Lone Eagle Peak – Indian Peaks Wilderness

A few weeks ago I was up hanging out with my dad since Toni was out of town and he can’t drive due to a car accident he was recently in.  While up visiting him he was telling me about a place he has seen pictures of that he wanted to go backpack in and take some pictures.  After he showed me a picture of this place, I decided I had to go there myself. I probably should have waited until he was better enough to go with me.  But I was too impatient and I’ve been wanting to get out camping or backpacking for a while now .. I was raring to go.

I looked it up online and found a good article about the hike:  Pro Trails – Crater Lake and Mirror Lake … I sent in to the ranger station in Boulder to get my overnight permit, and had my date set for just a couple weeks later.

Brian, Zip, and myself took off Friday after we got off work and got ourselves some dinner.  Zip was so excited to go.  He had been a nervous wreck for a day or two because he saw me packing my bags and was afraid I was going to leave him behind.  When we went to walk out he door the final time we decided to tease him and told him he had to stay home.  He started wining and when we opened the door he said the hell with it and ran to the car.

Even though we could have driven to the trail head the morning of, we decided to break it up a little and stayed the night in Winter Park.  In the morning after having a … well standard continental breakfast, we made our way to the Monarch Lake trail head.  Zip was bouncing around and ready to go.  We put on our packs and made our way up to the ranger station to check in, then up the trail we went.

While hiking along the side of Crater lake, we encountered our first wildlife sighting … a moose out in the lake having a snack.  I realized my first mistake of the trip, I had forgotten my bigger zoom lens.  All I had was my new 12-35mm (24-70 Equiv) and 7-14mm (14-28 Equiv) lenses that I had picked up for our upcoming trip to Italy.  I didn’t have a lens that could really reach the moose.  I tried to get as close as my nerves would allow.  But in the end I really had to crop the photo to get this ..

untitled_140809_021About halfway up the trail, you come across Cascade Falls.  We stopped there and I tried to wait until some clouds came overhead so I could get a good shot.  But while waiting i noticed that my battery light on my camera was blinking (Second mistake of the trip).  We had a family take our family photo of the trip and then headed on our way.

IMG_20140809_120833738 untitled_140809_029We stopped around 1:30 to have a delicious lunch break of tuna and crackers … yay.  Zip tried unsuccessfully to get comfortable right on top of some pointy rocks. The family we had take our picture  came hiking back down and warned us of a cow moose that was in the middle of the trail that wasn’t letting anybody past (which is why they headed back).  When we got up to that point, the moose had made its way on for the day and we never saw it.  The rest of the trip all the wildlife we saw was so many squirrels and chipmunks Zip could barely contain himself.

untitled_140809_045While passing through one of the meadows on the upper part of the trail, I stopped to take some pictures of the wildflowers.  One of them had a bee collecting some nectar and I was about to snap a photo when I noticed a trail runner heading my way.  I stepped back off the trail to let him pass, but as he neared me, rather than staying on the trail, he ran off the trail and stepped right on the bee/flower I was about to take a photo of … so much for that shot!

We reached Mirror Lake right before a heavier rain was about to set in, and I snapped two photos with my camera, not wanting to waste any battery since I wanted to get a couple shots in the morning.  I ended up taking some more photos with my phone, which turned out to be my favorite of the trip, though they are disappointing since the peak isn’t sharp if you look closely at them.

IMG_20140809_144909708_HDRWe set up camp and barely had it set up before the afternoon storm really set in.  We all crashed for a while since the altitude was getting to us.  We woke up later for long enough to cook us up our freeze dried meals, and sterilize some water, then back to the tent and bed we went.  Zip woke us up in the middle of the night since he was freezing and wouldn’t stop shivering.  Brian ended up pulling him in the sleeping bag to keep him warm for the night.  Not to self .. Get zip a sleeping bag.

I woke up in the morning before the sun came up.  But soon found out that my battery was completely dead for my camera. Looks like I’m going to have to be coming back up to get a better picture of this amazing place.  The next time I can bring my dad and be his guide…




Peru-Part 3–The Inca Trail

Early in the morning, before dawn even broke, we departed the Apu Lodge and went on a short, but bumping bus ride to Piskacucho, the official start to our Inca Trail adventures.  Here we met up with our porters, and made sure our packs were all distributed, then we crossed the bridge and headed down the Urubamba canyon.


