Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grindstone 7.7.10

Well this one didn't go as planned but I made the best of it. I managed to get out of bed at 4am hoping to beat the expected high heat. It took me a bit longer than expected to reach the washout on the Icicle Creek Road due to many of my stops involving stores that were yet to open. Thankfully it was cool as I geared up. I made it about a .25 mile before realizing that I had left my trekking pole in the car. I felt it would be useful higher up so I turned around to get it. As I made it back to the car a truck with two dogs in it was just pulling in. In an effort to unlock the car I dropped the leash. The shepard decided to say high by jumping up on the side of the bed of the truck making some deep scratches. I wasted some time giving the unhappy driver my personal information so that I can fix it. Now after getting up early with not nearly enough sleep was a bit more than I could handle. Thankfully I was able to channel my immense displeasure for my dog into pounding out the mileage to the Chattter Creek Trailhead somewhat faster. I reached the trail and began my way up. The first portion meanders a little before crossing Chatter Creek and then the work begins. This steepness arrived with full sunlight and much warmer temperatures. As is the case the first warm hike of the year takes it's toll on me. I pushed on thankfully reaching the cool shady area of the recrossing of Chatter Creek. I was pleased that the water was lower than other trips making it much easier to get all three of us across. After the creek crossing there is some more climbing before the grade eases off when reaching the wonderful basin at around 5100'. This is where my fix job on the dogs pack came apart making it useless to me. Since I had no room to stow anything else in my pack and the idea of throwing it over my pack didn't appeal to me I wasn't certain what my next move would be. I found a nice sheltered spot to drop pack and weigh my options. I decided it would be best to stash most of my gear and go light with just what I needed to bivy. It amazed me after off loading a few pounds how much better my legs felt. In short order I was at the basin before the trail makes it's final push to the pass. Here the snow started and was mostly continuous to the summit. I had reports of staying on the ridge until 7400' but that didn't look appealing because of the massive cornice that overhung that route. I could see someone had kicked steps directly underneath it and skirted it's side. I am sure the condition might have been better when this was done but I don't think I would try that no matter what the circumstances were. I put on crampons and kicked steps the short steep portion to reach the ridge at 7000'. Here I had to try to find a way down the other side. I removed my crampons and was able to find some dirt and trees that gave my some security to reach the more mellow slopes below. Once again on snow I had to traverse some ways before I could make the last push to the summit. I was thankful that this portion was under the cover of snow because I am sure that this traverse is mostly loose rock and would be very tedious. With the worst past I now had to try to determine which of the many summits was the true summit. I remembered some pictures from a previous trip that looked like the way so I followed. I was able to see some footprints coming down of the ridge from the 7400' level and I made my way towards them hoping they might have an idea of the best route. When I intersected the track I surprised to find that it was laid my mountain goat. I followed until I broke out on the summit ridge where I traversed to the small saddle and then switchbacked to the summit. The views were tremedous as I sat among the hordes of ladybugs. I thumbed through the register which was placed in 1994 and saw many familiar names. I was shocked to see so many entries, I wouldn't have thought it would see so many visitors. I had the honor of being the first entry for this year, although I thought there were signs of skiers up on the higher slopes.

Some of the many pictures I took. It seems that none really came out well

I debated on what to do next. I saw a gap on the North tending ridge that leads to Cape Horn which was the next stop on my itinerary. There was small pass with easy slopes on the West and it appeared mellow on the East as well. I gave much thought of going through the gap and traversing to Lake Edna. In the end I decided that it would be best to head back to my stowed belongings. I chose a more direct descent of a nice snow filled gully. The beagle found something to investigate and lingered and I was able to shoot some interesting pictures of his descent.

Once back on my uptrack I followed in footprints until just before I reached the way I had come down. Here I angled a little further East and reached bare dirt that lead me easily to the ridge. I made quick work back to my makeshift camp. Once back I realized I still had plenty of time to make it out since I had only 2 hours to get back to the car. I debated while making dinner and sometime after until finally deciding to stay the night. I had a great night sleep and finally got out of the sack around 8:30 and made some coffee and hit the road. When I reached the car there were plenty of official vehicles so I inquired on what the issue was. I had a tough time to get anyone to acknowledge me. Finally one man told me that someone possibly needed help on Jack Ridge. I know that they were trying to formulate a plan but since it was apparent that I had been on more than a day hike I would have thought they might be at least interested on where I had come from. Granted I don't know all the particulars but if I had seen something it could have proved valuable to their efforts. All in all it was another satisfying trip.

Approx 14 miles 5500' of climb 27 hours car to car

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