great. Later in the ration period, we definitely had some strange combinations…

Leadership: Everyday we would hike in groups of 4 with one person as the leader of the day. Earlier in the trip we would also hike with an instructor just following us. The leader would write a travel plan the day prior and be responsible for any decision making that came up on the trail. After each day, we would have a debrief on what the leader did well and what he or she could improve upon. We also had several evaluation periods with the instructors to discuss our development as leaders and other skills.

Independent Student Groups: The last week of the trip we had our independent student travel groups where one leader was chosen to lead three other students. The leaders were picked by the students and would make all necessary decisions for the next 5 days including routes and campsite selection. I was one of the three chosen for the independent group leader and was given the additional responsibilities. I kept a course log, monitored group moral/health, changed routes if necessary, and just made sure everyone kept having fun. We had no contact with the instructors during this period unless it was an emergency. Although they were always within 24 hours hiking time and we knew their route and camping locations each day.

Fishing: We brought 5 collapsible fly rods. Some of us caught a lot of brook trout early on, but I had the most fun near North Fork Lake with some large Cutthroats. I stood in the cold river for hours and loved every minute of it.

Instructors: Three instructors accompanied the group of twelve students for the duration of the trip. All three of them were knowledgeable and fun to hike with.

Friendship: The NOLS course was a great opportunity to meet new people from all over the country. We had many hours of laughter simply from hearing each other’s regional accents. My Wisconsin accent and pronunciation of “bag” brought laughter to every meal.

The long length of this trip also created tension between some members and strong bonds between others. Being with a group of people everyday for a month amplifies every little annoyance while bringing those most similar closer together.

Backpacking Trip Report: Badwater to Telescope Peak

Area: Death Valley National Park

State: California

Mileage: 20

Days: 2

Type: In and Out

Death Valley is amazing. On my first trip to the park I was simply blown away by the scenery. The geologic history is simply stunning. Our plan was to hike from Badwater, the lowest point in North America, to Telescope Peak, the highest point in the park; a change of 11,331 feet of elevation in 15 miles.

The first 6-7 miles was an easy hike up a canyon wash. It wasn’t much of a climb but was definitely a steady uphill. After a little further up the canyon our trail began to disappear and we started looking for places to scramble up the rest of the mountain. Our first choice was to head up a steep scree field to a ridge that looked to be a good line up the mountain. The first part of the climb to the ridge went smoothly but we quickly ended up climbing with all fours. It became so steep and loose that we were crawling on our knees!

During a short stop we made to reconsider our safety and route, I noticed what looked like a trail another half a mile up the canyon. After talking with my girlfriend, we decided to head back down to the wash and try this new trail. Standing in our way was the thickest brush I have ever seen in my life. The plants were growing on top of each other and we were literally walking through the tops of small trees.

The next morning we found what looked like an old trail heading up the mountain. We followed it for a quarter mile until it just stopped at a cliff. I’m not sure if it was a old road to a mine or what but it brought an end to our trip. We decided that we did not have enough time to find another way up. Instead we hiked back to our car and drove to the actual trailhead to Telescope Peak. It was worth the views and we read in the peak register that another couple had tried the same thing and was successful on the third try.

Backpacking Trip Report: Dale Mining District

State:

California

Location: Near Joshua Tree Nat’l Park

Type: Loop

Mileage: 5
Days: 3

OK, this wasn’t really a backpacking trip, we drove through in 4WD and camped. Still, the area would have been fun to explore on foot, so here’s the report.

I have often camped at Joshua Tree Nat’l Park, and while it’s a beautiful place, I was always intrigued by the blank space on the map labeled only as the ‘Pinto Basin’. Theres a few places along the park road where you can look down into it. Its just a huge, flat, empty, remote space. I’ve never met anyone who had been there. So, naturally, I had to go…

A little research revealed that the easy way in is not from the park, but to drive down from the north through the Dale Mining District. About 13 miles east of Twentynine Palms is ‘Gold Crown Road’, which eventually becomes ‘Old Dale Road’ and proceeds through mountains, into the basin, down a many mile long jeep trail of deep sand, and finally into the park.

So, on the last weekend of February, my daughter and I loaded up the ol’ Ford 4×4 and headed east.

When you leave the pavement on hwy 62 east of twentynine palms, the road starts out innocently, leading straight and narrow with just a few inches of sand. About 4 miles down the road the road forks, and you reach the first of many mines, shafts and audits. This is the Virgina Dale mine. Here you’ll find a short tunnel ending in a shaft, a rusty overturned car, a few cyanide vats, and some concrete foundations. We collected a few shiny rocks, but nothing of any value.