P1000174_thumb3.jpg P1000171_thumb3.jpgHiking along the Inca trail, you encounter many interesting sights.  It’s not just the ruins, vegetation, or towering mountains in the distance.  It’s the little things that catch your eye, such as local women packing in or out goods on the trail.  There are villages that are still on the trail and they don’t have any road access.  So everything has to be carried in on foot or mule (But Mule’s can only go to a certain point).  The Porters that carry all of your camping gear, food, plus all their own gear and food, are quite the sight themselves.  They are short people (Average height in Peru is 5’ 4”) but carry heavy loads that are packed up taller than themselves.  And to top it off, most of them only have sandals for shoes!  They happily pass you up and you will occasionally pass them while they are taking a break and drinking chicha and chewing  coca leaves (I was chewing those too … as they help with altitude).   We also had the pleasure of stopping at a villiage, that had a small outpost  like grocery store and where you could pay a sole or two to use a restroom (a hole in the ground with shit all over the walls)  I thought this was pretty gross .. but that  was before we encountered other ones on the trail later on.…


Our first glimpse of the ruins on the Inca trail were only two hours into the hike when we came upon a lookout that you could see the garden terraces and settlement of Llaqtapata which sits on the bank of the Cusichaca side river.  After a short break to take some pictures we climbed a short way up the Cusichaca valley to Huayllabamba, where our porters had already set up camp and started cooking us dinner for the night.

The company we used as our guides was quite nice.  Each night, when you would come into camp, they would have the tent all set up with your gear sitting in it.  You could lay in it and relax for a little while since trekking at this altitude can be quite tiresome.  After a bit of a rest, they would come around with something to drink, and a bowl of warm water to wash up in.  After washing up you would make your way into the dining tent where they would bring in a lot of really good food to eat.  This wasn’t the kind of food one would expect on a backpacking trip.  It was excellent food and each night was very different.  We had stews, all sorts of potato’s (Peru is home to thousands of variants of potato), quinoa, ceviche, and different kinds of fruit.  Each night you would want to keep eating more and more of the food until you were stuffed and barely able to haul yourself off to bed. In the mornings they would come around with a wash basin full of warm water, and a cup of tea to warm you up.  You would make your way groggily out of bed and over to tent for another exquisite meal.

The entire length of the Inca trail is made up of cobbled stones and a whole hell of a lot of stairs strung out over 26 miles.  The second day on the trail we made our way way up  the steep-sided Llullucha valley and through subtropical woodlands. Crossing the rim of a small plateau, we found ourselves in the pula, the treeless grasslands of the high Andes.  After a break to catch our breath, and for Spencer to take advantage of a last chance of getting some alcohol from the locals, we headed up to the first pass and the highest part of our trek,  Warmiwañusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).  Our guide tried his hardest to convince us that it looked like a dead woman.    Maybe you can see it … but I guess my imagination is just not that great … or could be because I’m gay and have a hard time visualizing a woman laying down…  From he top of the pass you get spectacular views of both valleys, plus of snowy peaks of Huayanay.  From here we made our way down to the floor of the Pacaymayo valley, where we camped for the night.

P1000314_thumb.jpgP1000421_thumb.jpgThe next morning we picked up on the Inca stairway again and ascended past the small Inca site of Runkuracay which was used as an outpost watching for people invaders down the valley.  As we reached the second pass, the landscape opened onto spectacular new views of the snowy peaks of the Pumasillo range.  We descended to the ruins of Sayacmarca, an intricate labyrinth of houses, plazas, and water channels, all perched on a rocky spur overlooking the Aobamba valley. We continued on and descended into the cloud forest, with it’s abundance of orchids, bromeliads, mosses, and ferns..   This orchid picture is one of my favorites, not for the beauty of the picture, but instead, if you zoom in and look closely you will see an insect hiding in it.  Our next stop of ruins was the mist covered complex of Phuyupatamarca (Cloud-Level Town).  I didn’t have time to stop there since we were running a little slow as the hike was taking a toll on our joints (Did I mention there were a lot of stairs …)   We finally made it down to our final camp by the ruins of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young).

