|New snow in the high country|
This past weekend on
September 17th, 2011 a friend and I had a plan to go up high in the mountains. As Saturday approached, the weather had gone slightly downhill and rain was forecasted. Cool temperatures surely meant snow in the high alpine and thus our plans were changing and in motion. Luckily, our first back up plan suited us both well. The route to be explored potentially had excellent ridge walking, peak bagging, alpine meadows, high plateaus and large scale grandeur.
A second mountaineering excursion with a good friend, I now knew what to expect: a late start, late summit, and late finish. Not my normal plan, but I was game and the outing involved some peak bagging and had no significant grades.
|Fall in Wyoming|
Including the drive, we were on the trail by… 10. I had been up the first portion of the trail a few times and kept a steady pace to gain time on the day. The first 6.5 miles is on a great trail and took us up 3,500 feet. We were met at the alpine saddle by big views, clouds, sun, wind, and cool temperatures. A trace of new snow outlined the shady north faces. The conditions were perfect and we set off across the high expanse above tree line.
|Bella: route finding|
Surrounded by peaks, we made our way through high alpine meadows and ridges over 10,000 feet. After a few hours of travel we were on the second summit enjoying the views.
It was just after and we were off the 11,400+ summit in 5 minutes. The wind was gusting on the ridges and summits and we knew we had best be heading for the car as the day light would soon fade. After a quick look off the summit to find a fast approach to the new trail, we decided to back track. After a few miles, the shadows cast their prominence and the temperatures plunged. We snuck up over the ridge where we had last seen the trail. This trail would loop us back to the car, but neither of us had been on it before. We checked the map one last time and agreed to drop down and merge the trail. We were soon on the trail and now we were racing the remaining light of the day. Alpenglow on the peaks made us stare and stumble down the trail.
Soon, the light was fading and we were quickly making haste to get closer to the trailhead. It was a futile effort as we both knew we would have to circumnavigate a large mountain in the process. Darkness came upon us, we grabbed our headlamps and were off again. Three hours and 15 minutes after dawning the headlamps we stumbled off the trail and into the parking lot at 11:15pm. A long day in the mountains, good company, summits, beautiful terrain, and evening/night stars made for a great Fall hike. Bella dog was strong the entire day and was great company as well.