It was a cool chilly morning, as we packed our things together. Izzie went to soak her foot in the river as I finished packing up the tent. Still not sure how she manages that first thing in the morning, it must be excruciating. The cold wind was low, water white noise high from the nearby creek when we finally strapped our packs on ready to take our first steps.
As we hiked up the valley we watched the creek roll down its belly in beautiful white cascading falls, sometimes fanning out, sometimes flowing over slick granite, others crashing onto large rocks. We left our hoods on as we climbed up the valley. Our hands shot with pain as the blood finally flowed back into our hands again. Izzie went to cross a creek and unwittingly placed a foot on an icy rock, slllip, wet feet on an already cold morning. The only saving grace is that we had a large climb to keep us warm.
The sun still hadn’t found our faces as we quietly passed the uppermost trail camp a few miles below the pass. It was the last big forested refuge before the stark landscape above. There were still quite a few tents nestled below the trees, still quiet with sleeping hikers stowed away. As we climbed higher we heard a sooty grouse make his un-deniable mating call, a low woomph woomph woomphhh. I love hearing such interesting birds, especially far out in the backcountry!
The frosty soil crunched beneath our feet as we ascended to Pinchot Pass. The interesting ice columns that grew below the soil’s surface looked like miniature skyscrapers, glassy crystalline pinnacles crushing beneath our feet!
When the sun finally reached us, we had a view of a huge red ridge, frozen creeks trickling across the alpine, speckled with lush tundra. The water that flowed below the frozen creek’s surface pulsed like a lava lamp, trapped air bubbling together and flowing slowly beneath the ice. It was such a colorful pass, red iron rocks, green lush tundra with purple flowers, so much more color than the other fully grey granite passes we had encountered.
We finally reached the pass and sat for a snack to look over the vast landscape we had just traversed. Soon Goldie and Workout surprisingly came into view. We exclaimed welcomes and were glad to meet back up since our brief chat the afternoon before. Once snacks were done, we bid farewell and headed down the north side of Pinchot Pass.
The valley was slightly different here than the last, small willows grew creekside, ice waterfalls led to beautiful emerald lakes across rolling planes, all under the watchful eye of the great sheets of grey granite that constructed the canyon walls above. Above grey, green and lush below.
We bombed down the valley chatting on and enjoying the beautiful views. After a long drop we reached the creek bottom and stopped for lunch near Kings River. It was nice to kick up our feet after a long climb and descent. We finally packed up and headed north past fields of purple shooting stars, so far it seems to be the flower of the JMT.
After leaving the river bottom the scene seemed to open up. The green grass field speckled with boulders and lodgepole pines seemed to singularly dominate the landscape. As we climbed the trees thinned, and only sparsely speckled the landscape covered in tundra and a few lakes. The grey granite started to take over again. The padded trail soon changed to chunky rocks and eventually small boulders which we had to dodge. This really started to go to work on our feet as we climbed. Switchback after switchback as we inched up closer to Mather Pass.
When we finally reached the top it seemed like a sigh of relief was in order, but a sigh too early. The downhill switchbacks were scattered with large rocks and we traveled carefully down trying not to roll an ankle, or stub a toe. The Palisade Lakes came into view but they seemed so far away. Yet, we pushed on, after rolling trail took us on a rollercoaster ride and really gave our feet a true beating we finally found ourselves on the edge of Palisade Lake. We put up our tent, cooked dinner, stretched, and crawled our tired yet satisfied bodies into our small snug tent. Another good day on the JMT!
- Hike Stats
- Miles: 19.5 Total:
- JMT Miles (Mile 53.5 – 73)
- GPX Track
- Miles: 19.5 Total:
- Gear: JMT Backpacking Gear List
An imposing granite face over Flower Lake was the first to catch the morning’s light. The sun started peaking through the trees and gave all the leaves a golden glow. Another magical morning in the Sierras! We finished packing up after breakfast and quickly got on the trail knowing we had some climbing to do today!