Once we got at camp, our guide let us know that there was an owner of one of the buildings that, for a price, would let us take a shower in his facilities.  It was all hush hush since he apparently wasn’t suppose to be operating any type of business there.  But, we were willing to take the risk, and after what felt like a drug deal,  Brian  and I got our turn.  The showers scared the hell out of me.  There isn’t a normal water heater like what we have in the US.  At this place the water heater was on the shower head itself.  The power was hooked up by a few wires dangling right next to the running water and didn’t have any wire nuts or any other insulation on them.  (Maybe this is why he wasn’t suppose to be operating ….)  The water was very temperamental and I couldn’t get a continuous stream of lukewarm water.  Mostly because I was afraid to touch let alone adjust the water control out of fear of being electrocuted to death.

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After taking a short break at camp a few of us made our way down to check out the Wiñay Wayna ruins.  A few of the members of our group, including the couple from the UK, our youngest member, and a few others stayed behind because they were getting tired or sick.  The altitude has a not so pleasant effect on your body.  While waiting in our tent later we heard a few people vomiting and groaning. That night we had an all out feast with our guides and stayed up a little later chatting about adventures and cultural differences.  A few of the group had a few drinks .. and a few others had a few too many… But I was exhausted, so Brian and I headed to bed.  And then things went downhill for me  … more to be come.

Backpacking the West Rim Trail in Zion N.P

I had 8 days of Vacation time built up so I decided I should start taking some of it before I lose it at the end of the year (New GEO company policy).  I took off three days not knowing where I was going to go.  I knew I would figure something out.  It turns out my mom was in the same boat and had a big stretch  coming up so we decided to go somewhere together.

At first I was planning on heading up to Yellowstone NP and the Grand Tetons since I haven’t spent much time up there and haven’t done any real hiking around.  But after looking at the weather and how cold it was going to get we looked south.  High of 87 and low of 50 in Zion NP  … GREAT!! So very early Friday morning we headed south.

We got to Zion around Noon after stopping to visit with Grandma in Salem.  It was HOT as Hell there!! (Turned out to be 97 that day).  Ouch!  We got a campsite and went and got our permit to do the West Rim hike and got a campsite up on the rim.  We asked about permits for the subway but of course there weren’t any available.  After that we were going to go for a hike but it was too damn hot out and I was feeling sick from the heat .. so what did we do … went and got some food and beer Smile

Later that evening once there was some shade and it started to cool down we did go hike up to the upper emerald pools.  I was thinking I hadn’t been there before .. but alas I had.

Early Saturday morning we headed up to the Lava Point trailhead (We took a shuttle from Zion Adventure Company)  We started on the trail around 8 AM.  Well going downhill most the way and only having to hike 7 or so miles .. it didn’t take us long to get to camp.  That was even taking our time to take pictures.  I think we arrived camp around noon that day.  Only 7 or 8 hours to kill till bed time (when the sun goes down).  What to do to entertain ourselves?  Wait … I broke my kindle last trip so didn’t bring it, forgot to bring a book or magazine, and those cards I had in my pack … they were thrown out since I thought Mom would have brought some (She didn’t).  I guess all there is to do is take a 3 hour nap.

I woke up from my long nap drenched in sweat.  Yuk.  We decided to hike around the rim and see if we could find the springs and fill up on water.  While we didn’t get any water we did get to see some pretty damn amazing views.


Up along the rim of Zion Canyon you get a whole new perspective on the park.  The land looks surreal and alien like.  The tall sloping sandstone cliffs, domes, and cones.  Then there are the plateaus.  From the ground it looks like there are just the sandstone cliffs with nothing on top of them.  But from the top you can see they have a forest of their own.  It makes you want to get on top of them and explore them.  Also, it makes you wonder if there are any wildlife on top.  If there are any squirrels up there.

Sunday morning we got up and headed out early.  The trail takes you down to Boy Scout lookout (the lookout on the way up Angels Landing) then down to the Grotto’s trailhead.  We made it down just after noon on Sunday and headed straight for the back country office.  We wanted a second chance of getting permits to the Subway .. low and behold they actually had some left.  Looks like we were going to stay in Zion for another night …

Snowmass Lake / Snowmass Mountain

Last week I took off some time to head to Aspen.  I wanted to hike to Conundrum Hot Springs  Snowmass Lake and summit Snowmass Mountain I arrived in Aspen on Tuesday right after sunset.  I had taken the back way up through Leadville and over Independence Pass which I would recommend to anyone.