Now the road becomes rougher, and from here on 4WD was required. We went another couples miles, past a few more old rusty cars and a few audits and mine tailing piles, then pulled over and camped on a ridge with a great south view. We spent two days here, exploring and enjoying the last of the Southern California winter weather. Sunny, but only in the mid 70s. By mid summer, it will still be sunny, but running in the 90s-100s temperature.

We drove over to the nearby Supply Mine, and found a VERY long tunnel to explore. This must have been one of the largest mines in the area, with water tanks, concreate foundations, multiple tunnels and shafts, rock walls from what must have been a cabin, scattered sheets of corregated steel, and the biggest pile of rusty tin cans I have ever seen. It completely filled a ravine, nearly an acre long and maybe 12 feet deep.
Again, we collected a few shiny rocks. Some pieces of quartz so pure it looked as dazzling as sugar in the sun. No gold though, so it looked look I would have to drive back home to go to work on Monday.

Since we had the truck, we brought all the luxuries we don’t usually have when backpacking. Plenty of water for hot showers, the meat smoker to cook ribs, cots to sleep off the ground, etc… Well, we got lazy and spent the rest of the weekend there, and never did get all the way down into the Pinto Basin.

Trip Report: Wind River Range

Friday, July 15
After work, I left for the airport and my flight to Denver, Colorado. When I got to Denver I was to meet up with the Captn and his son Tom. My 6:00 PM flight left the gate right on time, but we sat on the runway until about 7:00 waiting for clearance to take off. I phoned the Captn to let him know. The flight went smoothly and I was only 10 minutes late. I got to baggage claim and within 5 minutes or so the Captn was ringing my cell. I told him where I was and soon heard him calling my name. He said that he figured I was the “guy walking around the airport with fishing rod in hand…” We located the hotel shuttle and within about ½ hour, we were at our hotel. We settled in and the Captn ordered pizza for supper. I called coloradodcs, our ride from Denver to Lander, and then called powerhiker to let him know we were here. After chatting for a couple of hours with the Captn and Tom, we drifted off to dreamland.

Saturday, July 16
Coloradodcs arrived at the hotel. After stowing our gear in his truck we hit the highway. We met up with powerhiker along the way and I switched over to his van. From there the caravan was off to Lander, connected by two-way radios. It was a pleasant drive. We stopped in Rawlins for lunch and were back on the road in less than an hour. The landscape changed about every 15 minutes or so. We saw dry fields leading up to rolling hills, groves of trees, and red rock formations with the rock strata canted at weird angles. There were rounded piles of rocks, which powerhiker said were a lot like what you would see in the Vaudevoos (sp?) He talked about his recent trail maintenance trip and we both remarked that we couldn’t believe our trip had actually started. Along the way we saw pronghorn roaming the plains, some even close to the road. Before long, we saw signs for Lander and knew we were close. When we checked in at the hotel we found that just about everyone was already there: eduk8er and Trail Angel; Foggy, Mr. Foggy, and TroutBoy; LiRM35 and showmehiker; Jaywalker and HighHills; Zipee and hikes-with-dumbbell; JeffB and Trail Turtle. With the Captn, Tom, coloradodcs, powerhiker and me there was only one missing. Not long after we arrived, bunion pulled in and the group was complete. We visited with everyone, reuniting with friends we knew and getting acquainted with the newcomers. It was great – and I got to get there before 2 AM this year – with all of my gear intact! Supper was at 6:30 so we unloaded and cleaned up. We got our fishing licenses and some other “stuff” then went back to the hotel where we gathered to leave for supper at Cowfish, the local watering hole. Before we left for the restaurant, Foggy and Mr. Foggy gave out our official team t-shirts for this year’s trip. I handed out embroidered patches and Leave no Trace cards to everyone. Supper was a really fun time as we continued to get to know each other. The excitement of the group was electric as each of us talked about our expectations for the trip. After supper, we hung out in the park behind the hotel until about 10 PM, and then off to our rooms for our last sleep in a bed for awhile.

At the Trailhead: In front – PowerHiker and Bunion
L to R: Trail Angel, Eduk8er, JeffB, JayWalker, HighHills, TrailTurtle, Hikes-with-dumbbell, Zipee,
Coloradodcs, Tom, the Captn, TroutBoy, ShowmeHiker, LiRM35, Foggy, Squilax, Mr. Foggy
(photo by JayWalker)