Hoodies off, we set out, Izzie in the lead pushing strong after resting her foot/ankle in the afternoon before periodically forcing it into the shivering lake. We both kept our stride, even when the wind started whipping as we approached Kearsarge Pass. Down in the lake below the switchbacks we could see the wind and sun’s work on the water’s surface. It whipped and swirled while the sun gleamed on its surface making rapid moving shapes like a murmuration of starlings.
Finally we reached the pass and instantly put hoodies back on, the wind was unforgiving on the west side of the pass and nipped at our heels as we quickly descended, seeking refuge in the trees below. Small patches of ice were surprisingly still present on trail, we carefully navigated around them. Down, down, down, we went until finally reaching the trees, yet the wind still persisted. We could see Kearsarge Lake in the distance, and after a small hillock, the green Bullfrog Lake came into view.
We trekked on and soon found ourselves back to the junction where the JMT meets the trail to Kearsarge Pass. From there the hoodies were peeled and a good climb soon ensued north on the JMT. Not many people talk about the effort it takes to gain the view from a pass. You can’t get it daydreaming at camp, or really experience the feeling watching a video with some epic sound track in the background, it takes work to get there, and work we did. The work was good, and so were the views!
The climb persisted after a short respite on a leisurely plateau, we climbed up above Charlotte Lake, which was set in a beautiful valley that was clearly shaped by a traveling glacier. On the far end of the valley a U shape was left in the granite face, and it was so cool to see its mark still remained!
Climbing still, we entered the final approach plateau to Glenn Pass where all the trees were hooked and bent towards the top of the pass as if to praise it or simply point the way. The way was up! We kept climbing, and after a few false summits we found the jagged lip of the pass and paused for a snack and to soak in the view.
We started to run into people, Ghost a NoBo PCT hiker stopped for some small talk, 2 JMTers from Sacramento looking like they were having the time of their life, and finally at the bottom of the snow patched pass we met a couple who had just got engaged at Rae Lakes! The gal beamed with delight and we chatted on for a bit about their 60 Lakes loop.
After leaving the couple we bombed down towards Rae Lakes. The upper lake was crystal light blue in the middle, green turquoise towards the edge and finally orange at the rim from the vegetation and shallow bank. It looked almost like a human Iris, glinting in the light, and absolutely breathtaking. We soon found a nice spot for lunch and took a cold plunge in the clear waters. Although the wind still lightly blew, the sun warmed our cold skin and we laid out like lizards hoping for warmth.
We packed up and headed around the lake. Grey Jays flashed by in streaks of grey, black, and white. Brook trout swam just feet from the water’s edge and in the distance a quaint cabin stood overlooking all this beauty. I could only imagine what it must be like to live there, even for a brief season.
We started descending moss filled valleys crisscrossed with creeks, sprinkled with flowers and lush meandering meadows took over the plateaus. We descended a long staircase of plateaus from which each had its own lake and accompanying meadows, each lake would deepen in green as its size grew until towards the lower steps of the stair case the lakes were forest green.
On one such stairstep we met a Ranger named Mike and his wife Leanna who were staying in the Ranger Cabin for the summer. It sounded like a dream job, well perhaps not policing the public and making sure they are properly burying their feces, but I guess that’s a small price to pay for living in paradise. We chatted on about fish, fire, browning trees, mountains, all the important things, before finally saying goodbye and heading farther down the valley.
We headed down and at the far end of the valley a large granite south facing wall named Castle Domes could be seen that was clearly formed by a glacier. It looked like a big blob of ice had slowly slid down its face making new wrinkles and curves that still held up to the test of time. We soon found the flora starting to change. Around 9050 feet we found our first aspen trees of the trip! Soon after our first purple lupin, followed by Indian paintbrush, sage, and beautiful little green ferns. Cedars started to appear and soon after silver firs.
We took it all in until finally we reached the suspension bridge giving passage to hikers over Wood Creek. We passed over one at a time (as recommended by the signage). The bridge swayed as we walked, not only up and down, but also side to side, finding a wave pattern in harmony with the rhythm of our stride, it was a pretty cool experience to have in the middle of nowhere!