My Mom and Brother arrived Wednesday night pretty late.  After taking some more pictures of the Maroon Bells on Thursday Morning we headed to the Conundrum Hot Springs trailhead.  It turns out that dogs (Zip) are not allowed in the upper valley by Conundrum Hot Springs and the campground.  So, we headed down to the Ranger station for the Aspen area to get some maps and figure out where to go next (They had previously told me over the phone that the only restrictions for dogs were you had to have them on a leash …. GRRR)

We decided on heading to Snowmass Lake and then summit Snowmass Mountain the second day.  So we headed to the Maroon – Snowmass trailhead up above Snowmass Village.  After getting our packs ready and getting Zip all geared up we headed out for the lake.


The trail along the way was long (9 Miles) but sure was beautiful.  We passed quite a few horse riders and a few hikers but didn’t run into any large animals.   It was sort of disappointing to not see any Deer, Elk, or anything else.  We crossed over a big log jam and then headed up through some deep woods and after passing a few waterfalls we finally reached camp.

The views at the lake were stunning with the cliffs jutting out of the lake at the far end and some amazing peaks in the rear.  We set up camp and hung out until the mosquitos forced us to go in our tents.


Friday Morning we woke up just before sunlight to try and get some decent pictures of the lake and peaks.  After grabbing some breakfast we made our way to the summit of Snowmass Mountain.  This turned out to be quite the damn hike.  The summit raises 3,000+ feet from the lake in under Two Miles.  So we were pretty much hiking straight up the mountain .. no switchbacks, no breaks.  Zip didn’t quite make it to the top.  He freaked out when the boulders got bigger than cars and the cracks between them you couldn’t see the bottom.  I had to push him up on a ledge then when I got up there with him he decided to run down where I had just pushed him up and kept wanting to go down.  So, I had to tie him up to a boulder and listen to him yelp as we left him for the summit.

After reaching the summit at last (Probably the hardest time I have had summiting a peak .. I was wore out) we headed back down to rescue my dog get back to camp.  We had tried to take a different route down but after making it part the way across a boulder field with most the boulders the sizes of cars … we decided to head back down the standard route.

That night and the next morning Zip was pretty much beat and dead to the world.  When I would try to get him to come out and be social he wouldn’t want to come out of the tent or get up.  When I would get him to get up he would sneak back to the tent and onto my sleeping bag as soon as I wasn’t paying attention.  I ended up feeling sorry for him and carrying his stuff back out for him.


After getting back to the trailhead we found out that there had been a couple bear incidents over by where I had hiked back on Wednesday to take my pictures of Maroon Bells.  Two hikers were bit through their tents though there were no fatalities and both should be able to recover fine.







Camping @ Maroon Bells

Last night I drove from Boulder up to aspen after a mostly full day of work.  I ended up going the back route that takes you up to Leadville and on some smaller back roads and drops you down into Aspen.  I beelined straight for the Maroon Bells campground.  I ended up getting the last campsite available.  Thank Goodness …. I didn’t want to spend all night searching for a place to sleep.

I woke up at 4 AM to start hiking around and finding a suitable place to take some sunrise pictures of the Maroon Bells.  I settled on the north edge of Crater Lake.  I didn’t pay enough attention and don’t quite like the distracting foreground on my shots.  I need to wake up and look at my screen a little more when setting up shots.  Oh well .. ya live and learn.

Here is my bad attempt at HDR.  Maybe when I get home I’ll give it more time.  I don’t like the unrealistic look to it.


After hanging out there for a while I made my way back down to Maroon lake and wandered around there taking a few pictures.

Now I’m sitting at the Ink Coffee shop in Aspen letting my camera batteries recharge before I head into the wilderness tomorrow.


Backpacking to Chicago Basin with the Family

This past weekend I made the trip up to Chicago Basin again, only this time I did it with more of the family (7 of us total).

Thursday night I stayed at Orvis hot springs with my Brother, Mom, and step father.  It was a great way to relax and unwind after quite the past few weeks of stressful work packed on top of a 6 hour drive down to Ouray.  I would recommend the place to anyone (At least anyone that doesn’t mind a little nudity since it is a clothing optional resort).  I did wear clothes as it would probably be a little strange being naked around family.

Friday we met up with Mandy and Andrea in Ouray and picked up a few last minute supplies at a local store.  Then we went and checked out Ouray’s Box Cañon Falls where they do the ice climbing in the winter.  It’s pretty amazing watching the creek rage through that canyon.  After that short hike we headed over to Silverton and met the rest of the family.   After having lunch at the local Pickle Barrel, we gathered up our packs and 7 of us boarded the train headed for the Needleton train stop.  My Grandma, Sister, and two Nieces boarded another train a half an hour later and headed for Durango to stay the night.

