Monday, October 18, 2010

Old Rag (3291')

Michael is down here this week and yesterday we hiked Old Rag Mountain out in Shenandoah National Park. It's a trail we've done before (and sent pictures from before) but last time was with my cell phone camera, so these came out a lot better. It was very cloudy, gray, and humid, but cooler than it has been. It also rained for most of our hike down, but not hard.

There was a dog hanging out in the parking lot. Really laid back. It's collar said "I live across from the parking lot. I know how to get back. Please don't take me home." So I guess he does that a lot. We named him Rufus. We made the mistake of petting him, because he then tried to follow us out of the parking lot. We went through a closed side gate and closed it behind us so he would stay behind. That slowed him for about two seconds because he ran under a hole in the fence, which he has clearly done a ton of times. He then walked with us or ahead of us along the road for about a mile to the trail head. Dogs are not allowed on the trail because there is about a mile of climbing over rocks, which a dog wouldn't be able to do. Fortunately, Rufus was really smart and stopped by himself at the trail head. He watched us go up, but didn't follow.

Almost two hours later, and after already climbing over some difficult rocks, we heard a sound like jangling keys coming through the woods. All of a sudden Rufus appeared again. He ran right past us, up through the rocks. We stood there in disbelief. A little ways farther, we found Rufus hiding out and taking a break, which you'll see in the pictures. I wonder if his owners know that he climbs mountains during the day.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lake Solitude

Solo hike in Grand Teton National Park to Lake Solitude. Started at the ferry across Jenny lake and followed the Cascade Canyon to Lake Solitude.  Later found out that mom and dad did the same hike years ago.  Met a family from MA and Hiked with them most of the way.

Pictures here:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Mount Elbert (14,440')

August 2010

Wednesday was effectively a prep day for our attempt to hike up Mount Elbert, the 2ndlargest mountain in the continental US and the largest in Colorado (Elevation 14,440 ft). Base camp for the hike is the Lakeview Campground about 20 miles from Leadville, CO. The base sits at 9,500 feet which gave us a chance to acclimatize overnight for our hike. 

Elbert is unique because it is one of the few 14,000+ footers which doesn’t require any technical climbing. The hike was supposed to take about 8 hours and because of the storms, we had to start at sunrise on Thursday. There were no trees or shelter above 10,500 feet, and we needed to be back down below the tree line by the time the storms started. Our realistic goal was to make the summit by 11:30, giving us 2.5 hours to make our way back down to the tree line. 

We started at sunrise when the temperature was just barely above freezing. It warmed up quickly, but the climb was steep and relentless. About 4 hours into the hike, the summit seemed impossibly far away. We were exhausted and our pace was a crawl at best. I was about ready to bail. By this point the ground was covered in snow and the wind had started creating a significant chill. The major frustration was knowing that we were climbing the tallest peak in Colorado, which meant that every impossibly tall summit that I could see was lower than where we knew we needed to go. It was very fortunate that we bumped into a hiker who had started with us and was coming back down. He told us that we were already up to about 13,600 feet, and that we only had another 800 vertical feet to go. 

We reached the summit at 11:06, well within our target range. It was a beautiful 360 degree view with mountains and lakes in all directions and very little in the way of civilization. We weren’t able to hang around too long because of the likely onset of altitude sickness and the need to get down before the storms. The way down started off very easily, but ended up in a mild hail storm early on. We finally found a place to take a lunch break, but by this point the big puffy clouds had started to form on the summit so we never had a chance to slow down much . We made it safely back to our campsite at 1:55 (perfect timing) before any thunderstorms got going. We re-hydrated on water and a few well earned Coors and made an obnoxiously large campfire. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Flattop Mountain (12,361')

We got up early Monday and took a shuttle to the Bear Lake Trailhead. We chose to climb Flattop mountain. It was a challenging, but not overly taxing climb from a base of about 9,300 feet to the summit at about 12,300 feet. The views (as seen in pictures 6-12) were nothing short of spectacular. Unfortunately, this altitude provided to be pretty burdensome to Steve, and he spent the afternoon fighting bouts of altitude sickness in our tent. Adding to the strain was our first encounter with Rocky Mountain thunderstorms which start at almost exactly 2:00 pm every summer day. We were camping in a treeless valley and the frequency of lightning strikes was pretty intense. No problems resulted and the storms subsided quickly.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mount Greylock (3489')

After graduation hiked Greylock (tallest peak in MA). Very hot day. Ran out of water but was able to refill at the top.