Sunday, July 17
We gathered at 7:42 AM in front of eduk8er’s room. With gear in vehicles and coffee in hand, we eagerly anticipated heading for the trailhead at the Worthen Meadows reservoir. The convoy left, traveling through town then up through Sinks Canyon to the dirt track that led us into the mountains. Following switchback after switchback, we finally arrived on top past Frye Lake to the reservoir and parking lot. There were a few vehicles already there, including horse and llama (yes, LLAMA) trailers. We gathered our gear, making sure we didn’t leave anything necessary behind (right eduk8er??). We made final pit stops, and then headed up the trail. Did I say UP? It sure was – almost all the way! It was soon apparent that there were two sub-groups in this cadre of backcountry explorers. One group of fairly quick-paced folk including Trail Turtle, whom we all were sure, spoke with a forked tongue about her hiking style! The rest of us: eduk8er, Trail Angel, the Captn, Tom and I, kept a steady, but more relaxed pace, taking photos and talking along the way. We took more breaks than the lead group, but we enjoyed the pace as we trudged up to the pass at 10,600 feet. We found a nice spot to stop next to a waterfall. It was a welcome relief to drop the pack, have lunch and string up my hammock for a siesta. I thought I had tested both of the trees I was using, but against Tom’s better judgment, I tied off the foot end of the hammock to a very large, but very dead, tree. Just about the time I began to doze off (about 15 minutes or so) I heard cracking and snapping and opened my eyes to see the huge trunk falling my way. It was like viewing in slow motion as the tree’s roots let loose from the dry ground and fell toward me veering off to my right and landing with a resounding THUD on the ground. I can’t recall ever seeing eduk8er on his feet so quickly! He jumped up shouting, thinking I was under the tree, and everyone scurried over to find me sitting leisurely in my hammock, on the ground, with a very surprised look on my face! We all laughed, nervously, thinking about what the outcome might have been. Powerhiker had come down to meet us and we got back on the trail. We laughed about this escapade more than once during the rest of the week. Heh heh… We made it to the top of the pass around suppertime, and what a view from the dinner table! Across from us were the Wind River Mountains, including Wind River Peak, snow covered in all its glory. What a sight to behold! Powerhiker and showmehiker were waiting on top for us and had water to refill our supply. They didn’t want our two groups to be out of touch with each other. As they went down to meet up with the rest of the Wanderers, powerhiker said he’d be back a little later to camp with us up on the pass. We ate supper and soon after, a couple of the members in our group felt dizzy and nauseated, so we decided to head down for lower elevations to help alleviate their symptoms. As we started downhill, I tried to raise powerhiker on the radio but he was already coming over the ridge below us. We told him what was going on, and he joined us in our descent. He had already climbed that pass three times today, so I was sure he was tired and hungry. We found a nice spot to set up camp for the night and as it was close to 9 PM, we decided to stop while we still had light to see. There was a stream nearby and our campsite was nestled in a dense copse of evergreens a couple hundred feet off and below the trail. Powerhiker and I slung our hammocks – I looked for two sturdy, very LIVE trees this time – while everyone else put up their tents. Once situated, I lit my candle lantern, set it on a large flat rock and laid back looking up at the stars beginning to show between the branches above. I thought to myself, “what a beautiful day this turned out to be”. Powerhiker joined me with his Indian flute. He sat nearby, and the mournful tones emanating from this carved piece of wood blended into the surroundings. How appropriate! The moon, the stars, and Native music! It was plaintive, but soothing and relaxing as I laid back and looked up into the sky. We talked for awhile in between songs and it felt good to be one with nature.

Monday, July 18
We awoke and busied ourselves with breakfast, cleanup and repacking our gear. I asked eduk8er if he’d like to lighten his pack a bit – I thought he had brought my supper meals. He looked at me surprised and asked, “What do you mean?” I realized he had not brought my food with him. He assumed I had brought everything I needed, so he left my meal packs in the back of his truck – 7 miles away… We had a good laugh over that one. As it turned out, nobody went hungry. The food I brought, in addition to the fish we caught during the week was more than enough to see us through. Some of the point group passed by on their way to the creek to restock their water supply, so we chatted with them about the day before. We headed down to their camp, discovering that it was only another few hundred yards away and met up with the rest. Foggy, Mr. Foggy and TroutBoy decided to hang out with us on the trail today, so when everyone was ready we set off. Keeping our leisurely pace, we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the fellowship, getting to know the Foggys again. It seemed all we did was laugh and carry on, as if it really hadn’t been a year since we last saw each other. We made it to Bill’s Park that afternoon and set up camp across the river. During suppertime, Foggy built a great campfire and we enjoyed our meal together, gathered around the fire telling jokes, swapping stories and engaging in animated conversation for most of the evening. We watched the stars come out and saw the almost full moon rise through the trees. The Captn and Tom were beginning to recover from their distress of being at altitude and everyone was having a great time.