That day we hiked most of the way up to Chicago basin but didn’t quite reach it.  Instead we stayed at a cool campsite that overlooked some thundering waterfalls.  Saturday we backpacked the rest of the way up to Chicago Basin.  That day we explored around the basin and took a look at some of the falls and mines, and got acquainted with the goats.  This year the goats seem to be less afraid of people and more addicted to urine.  Pretty unfortunate.  They almost act like crack addicts do.  They get all fidgety when you are around and are super paranoid, yet they will do about anything to just get a lick of those rocks.

Sunday Morning Spencer and I headed out for our attempts at summiting 14ers.  The first one we headed for was Mt. Eolus.  After hiking up to Twin Lakes we reached the base of some pretty big snowfields.  We watched as a group of hikers tried to make it through the snow and it seemed to take them forever just to gain a few feet since they were wading and post holing through the snow.  After seeing their struggle we decided to take a route to the right that was still in the shade and the snow was hard.  We strapped on our new crampons and made our way up the steep slope.  Trying to kick step into the snow I slid a few times since it was so steep, luckily I was able to stop myself with my ice axe.  Then I figured out if I side stepped up the hill my crampons held much better.

IMG_1069After reaching the top of the snowfield it was time to cross the catwalk which wasn’t too wide but both sides of it had a pretty extreme drop off on both sides.  If you look closely at this photo you can see a group of people crossing the catwalk to gain the upper part of Mt Eolus.

After this it was a fairly easy climb to the top of Mt Eolus where we enjoyed the views while hanging out with a few other climbers and one fat marmot.  After that we headed down and did a short hike to the summit of North Eolus.

Then it was time for the fun slide down the snowfields we had climbed earlier.  The slope was so steep it made it very difficult to control how fast I was going or where I was going.  But luckily I made it down with only a major case of frozen ass.  It took us hours to get up and only a half an hour or so to get back down to twin lakes.

After making it down to twin lakes it turns out we had perfect timing and met the rest of our group there who was just doing that as a hike.  We sat down and had lunch and chatted for a while before Spencer, Andrea, and I headed up for our attempt of Sunlight Peak.  Only to be turned back less than 1/4 of the way up by a nasty storm.

After a nap and hanging out at camp, we heard a helicopter fly up the canyon.  We all rushed out into the field to see what was going on.  The helicopter circled around the area for nearly 15 minutes trying to find whatever it was looking for and then finally touched down not far from our camp.  We all made way to see what was going on.

After finding the helicopter we learned that a 17 year old boy had fallen from a cliff and had been there for several hours since the ranger’s walkie talkie was out of batteries.  Luckily they had eventually found someone with a Sat Phone that was able to call for help.  Unfortunately the boy had to sit in pain for over 4 hours before the helicopter was actually able to reach him.  With the help of many of the hikers up in the basin they were able to get the boy off of the hill and down into the helicopter and off to the hospital.  I can’t seem to get those disturbing images out of my mind these days.  I just hope he will be able to make a full recovery from his many injuries.  Here is a link to the news story that the Durango Herald ran about the accident

The next day we made our way out of the back country and back into civilization.  I arrived in Denver with my nephew just in time to watch the fireworks light up the skies of Denver.  I made it home after picking up Zip just after midnight.  Boy am I ever dragging ass today at work…..

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Snowshoeing to the 10th Mountain Division Hut

This past weekend I finally did it and went on my first Hut trip.  I was looking on their website 3 or so weeks ago and saw they had 2 spots available for a Saturday night.  So, I jumped on the opportunity and booked them.  It took me a while to find someone to go with me, but I finally got my friend Doug to come with me, we just had to wait for him to finish with work on Saturday.

We ended up leaving the trailhead around 1:30 that day setting off on our snowshoes.  I use the MSR Evo snowshoes and they are amazing .. especially on snow that has been packed down a little like the trail we were on.  They don’t really affect how you walk so they are simple to get use to.  It took us about 4 hours to get to the “Hut” … More like nice large cabin.  Since we had gotten a late start the cabin was already really warm, full of people, and had snow melted for the water supply.


We settled in and found us some beds up in one of the three different sleeping quarters.  We ended up sharing the room with an friendly older couple.  The Cabin wasn’t full since a few of the people that had booked it weren’t able to make it.  Which turned out to be good for me since the beds aren’t quite big enough to fit my 6’4” frame.  I ended up sleeping at a diagonal across two of the mattresses.

