Monday, May 28, 2007

Hardscrabble Lakes, Gold Pass 5.28.07

Since I had a big day planned another early start was in the cards. I picked up Coasty by 0500 and soon were making our way down the Middle Fork Road. I was armed with some very recent trip reports and spurred on by the impending gate closure at Dingford Creek I wanted a summit of Big Snow. I was very pleased by our arrival time near the end of the Middle Fork Road. This was about the only thing I was pleased about for the next hour. I quickly realized that one tire was losing air so I quickly changed the tire with the temporary spare. How was I going to drive the 26miles of crappy road to make it out? Well nothing we could do about it now, I was very thankful it was a holiday weekend increasing the chances of a helping hand if needed. The next problem was getting packed I seemed to have a much harder than normal time with that. The third nail was the weather it was a persistent drizzle making the brush approach even less fun. The final straw was the pack grabbing brush that we were forced to bash our way through. All these things were unpleasant but they couldn't rival how unpleasant my demeanor was. Without nearly enough sleep I had a bit of trouble keeping a smile on my face. After we broke out of the brush I was thankful that most of the first boulder field was melted out. At about 4000ft we hit new snow as well as more consolidated snow. I managed to get us to Lower Hardscrabble in around 2 hours. We made our way along the left side of the lake and then climbed to the Upper Hardscrabble. We had short snack and then set out to find the gully to reach Gold Pass. We dropped pack at around 5000ft and quickly climbed the gully to reach the 5800ft pass. I had hoped to have some views but instead our broken sun changed to visibility of less than 100ft. Since we both had obligations on the home front we were very near our turnaround time. I had to err on the side of caution because I knew the road out would take much longer with my gimpy tire situation. After some debate we plunge stepped/slow motion glissaded back to our packs and had lunch. The way out went much quicker than I expected. I was somewhat worried about the rotten snow conditions and route finding between the Lower lake and the car. I was pleased to keep us on trail nearly the whole way out missing the worst of the bad snow. This trail is not for everyone I think it would be easier with no snow or more snow but not this in between period. We managed to make it all the way out with only short periods of worry. I am again disappointed not to achieve the day's goal but I was much more disappointed with the lack of views from the ridge. This is one of the most scenic vantage points It was a shame not to see more.

Approx 8 miles 3200ft of climb 7 hours car to car

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