Tuesday, July 19
Sometime during the night, the cords on my hammock stretched on one side and I found myself lying towards one edge of the hammock instead of comfortably snuggled in the center. Fortunately, my hammock has sewn-in bug netting, so I didn’t fall out. Unfortunately though, the side that had loosened during the night was opposite the side from where the opening was. When I awoke to the sounds of everyone having breakfast, I tried to get out of the hammock, but kept rolling backwards away from the opening. After struggling, but before taking out my knife to cut myself loose, I was finally able to roll up and out. Eduk8er yelled, “Look – it’s giving birth!” and I found myself sitting on the ground. We all laughed at this and I was soon OK as I had my first cup of coffee. After breakfast, I decided to do some fishing and exploring. The Foggys had taken off downstream to pursue some elusive brook trout, and several of us soon followed suit. The radio crackled to life and we heard “powerhiker to Winds Wanderers” come across the airwaves. Eduk8er answered the call. Powerhiker, showmehiker, Zipee and bunion had all reached the top of Wind River Peak and they were checking in with us. We found out that JeffB was not feeling up to par and that he and powerhiker would be joining us later in the day. After lunch, we lounged by the river taking in the beauty that surrounded us. This was a good time to catch up on everything that had transpired since we saw each other last. During the day, everyone contributed to the stringer of fish that was to become our supper that night. Foggy, Trail Angel, the Captn and I had the job of preparing the fish and then it was time for the Bill’s Park Trout Cook off. We ended up with four different fish dishes for supper – Trout Chowder, Lemonade Poached Trout, Italian Spiced Trout and Cajun Blackened Trout. What made it taste even better was that we were eating it outdoors, sharing it with friends. Powerhiker and JeffB joined us in time to finish off the last of the fish. Tonight turned out to be an early to bed night for everyone as the fresh air and activity had worn us all out.

Wednesday, July 20
Woke up to a beautiful morning and today was pretty much like Tuesday. Fishing, lounging, napping, talking, but with one new activity – swimming! JEEZ! That water was FREAKIN’ COLD! Tom and I worked up the nerve to get in, and we swam across the river. It definitely was, uh, refreshing – yeah, that’s it! Others joined in – TroutBoy, eduk8er, and Trail Angel. The nice thing after the swim was that the sun was warm and the mountain breeze helped us to dry off quickly. When we gathered later at the fire, three of us showed up in an unofficial “uniform of the day”. Mr. Foggy, eduk8er and I were all wearing green cargo pants and long sleeved white shirts! We all laughed, and someone, I can’t remember if it was Foggy or Trail Angel, asked us if we planned this ahead of time. It was pretty comical. Zipee and hikes-with-dumbbell joined us later as the other group of Wanderers stopped by. They were all headed for the Stough Creek Lakes and were checking in with us. Another supper of trout and various accompaniments awaited us tonight. JeffB was a lot perkier today as he acclimated to the lower elevation.

Thursday, July 21
Today we decided to pack up and head out. The afternoon before, powerhiker, eduk8er and Zipee pored over the map to set the route back to the reservoir. We set out for Sheep Bridge to camp there for the night. This would give us a short hike on our last day. We stopped occasionally for photos and broke for lunch a little past Gill’s Park. It was here that the Popo Agie River opened up into a beautiful lake and looking back, we viewed the reflection of the mountains on its calm surface. Today’s lunch break was no different than all the other meal times… our sides ached and some of us had tears running down our faces from laughing so hard. It was terrific to be in the company of such a wonderful group of friends! We made it to Sheep Bridge and set up camp. This was a beautiful site. We had a huge flat rock for our kitchen and dining area and the river was not too far away. There were shallow pools at the edge of the water where we soothed our feet and legs and we washed off the accumulated dust from the trail. After supper, powerhiker entertained us with more flute music and we awaited the sight of the full moon over the mountain. We relived the week’s experiences with each other, thinking about plans for next year and talking about some possible locations for next summer’s gathering.

Friday, July 22
As promised, the hike out was a short one. Although the beginning was all uphill, we found a nice rest spot up on top and took a break. The Foggys, TroutBoy, powerhiker, Zipee, and hikes-with-dumbbell preceded the rest of us and we took our time together, not wanting this awesome week to draw to a close. As it turned out, we were less than ½ hour from the parking lot when we took our break. When we crested the next rise we saw the reservoir below. It wasn’t long before we reunited with the rest of our group. Powerhiker was waiting with bottles of Gatorade for all of us. When we were all there and loaded up, we headed down the mountain. We stopped briefly to check out Sink’s Canyon. This is an oddity of nature where the Popo Agie River disappears underground into a cave and reappears further downstream in a deep pool filled with huge trout. At the hotel, we cleaned up and awaited the arrival of the other group of Wanderers. We met up at Cowfish again. This time when we got to the restaurant there was no power. Such are the tribulations of being on a trip with eduk8er! We spent the time visiting and comparing notes from the week while waiting for power to be restored. Dinner was great. Afterward, we went back to eduk8er’s room to watch a slide show that Trail Angel had put together including photos from everyone who had a digital camera. We hung out for awhile in the parking lot. Jaywalker handed out some mementos and a special treat from Kentucky. I don’t think anyone wanted to see this trip come to an end!
Location: Wind River Range