The cabin’s are fully stocked and come with most everything you would need.  About all you really have to bring along is a sleeping bag, extra clothes, flashlight, and food.  They have all the pots, pans, dishes, spices, games, books, and other things that are handy.  They have wood burning stoves to heat the place, propane stoves to cook on, and this one had solar panels that powered the lights at night.

The hike out the next day was amazing.  Being the hike out it mostly downhill so far easier and allowed us to enjoy it a lot more.  The views were plentiful and beautiful.  It was a little windy but as long as you have a good wind jacket it doesn’t bother you much.  It even got warm enough that I was just wearing my short sleeve shirt down the second half of it.  Doug even had his shirt off for half of it.  Quite the nice warm weather to top off a great trip.

All in all my GPS shows it was 6.2 miles each way with 1,300 feet of elevation gain.  It wasn’t an easy trip but wasn’t difficult.  Just about Moderate as the books all say.

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10th Mtn Division Hut

Windom Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness Area

Over the 4th of July this weekend I went on a backpacking trip with my mom to the San Juan Mountains down by Silverton, CO.  I’ve been wanting to do this trip for quite some time now and since she ad some days off work, and I had just finished my last day working at my old job, we decided we should go give it a try.

The trip consisted of riding the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railwayup into the Weminuche Wilderness.  They drop you off in the middle of the wilderness area where Needleton Creek flows into the Animas River.  From there you pack up 6 miles with an elevation gain of 2,800 feet into Chicago Basin.  From there we set up our base camp for the next few days.

When we awoke in the morning we started heading up to hike Windom Peak.  Upon setting out at 6 AM to summit our first 14er (14,000 foot peak) we came across probably close to 100 mountain goats.  Most of them were hanging around in people’s camps.  They sure were curious buggers.  According to the forest service, and I witnessed it myself, they are addicted to urine (I know .. gross huh).  I guess they have become addicted to the salt in our urine.  Since this is the case the forest service asks you to make sure to pee on rocks for reasons that would become apparent to me later on.

We reached the Twin Lakes area where you can split up and go to one of the three 14,000 foot peaks right there in the basin.  Due to it being less technical and less exposure than the other two we chose to summit Windom Peak (14,982’).  The other two had some pretty damn sketchy places on them and since mom is afraid of heights (Though she did damn good on what we did) we chose not to combine Sunlight or Eolus in our trip.

From there we headed up the standard route to Windom Peak.  On the way up we didn’t really pass anyone.  Though at the top we did have a young kid come right up behind us.  He had previously hiked Sunlight and had far more energy than either of us had.  We sat at the Peak and snapped some photos then headed down off the mountain.  All in all it took us around 9 hours round trip.  Though we weren’t by any means rushing ourselves.

The next morning we slept in till around 9 or 10 AM.  After getting up and getting our stuff sorted out a herd of the mountain goats decided to pay us a visit.  It turns out that the head of the pack was hoarding the rock I had peed on earlier that morning.  Every time another goat would get near it would chase it off.  After it got it’s fill of all my salt they became curious of what I was doing.  I was down by the creek filling our camelbacks when I looked over my shoulder and one of them was creeping up on me with it’s ever watchful eyes.  I stood up and it continued to inch closer until it was probably 5 feet from me.  Then after a stare down of a couple minutes it decided to head back up to where the rest of the herd was.  I’m not sure if it was just curious what I was doing, threatened by me being there, or if it was just waiting for me to pee so it could get some more!

That day we decided to check out some of the mines in the area and just generally explore the area.  We headed up the trail that goes up over Columbine Pass.  We passed several camps, herds of goats, and a couple hikers.  We also passed one major camp that looked like it was a big base camp for workers on the trail.  I bet they had most of their stuff hauled in via helicopter since they were up by treeline and they had several big boxes that wouldn’t be easily hauled any other way.  We then came across some really cool mines but didn’t venture into any of them.  I’m sure they are very unstable these days.  We also had one goat with a radio collar that stalked us down the trail a half a mile or so.

The next day (the 4th of July) we got up early, packed our camp up, and made the hike back down to the railway.  The train picked us and 6 other backpackers up around 11:30 AM.  After getting back into town on that beautiful ride, we went and grabbed a beer and burger while watching all the interesting folk striding through town.