After crossing the bridge we started pushing up the final stretch of trail before camp. It immediately amped up the elevation gain. This southern facing hill was dominated by Jeffrey Pines, as it was in full sun most of the day, and only broke by small streams running down towards the canyon bottom where more lush loving foliage clung. A large creek rushed down slickrock in the belly of the canyon trailside as we hiked north. The sun began threatening to hide behind the mountains just before we finally reached camp! It was a mashed potato kind of night and we were both thankful to find refuge in the tent on a flat pad beneath the shelter of a birch tree. Man what another great big day!
- Hike Stats
- Miles: 13.7 Total:
- JMT Miles 4 (36.5 – 40.5) + Kearsarge Pass Miles (9.7)
- GPX Track
- Miles: 13.7 Total:
- Gear: JMT Backpacking Gear List
Zippers, feet, and creeks. I started the day by pondering over zippers and how critial they are to backpacking. Tent doors, backpack pouches, puffy jackets, there are just so many things that would be so much harder without them . . . what’s the next invention to take the zipper’s place. I pondered this as I was packing up my sleeping bag and Izzie was boiling up some coffee for breakfast as a part of our morning ritual. We placed a stroopwaffle under our warm mug to make them like freshly baked cookies.
Soon once all the cooking was done, Izzie went to the creek to tend to her foot, and I packed up our damp tent. Pro tip, if you camp near a creek or river, it’s highly likely you’ll have a ton of condensation on your tent and sleeping bag, so be sure to find some time at lunch to unroll them and dry out before you reach camp for the next night (no one likes to crawl into a wet tent).
Back to feet: Izzie suspected she had broken a bone in her foot weeks before on a work trip, and on the descent from Mount Whitney she twisted her ankle agrivating the injury and making both her ankle and foot painfully swollen. She was taking it in her stride, dousing it in the river whenever the opportunity presented itself.
After all was said and done, we were all packed up and left out of camp in good spirits. We were in the shade of the morning and only the westerly ridge was lit up by the morning sun, but our cool trail was still in shade. Izzie stopped abruptly in the trail and a deer appeared quickly bounding away. He hopped like a rabbit as if to say “look how easily I am gracefully bounding away, you couldn’t catch me if you tried!” It was our first big game sighting of the trip!
The flora began to change as we pressed further north, we found fragrant sage, twisted currant, and our first lonely fir standing proud and plump! We finally reached the first climb up towards Bullfrog Lake and eventually Kearsage Pass. We both put our stride into low gear and steadily ascended the manzanita, snow brush, fir, and fern lined trail. Creeks leaped across the landscape and pines stood proud and well fed by the plentiful water here.
We finally popped out above the trees as the golden sun shone on the granite faces above. I started to think about how they always depicted Cleopatra, clad in flowing white dresses and weighed down with gold jewelery. I think of the mornings in the Sierra with white granite faces clad in beautiful golden sunlight. It’s nothing less than magical!
We finally reached Bullfrog Lake, a beautiful blue teal with healthy green algae at its rim. We climbed up and past Kearsarge lake and the cold seemed to intensify as we passed treeline and the blustering wind picked up. We plodded slowly up the chunky granite switchbacks until finally we took the pass!
We popped over the ridge and the wind seemed to subside, we could see hikers speckled across the winding trail below until it disappeared into the pines. We could see a few beautifully clear lakes and hoped to soon be at their shores. Hikers seemed to spring up like weeds, we would pause and chat, seeing day hikers, PCTers, fishermen, mountaineers, weekend loop backpackers, all sorts with their own story to tell. We finally found Maverick Lake and set up out tent for the night.