State: Wyoming

Miles: 32

Days: 6

Type: In and Out

Saturday, July 23
Joined the Wanderers for breakfast at the Oxbow. Jaywalker and HighHills, LiRM35 and showmehiker, bunion, and Trail Turtle left either before breakfast or the night before. When we were finished, we packed up for the ride home. We said our goodbyes and the Captn, Tom and I piled into coloradodcs’ truck, headed for Denver. Powerhiker, Zipee, and hikes-with-dumbbell left for Pinedale and another week in the Winds. The Foggys and TroutBoy headed off to Washington. Eduk8er and Trail Angel did their final packing and would be on the road soon. We headed south to Rawlins and stopped in at the Subway where we had lunch on the way up. Eduk8er called me and said he wasn’t far behind us. When I saw him pull in, I traveled the rest of the way to Denver with him and Trail Angel. The Captn got a phone call from his niece in Boulder. She was picking him and Tom up at the hotel so we wouldn’t be getting the chance to say goodbye. I also missed saying goodbye to coloradodcs (for the second year running). The three of us – eduk8er, Trail Angel, and me – stopped at the Cracker Barrel for supper then went to the hotel. We hung out in the hot tub for awhile and then called it a night. I was really grateful for this “bonus” time with eduk8er and his wife.

Sunday, July 24
We drove over to the airport after breakfast and said our goodbyes there. I wish this trip could have continued, but all good things eventually come to an end. Well – There’s always next year! Bandelier in March and who knows where next July??

Backpacking Trip Report: Pyramid Peak

State:

Washington

Location: North Cascades National Park

Type: In and Out

Mileage: 10
Days: 2
After a few weeks of not getting to the top of anything, (tiger doesn’t count tongue.gif ) I was getting hungry for a summit. But where to go? To the North Cascades of course! I’ve been spending a lot of time in the n.c. this winter because I love the views. Unfortunately, the weather can be bad a lot of the time. Most times when it’s nice everywhere else, it’ll be bad in the n.c. To get around this issue, I figured if I went there nearly every weekend, my chances of good weather would improve! I had been fiendishly checking the weather all week, and it was not looking good for the weekend. On the other hand, it was not looking good anywhere in the state, for saturday anyway.Laurie and Katie arrived at my place at 5am on saturday morning. I wanted to give them the dire weather report, and give them fair chance to bail. Not that there was anything to bail to. We all agreed to go anyway, 100% chance of precip. be darned!

Medium rain had slowed to light mist by the time we left the car. We were on the trail to pyramid lake by 8:15am. (1100ft) We followed the trail until it became obscured by snow, after which we followed the creek up towards pyramid lake but never crossed over to the lake itself (not really worth seeing, IMO), instead we headed up steep timbered slopes until we reached an undefined ridge with an open area where we stopped for lunch(4500). It had been snowing lightly since 2000ft and there were no views at all. We were wearing snowshoes, but removed them for the next steep slope ahead. Two rocky, cliffy areas we encountered were bypassed to the right(north). We broke out into open alpine slopes at about 5200ft. I strained my eyes for views, but alas, all was obscured by fog and snow. We found a semi sheltered place for camp(5350ft) and set up the “baby”.

The “baby” was a 3 person, 4 season tent we had borrowed for this trip. Since I wasn’t familiar with this type of ‘suspended in the fly’ tent, I didn’t want to take it all apart to split up the weight between us for fear that I wouldn’t be able to re-assemble it properly in a snowstorm embarassedlaugh.gif We worked out a system instead, where we would rotate the baby every few hours so each of us could have the pleasure of carrying the whole tent (minus the poles, of course). After my turn with the baby, I handed it over to Laurie, who didn’t want to give it up once she had it. Katie and I couldn’t find a reason to complain about this situation up.gif

After some april tomfoolery with the tent poles, we had our palace set up for the night, and went to sleep to the sound of snow hitting the tent, and hopes for views and maybe even a summit in the morning.

All that was hidden the previous day was revealed in all its glory for us on sunday morning! But, we had slept in too long to make a real summit bid – or had we? We had some breakfast (can’t climb without coffee doh.gif ), and set off with day packs toward the col at the base of Pyramid peak, which was only about 20min. from camp. We were ready to have a look at the traverse we would need to do below the east face of pyramid peak to gain the colonial glacier. Our route would be a U-shaped one, and traverse below paul bunyans stump and Pinnacle peak in order to gain the easy south slope of pyramid peak. The traverse from the col to the snout of the colonial glacier was the crux of the climb. It was an exposed traverse, and would have to be done one at a time, quickly.

