Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bootjack 7.15.09

With an extra day off and the family still away I had a full day to devote to climbing. I had hoped to camp the night before so that I could get an early start and pair Bootjack with Highchair. After having to stay later than expected at work on Tuesday I decided that staying home and getting some rest and just doing one of the peaks would be the right move. I let myself get some extra sleep and was out the door before 0900. The weather was beautiful so I had high hopes for the day. I reached the washout on the Icicle Road and unloaded the mountain bike. I knew that I would have to ride the road instead of walking the 5 miles to the BlackJack Trail. I passed plenty of people coming out using mountain bikes as well. I was happy that the dogs managed to keep a good pace and didn't bother any of the people we passed along the way. I passed one couple who's only comment upon seeing me riding with my full pack " you sure are ambitious". It gave me a chuckle for sure. I reached the unsigned Blackjack Trail in 45 minutes and stashed the bike. The trail is well worn but a little brushy in the beginning. The tread is very nice and the grade is more than managable. There are some blowdowns along the way. In one stretch I made the mistake of taking the Beagle off the leash to make it easier for both of us to make it through. You would think by now I would KNOW better. Sure enough he was off like a shot, baying as he went. I know calling him or chasing after him is not worth the effort so I pressed on. I honestly thought I would never see him again. His baying sounded very strange, almost like a dying dogs last chase. I had never heard him sound so strange. I did call for him on each West side switchback to no avail. After about 1500' of climb I gave up and concentrated on the task at hand. I was quite pleased with the time I was making. The trail does climb quite a lot of elevation but it never is very steep. Finally the trail breaks out into a nice ghost forest with a nice meadowy groundcover that was fully in bloom. Once the trail drops into the basin I hung a right and started up the ridge. I had hoped for a bootrack but there was none. Thankfully once reaching the ridge proper there is a good trail to lead the way. From first glance Bootjack seems far away and more imposing than what I expected. But much sooner than I expected I reached the summit area for a short class 2 scramble to the summit. The summit is a very nice seat to gaze at the surrounding peaks. I will add some pictures later but truthfully they didn't come out as well as I had hoped. I did not find a register so I left one, sans a pencil. I had a nice leisurely lunch since I had made the summit a full hour sooner than what I had expected. I could see the route to Highchair and it was farther than what I had expected but looks fairly straightforward. I repacked and was off for the descent. After dropping off the scramble portion I could hear some serious panting coming from just over a rise. It was my wandering Beagle looking as whipped as I have ever seen him. I thankfully had brought nearly 1.5 liters of refreshment for me and was also carrying water for the dogs as well. I hadn't expected to find any water on this route so my pack was heavily weighted with water. I did my best to get the water down the Beagle. With leash firmly in hand we were off for the descent. The trail is made for a quick descent and made it back to my bike in a little more than an hour. If there wasn't any blowdowns I think I could have made it under an hour. It was back on the bike for the long ride out. The Beagle was unable to go too fast so I gave some thought to carrying him as I rode. The combination of my less than skillful riding with a full pack and carrying a Beagle doomed that notion. The Beagle really struggled but he kept moving and finally we made it to the car. It took more than 30 minutes longer for the bike ride portion of the trip. As it turned out it was another wonderful day in the hills. On a curious side note, I had read Randy's report from this week in which they saw a unusual snake, twice. I thought there was the biggest worm of all time stretched across the road only to realize it was actually a snake. I am fairly certain it is the same type that Randy took pictures of. What are the odds?

Approx 18 miles 4400' of climb 7:30 car to car

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