With Izzie’s foot being a nuisance, we decided to have her guard our gear while I hitched into town, grabbed our resupply, hitched back to the trailhead, and hiked back up to the lake in time for dinner (no easy task when you’re counting on the humanity of others, but I had faith!). With an almost empty pack I bombed down the trail! I would see a cascading waterfall, hear the buzz of a cicada, and finally a glimpse of the road leading to the Onion Valley Trailhead. I was stoked and pressed on briskly!
Indian paintbrush, snowbrush, and short scrub bushes lined the trail as I descended. I was soon at the parking lot, standing at the end with a big smile and a thumb out, hoping for the best in my stylish hawaiian shorts. It was only 10 minutes or so before I was picked up! A kind fellow who turned out to be an ex sheriff who loved the Sierras and jammed to some light Christian rock in the background of our hitch banter. We soon got to Mount Williamson Hotel and I quickly grabbed our resupply of 7 days of food for two and dumped it into my empty pack . . . . needless to say, I was laden down.
I got a ride from one of the shuttle guys who worked at the hotel and was (to my amazement) back to the trailhead at almost 3:00 pm! As soon as I stepped out of Doug’s shiny new Toyota Tacoma, I met Workout and Goldie, a couple trekking for 3.5 months on the PCT. We chatted on and soon figured out they were both biologists and I insisted they stop off for a quick break from the Kearsarge climb at Maverick Lake to meet Izzie and chat about fish and conservation. They led out like a couple of bats out of hell! That’s what happens when you have your trail legs on you!
Switcher after switcher I just mainly tried to hold onto the send train and hoped I wouldn’t fall behind! We were soon at the lake after some aggressive uphill, hanging out, having a snack, while the chat of America’s fish future was discussed. I sat back quiet while the 3 bantered on. Soon they decided to press on and we made dinner, completed our required stretches, and found ourselves back in the tent, hiding from the cold wind and winding down for the night with some warm curry and a cozy sleeping bag. Another great day on the trail!
- Hike Stats
- Miles: 13.7 Total:
- JMT Miles 4 (36.5 – 40.5), Kearsarge Pass Miles 9.7
- GPX Track
- Miles: 13.7 Total:
- Gear: JMT Backpacking Gear List
We woke to birds chirping in the trees as twilight gleamed its first light. We started up the morning ritual, of making breakfast and packing up. The pink sky watched over our labor and as we finished putting away the last piece of gear, the ridgeline to the west lit up in a golden orange lightshow.
We led out from camp and gleefully headed down valley overlooking gurgling meadow streams where cutthroat trout played. The ridgelines towering above were as varied as the faces of the twisted trees we passed trailside.
The Ranger Station soon came into view on the far side of a beautiful green meadow. A creek bubbled and gurgled in its belly and song birds accompanied its tune. The air was delightfully cool and the sun had just started to reach the valley bottom as we passed by. Soon we turned north where the JMT and PCT meet and we rolled with the rising and falling of its hills as we went.
It was interesting to observe the felled trees across the hillside. Thinking about their lifecycles: downed dead trees with branches twisted and broken, thrust from the tree’s body as they fell; to baby trees growing next to their parents, guarded and well fed.
The skies had become overcast and grey as the morning pressed on, yet as we we gained a saddle a window of bluebird sky glimmered some hope in the distance. The landscape was a granite boulder field and the trail was a dirty grey, like ground up granite with a flash of dirt, sprinkled with pinecones and bordered by boulders. As we descended towards Wallace Creek we heard a grouse call, a repeated low wooshing like someone swinging an enormous fan through the air. We finally reached the creek, filtered some water and took a moment to try and clean our dirty socks.
After the creek crossing, we started a long steady climb, and at the top were rewarded with incredible vistas of a jagged ridgeline in the distance. We vowed to look up its name later, as if to get to know it better. We soon found the valley floor and the beautiful crossing of Wright Creek.
We struck out on another long climb, and we watched as trees slowly started to fade out below until finally finding ourselves on Bighorn Plateau. We kept our eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, but we found only expectant marmots waiting for a feed from a careless traveler. Vistas were abound, Mount Whitney to the southeast, Barnard to the East, Mt Williamson and Tyndall to the northeast, the Kern Ridge to the west and Kings Kern Divide to the north. Moments like this are why we started the trail in the first place, absolutely breathtaking!