We stood at the col, sizing up the route ahead. We had many factors against us and few in our favor. The sun had been baking the slope for hours, and as we stood there, snowball after snowball rolled down its length. We had decided to leave the snowshoes in camp (a weird call, in retrospect) and were postholing and moving slowly because of it. We would have to re-cross this slope later in the day, which would make it even more dangerous than it was right now. We all decided it would be unsafe to cross, and climbed up and over the knob to the east of the col to get out of the wind, sit in the sun, and enjoy the views. About 10 minutes later, we heard the thunder of a good sized slide, and ran back up to the knob to take a look. The slope had released a good sized, long running wet slide right across where one of us would have been had we gone. eek.gif No foolin’.

We were happy with the decision we made, and made our way back to pack up the “baby” and head down. From a couple thousand feet below, we could look up and still see the slide path. A leisurely descent had us back at the car by 4pm with many hours of daylight left!! We almost had time for another hike…… wink.gif

Trip Report: Bandelier National Monument

Location: Bandelier Nation Monument

State: New Mexico

Miles: 8

Days: 2

Type: In and Out

Friday, March 11 – I worked until 3:30 and left for the airport. I flew into Austin by way of Dallas to meet up with eduk8er. He picked me up outside the baggage claim area around 11:30 PM and we hit the road, headed for New Mexico. We drove until about 3:00 AM or so and pulled off into a rest stop to catch a few winks before continuing the journey.

Saturday, March 12 – Awake at 6:30 AM, eduk8er started up the truck and we were “on the road again”. We stopped briefly for breakfast along the way and the miles started rolling by. After what seemed like an eternity, we arrived in Clines Corner, NM. We called power_hiker from there, around 6:00 PM or so, and told him we’d probably be able to make Juniper Campground in Bandelier by about 7:30. When we arrived, we were greeted by power_hiker and CuervoBravo. They waited for us to get there to light the campfire. CuervoBravo had driven up from Socorro, NM to provide us with transportation from the Bandelier Visitor Center to our trailhead (what a nice guy!). We ate supper and laid out our sleeping pads and bags on the ground, then sat around the fire getting to know these two new companions.

Sunday, March 13 – I got up around 9:00 AM and the other three were already stirring. They had made and eaten their breakfasts, so I made mine while eduk8er repackaged our food for the week. Once done and cleaned up, I dragged my pack out of his truck and we began loading up for our adventure in the backcountry of Bandelier. We left for the Visitor Center and once there, we transferred our gear to Cuervo’s van. Eduk8er went in to get the permit and the three of us wandered around, taking in some of the sights. I checked out the gift shop and books while we waited. When eduk8er had our permit in hand, we piled into Cuervo’s van and headed for the Apache Spring trailhead. When we got there, a ranger pulled up to make sure we had everything in order. We were finally on the trail! We hiked in about ½ to ¾ of a mile and met up with some pockets of snow. As we made our way further up the trail, there was more snow, crusted over enough to walk, at least for a few steps at a time, before post-holing – sometimes up to our knees. After following this snowy track for awhile, eduk8er suggested that maybe we should go back to the van and enter Frijoles Canyon by way of the trailhead out of Ponderosa Campground. That is what we did. The trail from Ponderosa was very easy going. It was great to be out in this magnificent forest on my way into a land I had never been to before. We reached the canyon rim and began our descent. Man! What a lot of switchbacks there were! Being from the east, I usually don’t encounter more than four or five switchbacks on a section of trail at any given time. On this descent, I lost track of their number. Each turn gave us a beautiful view. The day was mild with hardly a breeze, and I could smell the butterscotch scent in the air from the Ponderosa pines lining this canyon wall. We arrived at the bottom of the canyon and eduk8er remarked that he didn’t remember ever seeing so much water in Frijoles Creek. We sure wouldn’t be lacking water on this trip! We stopped to eat lunch at Upper Crossing Junction. It felt good to drop the pack, lean back against a comfortable rock and have something to eat and drink. CuervoBravo had accompanied us in but was going to head back home this afternoon, so we visited a while longer until he had to go. We packed up and hiked further down the trail finding a nice campsite to set up for the night. We strung tarps, laid out sleeping pads, sleeping bags, food and other necessary gear, organizing our site. Camp chores took up some of the time – filtering water, setting up the stoves, selecting food for supper and preparing our evening meal. Just before dark, I noticed a light sprinkling rain beginning to fall. During the night, as the temperature fell, the rain turned to snow.

