December 22, 2021 § Leave a comment
It rained most of the night, but when I awoke it had abated long enough for us to break camp and grab some breakfast. Though the rain had abated it wasn’t done for the day, and we’d be lucky to see the sun at all on this day. We didn’t really have all that far to go with the pass at maybe 2-2.5 and then another 1.5 down the other side. Remember from an earlier post that we were advised to take a site in the upper Chicago Basin where few, if any, of the Needleton access 14er-seekers will bother to hike up to. With a sense of urgency we broke camp while our water heated, and with no sun to dry anything, packed all our wet gear as it was. Sure it would be heavier, but we didn’t have to go far. With the main gear packed we took in our morning breakfasts and coffee drinks; we took care of our morning business and then we were off for Columbine Pass.« Read the rest of this entry »
December 11, 2021 § Leave a comment
If you recall, we broke two long days into three shorter days, and today was the second of those days, and this day would be nothing but regaining most, if not all of the elevation we lost yesterday. Distance-wise it was a little shorter, but terrain-wise we would hit some big gains in two sets of switchbacks, where I believe each set was 20-30 turns. The feeling was that we would find something between the second and third set where we could pitch our tents, but until we got there, we wouldn’t know. We hadn’t seen anyone we could ask.
The morning was another fine morning where the mountains to our East shielded us from direct sunlight until long after we hit the trail. Our fourth morning, and everything is very routine by now. Before I even leave my shelter, I have dressed, re-stuffed my sleeping bag, deflated the air mattress and returned it to its carry sack, deflated my pillow, and broken down and rolled up my tarp. Then it is time for hot water and a little relaxation while I watch everyone else do their thing. Of course Kevin is already up, as is Jim, and by the time I sit down, everyone is up and moving.« Read the rest of this entry »
December 9, 2021 § Leave a comment
We met a lot of people on this adventure. Way more than in past adventures excepting Banff. The least number we ever saw was in the High Uintas where we met a Ranger, and then a guide with two charges, all on horseback. After that, nothing. This day would not be a high volume people day, but the two characters we did meet (Father/Son) were a real eye opener.
Our second morning was a little different than our first. For one, we weren’t in a hurry to get over two passes as all we had on the agenda for the day was mostly all downhill, or perhaps it is better to say our net elevation gain today would be a loss. About 1000 feet (304.8 meters) loss. No need to hurry for that. We would probably be done by 1 or 2 and then have the rest of the afternoon to relax, and maybe even cleanup a little in Vallecito river/creek. Another difference was our tree cover was greater, so the view of the surrounding mountains was obscured. That wouldn’t last long once we started to hike, but until that began, we were in the shade of mountains we couldn’t really see, and it was a cool night. I had my usual 3 times up for personal business, and my usual sleep issues, but that doesn’t keep me in bed.« Read the rest of this entry »
April 1, 2021 § 1 Comment
The planning of this weekend has somewhat been discussed, as here for example, already, and perhaps there is some humor and purpose to scribing some of what the weekend actually entailed. There was at least one first for any of these “Weekend Warrior” type trips, and perhaps, to some degree, maybe another, though the former is much more notable, than the latter.
I call it a weekend, but really it’s a three day weekend. The average age of the crew, brought down somewhat by the recent addition of a one Dan G… (name protected to protect the innocent), hovers in the very high 50’s if not almost low 60’s, so, looking back (as I am at the moment) to all the weekends that have come before (and there were many), the trend (some would say not a great trend) has been towards less backpacking, and more hiking. That is to say, backpack in, establish a basecamp (I think one word works fine here), consume beers the rest of Friday which could (not always, but has) include a late night hike (but this weekend did not), and then a hike (sometimes challenging, sometimes not) on Saturday, leaving plenty of time to harvest more trapped CO2 in form of downed timber, followed by more beer consumption, and finally a backpack out. On occasion, there has been a late night hike as well, however, the few times that has occurred has been within the “late night hike rich” confines of Dolly Sods in West Virginia.« Read the rest of this entry »
October 29, 2020 § Leave a comment
Ali used his normal a.k.a. as his trail name, The Persian Prince, and I saw no need for yet another alias in my life, so I simply used my cycling nickname, Big Bird, or just Bird. It’s the culture of thru hiking to have an alias. One it gives you a little bit of anonymity, but in another it actually better identifies you. You tell your family you are going to “off the grid” (though that really isn’t the truth anymore), for a long period of time. You tell them where you are going in, where you expect to come out, and more importantly when you expect to come out, and if you are diligent, you sign all the registers along the way, so that should you not come out when you are expected to, then authorities can scan those registers and try and find the last place you checked in.« Read the rest of this entry »
October 21, 2020 § Leave a comment
Baby Harp seals have to be among the cutest most innocent looking creatures on the planet. I know, there are a lot of critters out there whose young are super cute, and that includes human critters as well, though let us be clear, sometimes, there are some real ugly babies. But this isn’t about ugly babies, it is about cute and innocent, and launching into something with the greatest zeal and perhaps over estimation of just where on the fitness scale one actually sits.« Read the rest of this entry »
September 26, 2018 § 1 Comment
Larry and I have been backpacking for close to 30 years now. It is kind of a fog, the dates. It somewhat depends on what year my first Mill Trip was, because although I had met Larry a few times prior to that, it wasn’t until I started coming to The Mill that our friendship began to develop. I am going to say my first Mill trip was probably January 1987, and I must have attended a couple before I heard about the Winter backpacking weekends. Like I said, that was a long time ago, and many trips later, as well as many Mill trips later Larry is one of my go-to friends. As Walt would call him, a pall bearer, though I plan on cremation, but pall bearer it is.
September 26, 2018 § Leave a comment
This installment concerns Mike Barris, who has attended all my trips except the High Uintas. I profiled him two years ago, and something I left out of that narrative was that Mike returned from that trip not feeling well, and then proceeded to get pretty sick with Bronchitis. I think it took a long time to get on the good side of that, and it left Mike wary of further trips.
September 20, 2018 § Leave a comment
This was the fourth week long adventure over the last 6 years that I have cajoled my friends into following me into some kind of wilderness adventure. What qualifies ME to lead adventures like this? One could easily argue “Very little”. From the standpoint of the Grand Canyon, at least there I had been on some of the trails, and was familiar with the conditions that time of year, but when it came to the High Uintas in Utah, Banff in Alberta, and most recently the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon, I hadn’t ever been to any of these places before, and here people were following me into the back-country with nothing but a map and my electronic devices.
September 18, 2018 § 9 Comments
Short post, as it has been a long long time since I have posted anything. I just returned from a week long adventure and I figured I would start my blogging with this story first.
This past Thursday morning, after awaking 3 times in the night (normal for me), where I found the sky cloudless and full of stars, some time around 4:40 in the A.M. frozen precipitation began falling from the sky. To me, it sounded like rain, and by true morning, when I decided to get up again, it was clearly snow and sleet-like hail that had fallen. To be honest, unlike Banff two years ago, this was simply squall after squall with no squall contributing a lot, but the number of squalls began to accumulate.