Coming down from our Bighorn Plateau high, we found Tyndall Creek flowing well and a few hikers sitting nearby enjoying a snack. We joined them, chatting about Forester Pass ahead and where they were from. We were interested to hear the Forester pass was clear of snow, although hard to believe, we would soon find out first hand. We pressed on up out of the creek valley and onto an approach plateau just below the pass. Once again trees began to fade out, and ice covered lakes took their place. We climbed slow and steady up to the pass. We must have already begun to adapt to altitude as this ascent was much easier then Whitney the day before! We found no snow on the trail all the way to the saddle, which was very surprising, indicative of the dry winter this past year.
We found some new friends on top of the pass and chatted on about the low snow, the fires to come, and treks present, past, and future. We soon bid farewill and started down the north side of Forester. There were only a few snow patches to be found and the trail was quick and windy.
We soon passed that magic 10,000 ft altitude and trees immediately sprung up. The valley we were entering was gorgeous, covered in moss, and cut through with gurgling braided streams. It was stark and beautiful, the tall strong granite mountains above fed the streams, like veins of the valley pumping the lifeblood to all the vegetation and animals here.
We continued north, dropping lower and lower into the valley ahead until reaching Golden Bear Creek. We stopped to top off our water before camp and rest our feet. By now some ominous clouds had moved in and the temperature started to drop rapidly. I didn’t suspect rain, but was perplexed by the strange white cloud looming over the peaks blocking out the sun’s warmth, and the distant peal of thunder.
We trekked on and found a gorgeous camp perched just above Golden Bear Creek. The jagged ridgeline lined the sky, beautiful pine trees and granite boulders scattered the landscape. We set up our tent, cooked up our dinner, finished the obligatory pre-dinner stretches before slinking off to our cozy tent in refuge from the cold night that was starting to set in on us. What a magical day.
- Hike Stats
- Miles: 20.1 Total (16.5-36.6)
- GPX Track
- Gear: JMT Backpacking Gear List
11:30 pm and the alarm blasted. The trees were all black now with some stars peeping through as I checked the time, nudged Izzie to start getting ready, and fired up the JetBoil for the much needed coffee to shake off the 3 hour nap we took under the forest at Whitney Portal. We were soon sorted, packs on, taking our first steps on the trail guided by our little bubbles of headlamp light. The town of Independence gleamed behind us to the west in the undoubtedly hot valley below, I was glad we were headed up into the alpine.
Miles went quick to the soundtrack of Lone Pine Creek roaring like a ferocious tiger in the night as we plodded up the canyon. The stars shone high above, blocked out only by the giant stone faces lurking in the dark. The dusty trail slithered through huge foxtail pines, up and around a maze of granite boulders. Sometimes we found millipedes on the trail, or the occasional flash of a mouse all under an amazing blanket of stars.
It was 3pm before we found our first snow patch, and in the dead of night the exhaustion started scratching at the back of our eyes, a stumble here or there shocked us back into alertness for fear of twisting an ankle.
Finally the moon started to rise, and soon behind it the gleam of pink twilight from the rising sun revitalized our steady march. We were soon at the base of the 99 switchbacks and stopped to break out the Jetboil for a round of oatmeal and another instant cup of coffee. We watched the sun rise and stuffed our faces as we looked over the small camp below us, the mirror lake, and the gigantic granite faces coming into light with orange glow.
We were on the move again and as we rose in altitude, so did our heartrates. Even hiking a slow steady pace made you feel your heartbeat in your ears. We slowed, but finally made it to the pass just south of Mount Muir. Peering to the west we were slapped in the face with a sea of granite. It seemed to rise and fall all around us, yet frozen in time. Some great faces looked like a great granite pipe organ, while others looked like a million fingers reaching for heaven.