Monday, March 14 – We woke up early to the sounds of eduk8er smacking the tarp to knock off the accumulated snow. There was about 8-10 inches of the white stuff on the ground already and it was still coming down – thick! We ate a hastily prepared breakfast, packed up quickly and headed down the trail toward the Visitor Center and our cars (where we would pick up the rest of our supplies and gaiters). I also discovered that I had left my gloves in the truck, so I improvised and used a pair of wool socks for mittens. We shuffled through the powdery snow, still accumulating on the trail, crossing the creek many, many times. Some of the crossings were quite easy, using the log bridges that were in place. Other crossings were done gingerly stepping from rock to log, to rock, to shore. Even though I was as careful as possible, I still managed to occasionally slip into the stream, a couple of times going in over my boot tops – OOPS! That was COLD water! When we reached the approximate halfway point to the Visitor Center, eduk8er found a nice, dry overhang/cave so we stopped and made something hot to drink and ate some lunch. After a half-hour break, we continued slogging our way to the VC and our vehicles. It ended up taking almost seven hours to go approximately 6¼ miles. The VC (and the entire Monument) was closed but there were a couple of rangers at the office. We got in our cars, warmed up, and headed into the closest town – Los Alamos. When we were close to the VC, power_hiker asked me if I would mind if we spent tonight at a motel – I told him I was going to suggest the same thing, but didn’t want them to think I was “wussing out”… LOL! We did just that – got a motel room, hung out our wet gear all over the room, took hot showers and went out for a hot meal. It was nice sleeping in a warm DRY bed that night.

Tuesday, March 15 – When I got up it was still snowing. We turned on the weather channel to find out that the northeast section of the state was totally shut down due to the weather. This ended up working to our advantage because we used this down time from the trip to work out the details for the Wind River trip in July. We went to the grocery store and I went shopping for a pair of waterproof boots. In the evening we walked to a nearby restaurant for supper and some local brews. You’ve got to try the Woodchuck Cider sometime. It was awesome.

Wednesday, March 16 – Feeling a touch of cabin fever by now, it was nice to finally see the sun. We packed everything up and went back to Bandelier. The contrast of the deep blue sky and the stark white of the snow on the ground was unbelievable! We took the loop hike from the Visitor Center to the village ruins and cliff dwellings, checking out some of the caves, wall paintings and petroglyphs. During our travels, we saw mule deer nearby. We decided not to go out to the backcountry because of the weather, so we ended up back at Juniper Campground where this adventure started. We sat around the campfire, made dinner and talked about everything that had happened. Tonight we slept out on the ground.

Thursday, March 17 – Got awake around 9 or 9:30. Not feeling in any hurry today, we had a casual breakfast. We decided to head towards home today – power_hiker going back to Colorado to hopefully beat another weather front moving into his area, and eduk8er and I headed south through Santa Fe and Albuquerque hoping to meet up with CuervoBravo for dinner in Socorro. We stopped at the REI in Albuquerque to check out a few things. While I looked at gore-tex bivy sacks, eduk8er picked up a few items, including a new Jet Boil stove. We made it to Socorro by about 4:30 and I was able to raise CuervoBravo on the telephone. We met up with him at a local steakhouse and had a great time together over dinner. He was heading up to Taos on Friday morning for the weekend to do some cross-country skiing with friends, so it wasn’t a late night. We ended up staying in Socorro.

Friday, March 18 – Getting a pretty early start, we left for Three Rivers to visit the Petroglyphs National Recreation Area. On the way, we passed through the Valley of Fires, a series of lava beds covering a fairly large area south toward White Sands. We spent about 3 hours searching the rocks and taking photos of various rock pictures we discovered. Leaving the petroglyph site, we headed over to the Lincoln National Forest where Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett once roamed and the home of Smokey the Bear. We stopped briefly in Capitan at the Smokey Bear Museum and looked around in a couple of souvenir shops, then got back on the road. The next stop was Roswell. Yes, the site of the infamous UFO crash in 1947. Almost all the local businesses were decorated in an outer space theme – even the streetlights resembled alien faces. After eating supper, we headed to Texas and stopped for the night in Big Spring.

Saturday, March 19 – We were up and on the road by shortly after 9:00 AM. Our final destination was the airport in Austin, where I was scheduled to catch my flight back to Philadelphia at 7:00 that night. It was a long day on the road and we got to the airport by 4:30 – plenty of time to check in. I arranged for an earlier flight to Dallas because a severe wind and rainstorm was blowing up. Eduk8er and I said our good-byes and I told him I was really looking forward to the Winds trip in July. My flight arrived in Philadelphia about 20 minutes later than planned – around 1:00 AM. From there it was about a two hour drive home.

We got a taste of the Southwest in more ways than one. There were lots of different weather patterns, terrific food and local microbrews, and we made a couple more new friends – power_hiker and CuervoBravo. I’d like to attempt this trip again next year on spring break – maybe the weather will be more appropriate for spring than this year was!

Trip Report: Wind River Solo

Location: Wind River Range

State: Wyoming

Miles: 40

Days: 5

Type: In and Out

Trip Background: Ever since returning from my NOLS backpacking trip, I couldn’t wait to get back into the mountains. A solo backpacking trip was the only solution as I didn’t have anyone to go with on such short notice. I also decided to return to the Wind River Range in Wyoming because of my familiarity with the area and so that I may visit some friends in Colorado.

Route: Middle Fork Trailhead to Pinto Park Trail to North Fork Trail to Cirque of the Towers and back. Approximately 45 miles over a 5 day trip. Late August 2005.

Pictures: I really didnt take many pictures. Some of the pictures were taken simply for comparison of camp spots from my NOLS trip in June.

August 19th: lots of people with horses on the trail, although I was still close to trailhead. feeling pretty good physically even though I had left WI less than 24 hours earlier and had only 2 hours of sleep at various waysides. already at planned first camp by 1:20 and will continue hiking to three forks park for a total of 11 miles. the weather is great. high 70’s with a cool breeze.

August 20th: got out of the tent at 9:30 and made breakfast. I was on the trail at 11:00 with the plan to hike 5 miles to Pinto Park. only saw 4 people total today, but was off trail and in camp by early afternoon. made some dough for pizza and cinnamon rolls in my spare time. definately notice the need to hike longer so that I’m not in camp all day long by myself.

August 21st: woke up last night to “animal noises’ at about 10 pm. I crawled out of my tent and saw a small herd of elk in the moonlight about 150 yards away. I really wish I could have taken a picture. woke up at about 9:30 and used the rest of the dough for breakfast.

I started hiking at about 11:30 and went approximately 6 miles to the base of Lizard Head Trail with an awesome view of the Cirque. I was planning on taking Lizard Head trail and changing my route to include a larger loop over to Dickinson Creek Park. a storm forced me into my tent later in the afternoon.

August 22nd: woke up at 6:00 to get ready for the longer day on Lizard Head Trail. noticed someone camped above me 300 yards back; they must have gotten in during the rain yesterday. also saw lots of nasty clouds this morning so I sat in camp until about 8 to see if the clouds would clear out, but it must have been a front moving through. decided against the route change because of how exposed the trail is and hiked back to the North Fork of the Popo Agie. didnt want to take too many chances while solo. the hike down reminded me how much I hate doing steep downhill sections.

I had camp setup by 9:30 near Papoose Lake along the North Fork of the Popo Agie River. at about 10:30 a storm blew in and dumped some rain on me. at about 11:15 I crawled out of the tent and went fishing for the next couple hours. at one point I was catching fish every other cast with a spinning rod and spoon. I really wished I had a fly rod though.

later in the afternoon I took a shower using my nalgene and washed all of my clothes out. I was still considering changing my route a bit at this point to make a loop near Shoshone Lake. I spent a long time today just sitting in camp…

August 23rd: something rubbed up against the side of the tent in the middle of the night. I just told myself it was a marmot(it was something smaller) and somehow fell back asleep. woke up at about 7 and made a quick breakfast out of powerbars. I started to get lazy with making nice meals a couple days in.

cleaned up camp and started hiking at 9. the plan was simply to hike as far as I felt like going today and camp wherever I stopped. three spots I had picked considered before setting out were pinto park, three forks park and sheeps bridge. at about 11:30, i had already passed pinto park on my way down to three forks park. i stopped at the pinto park trail and middle fork trail intersection around 1:00 to take a break and fix up my feet a bit. I actually had a couple blisters which were caused from hiking so much the first day and my feet not bing used to the work. at this point I had already gone about 11 or 12 miles and felt great besides the feet, so I kept on hiking.

by the time I made it near Sheep’s Bridge, I had decided I was going to test my physical limits and hike until 5 or 6. this would put me close to or at the trailhead. at about 5:00, I got a glimpse of the water falls above Sink’s Canyon and became determined to hike all the way to the trailhead. at about 5:45 I set my pack against my car and began the adjustment back to civilization. in all, I hiked 21 miles in just under 9 hours.

Summary: I had a lot of fun on my solo backpacking trip. It really didnt take me much adjustment to deal with the loneliness factor as I am already am a rather independent person. The scariest part of the trip was definately not when I was in the woods, but while I was driving. On the way out to Wyoming, I drove through a nasty storm in South Dakota and simply driving through RMNP while visiting friends in Colorado tested my nerves. I definately plan on backpacking again, but it will have to wait until next spring/summer unfortunately.