We trekked on, stopping at the trail junction where the JMT heads west and the Whitney summit trail continues north to drop a pack and consolidate snacks and water. The trail itself was pretty easy, just some boulders here and there to navigate, but the pressure from the altitude felt immense, always trying to hold back your next step, making every inch an effort. It became a game of “not too much”. Not too much speed, not too much water, not too much heavy breathing, not too much food. Felt like making the wrong move would leave you trailside gasping for air. We pressed on, past the Needles, peering down the gaps between to look down on Owens Valley far below. One step at a time, and finally after what seemed like a long 1.9 miles from the junction, we saw the house at the summit.
Relieved we had made it, we plopped down, pulled out our sleeping bags for quick warmth, water to rehydrate from the arid alpine, and snacks to fuel our journey down and north, further along the JMT. We had a quick nap, and finally decided our high altitude life had to be put on pause for the next adventure, and we headed down.
The air was still chilly but the sun warmed you, so we plodded down, back to our packs in hoodies taking in the scenery and admiring the vast granite frozen sea. Little lakelets could be seen from the ridge, and eventually pines down in the lower valleys. We reached our packs, shouldered our belongings and headed north down towards the valley floor.
An oversight we made was not filtering enough water before our Whitney ascent, so now, as we headed down, we began rationing our last liter of water. I had remembered there were creeks below, but every creek bed we came to was dry . . . we plodded on with parched tongues. Soon Guitar Lake came into view and we counted the seconds before we reached its only running stream. We were delighted to see flow, and quickly broke out our bottles for a fill. After the long dry last 3 miles, not to mention the rationing during the miles before, this was a godsend and our stomachs rejoiced.
We meandered over to Guitar Lake, found a nice spot for lunch and had yet another nap, should I be feeling guilty by now? Nah, we had a midnight start after all! We packed up once again and wandered on down the trail until we found a nice group of foxtail pines, singing birds, and a view of the meadow below. Soon with a tent pitched, dinner made, and stretches done, we crawled into our tent for some much needed rest after a very long day.
- Hike Stats
- Miles: 16.5 Total (0-16.5)
- GPX Track
- Gear: JMT Backpacking Gear List
In usual tradition for any Sierra trip, a buddy Mark and I headed out after work on a Friday to drive the 9 hour trek to the trail head where we would try to sleep for a few hours before the alarm sounding signaling the encroaching daybreak was imminent and the start to our Journey up a 14er would begin. The trip to attempt to summit Mount Langley was no different. Tired and exhausted from the drive with a quick pit stop in San Bernardino to pick up Mark’s brother, we pulled up to the trail head to find every parking spot filled, no empty camp in sight.
We searched the area, looking for a suitable camp spot, only to find it took a drive down the cattle road and a short jaunt into the woods among the pines to find something worth calling camp. Exhausted we set up shop, packed our gear away, and were quickly sound asleep in a four man tent under the night sky. Morning came early, too early I thought as my alarm sounded. I hopped up, poked my head out of the tent, and knew it was time to go to work. We packed up the site, got our packs together and drove to the trail head strapped up ready to roll. This would be our 3rd California fourteen for all 3 of us; we smiled like exhausted idiots, knowing this was the price to pay to see the top, and took our first steps onto the trail.
I love being among the pines, the padded trail was lined with them, some dead from a recent forest fire, some dead from lighting strikes, other thriving in the sunlight at 10,000 feet. We trekked on weaving in and out along the trail, open green fields in the distance beyond the pine thicket. There were a lot of backpackers on the trail descending the mountain. We stopped to chat with a couple of them. We planned to take Old Army Pass up to the summit plateau which was the only crux that stood between us and peaking the 14,026 ft Mount Langley. The two fellas we stopped to chat with told us there was a way to circumvent the snow covered pass which would most certainly require crampons and an ice axe. They spoke of a short 60 foot scramble just to the left before the snow drift, we decided to go for it and forego the longer more populated New Army Pass route.
Taking the fork towards Old Army Pass we hit some big switchbacks that really got the heart pumping. We climb up and up exiting in a beautiful open meadow that housed the glacier lakes where we hoped to camp for the night! It was gorgeous and wide open, the pines were more space here given the altitude but the grey rocks were still a beautiful sight to see. We pushed to Lake 5, finding a nice flat area to ditch our gear and take a well needed rest. Marmots and small birds were the only animals we found here, that and the few other trekkers seeking adventure. We looked up at the pass curious if we would be able to reach the summit plateau or if our efforts would be thwarted by an impasse.
After dropping our gear we started ascending the pass, hearts were back to pumping the low oxygenated air through our muscles as we pressed to the crux. I was the first to reach the snow and started to assess the situation. The snow bank left in the shade had a nice 400 foot drop below it, the penalty for a mistake here was certain death, and there had been many who attempted it and didn’t come back. Mark and I found the rock chute and took the scramble, while Mark’s brother Michael (who had the ice axe and crampon) decided to go for it. After the sandy rocky loose chute we reached the summit plateau and began to look for Michael who was nowhere in sight. Fearing the worst we hiked towards the exit of the pass. Just as we did, Michael came into sight and was just sitting, waiting. We regrouped and pushed for the peak.
The push for any 14er is always tough. The oxygen is thin, your body is tired, and every part of you says stop, except your will. We pressed on, up the huge cairn stacks and beyond to the rock scramble that lead us to the snow patch, and eventually the summit. The granite rock plastered the higher altitude landscape, not many creatures or plants could survive here, but it was still gorgeous. From the summit we could see for miles and miles in all directions. The drop off from the peak’s really got everyone’s nerves on edge.
I had only been at 14k a handful of times before this, but for some reason (I guess I was having a good day) the altitude didn’t suffocate me, and I took a nice nap after cheering a celebration brew with my friends post peak. When I woke I looked around to the surrounding area in awe, took pictures like a tourist, and signed the registry with everyone. I put a note in the box for HB; it was her hike to summit after all, even though she couldn’t be there. Said my peace and headed down.
On the way back we decided to take the traditional route down the summit plateau down the west ridge. As I walked down the sandy slopes, loose rocks and dirt would try their best to catch a ride in the bottom of my shoes. I had to stop a few times to clean them out, but nothing would deter me from enjoying the view of the incredible landscape surrounding us. We trekked on and finally rounded the corner to the Old Army Pass. There, standing out in the field between us and our route home were 13 Rams. It was incredible!!! The Alpha male was standing out big bold and strong ready to take on any challenger that dared come too close. We (as passive as possible) made a large circle around them attempting to get to our route down without disturbing the herd. I have never seen so many rams in one place, even in pictures; it was truly a perfect moment on the mountain.
After finding the chute we climbed down back to camp, exhilarated by the days trek. We got back, set everything up and chowed down on some much deserved dinner. What a day! We woke in the morning, had breakfast, snapped pictures and appreciating the landscape, and took our time heading back down to the trail head where we camped again for one more night before the long drive home to Phoenix.
- Weather: Hi 60s, Low in the lower 40s, Overcast/Sunny
- Water: 7 liters (2 days)
- Food: 3 protien bars, 3 Clif Bars, 2 via starbucks instant coffee, 2 Quaker Real Medleys, 2 Mountain House, Quinoa, instant mashed potatoes
- Time: 2 Days (approx 36 hours)
- Distance: 20 Miles round trip
- 58 liter exos osprey backpack
- Big Anges Copper Spur UL2 tent
- Flash REI sleeping pad
- Cosmic Down Kelty Sleeping Bag (rated to 20 deg F)
- Jet Boil – Sol
- Black Diamond trekking poles
- Sawyer squeeze water filter
- Smart wool 195 long sleeve shirt
- Arc’teryx hoody
- Smart wool beanie cap
- Patagonia Pants
- Merrell Mid Moab Hiking Boots
- Darn Tough wool medium weight sox
- Giro Mountain Biking Gloves