Quite the trip overall and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in a couple day outing to bag a 14er or three!

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Backpacking with the family and my clumsy self.


I went with my family (Mom, Spencer, Andrea, Chase, and Richard) on a trip to Canyonlands to do the backpacking trip I went on three weeks previous.  All 6 of us were able to load up in to Spencer’s Jeep Commander and just throw all of our packs on top of the Jeep.  Thank goodness for huge SUV’s.  We stayed the night in Moab then got up at a decent time Friday morning and drove out to Canyonlands to pick up our permits and get on our way.

You usually have to get a hold of the backcountry office of Canyonlands weeks or months prior to your trip to make sure you can get one of the back country sites reserved.  We applied 3 weeks in advance and I didn’t get any of my first choices.  But I do have to say, every one of the sites I’ve came across are amazing and each have a killer view.  So we got to the visitor center around 9 AM, got the whole spill about back country etiquette (where to walk and not to walk, having  to carry out our own TP, not to touch any artifacts, etc) and obtained our permits.  Off to Squaw Flats campground B we went to start our trip.

I made it a whole 2 1/2 hours into the trip before I had my clumsy moment.  I was trying to take a picture of the family by propping up my camera on a cliff, when, someone started talking to me and I got distracted.   Well, I lost my balance with my 40 lb pack on my back and went tumbling down the rocks.  I ended up hitting my head a little and sprained my ankle, though a minor sprain.  Luckily it wasn’t too far to camp and I was able to take off my boots, wrap my ankle, and elevate it for a while.  I ended up going with everyone later that evening in search of water.  We ended up hiking around 2 miles before we reached enough water to filter through.  Then we made our way back to camp and I stayed up that night until a late 9 PM (That’s pretty late for backpacking).

The next morning we packed up and hiked over to our next campground up in Chesler Park.  We took a look at the cowboy graffiti which had sayings like “Negro Bill Never Worked and Never Will” and nicknames like Silver Dick scribed into the rock with charcoal.  There was even a cartoon character of one of the cowboys.  We set up camp just beyond the cowboy graffiti and ate some lunch before setting off on our day hike.  For our day hike we packed up our water filters, containers, and some snacks and headed up to Druid Arch.  This has to be one of my favorite places in Canyonlands and is why I drug my family down there.  The view from the base of Druid arch is just amazing.  We made it up there a little after 1 PM and relaxed up there for a bit before heading back down.  We stopped off at the same water source we went to the day before and filled up on all the water we could fit.

Back at camp I relaxed for a couple hours and even fell asleep drooling and snoring.  I woke back up and hung out with the family and had my yummy chili and mac frozen dinner (Everything tastes good when your backpacking… well, almost everything).  Then I retired back to my tent and read one of my books where I had tore a couple chapters out of.  That night I laid in my tent listening to my brother and his son having a war of farts.  I’m glad I was able to stay away from their battlefield.

The next morning we packed up our stuff and made the 8 mile trip back to the Jeep through some amazing and beautiful country.  We even stopped at the crack where my previous trip had had an incident of one of our members falling in the crack and getting stuck.  Chase crawled down in the crack and fetched himself a lost Nalgene bottle.  After back to the jeep and changed in some fresh clothes, we headed out to the needles outpost and grabbed us a 6 pack of Windermere Hefewiezen.  Then a stop in Moab for Pizza at Zax.  MMMMmmmmm.

What a great trip and all.  Was really fun to go on one with the family for once.  And I sure am glad the sprain was minor and was able to still hike it all.


Canyonlands Trip Part 3

I have been very bad and have neglected posting my third portion of my Canyonlands trip.  I am forced to do so now so I can post my one that I went with my family 😉

So after my trip into Chesler park with the Arizona Backpacking club, three of us continued on to our final portion of our trip, Upper Salt Creek.

Bloody Basin road was closed due to too much mud and all around nasty conditions, so, we had to alter our plans.  We were supposed to start at one end of Upper Salt Creek and hike to the other end of it,  but since we could no longer do a through hike to a vehcile at the other end, we had to hike in as far as we could and then come back out.  We changed our campsites around and now looked like instead of averaging 6-8 miles a day we would be averaging around 12 miles a day.  The first night we slept in the at large camping portion which is where you can camp anywhere you like just as long as you practice the leave no trace rule.  We chose a killer spot under a tree that was dwarfed by the towering cliffs and a really cool unnamed arch.  We hiked up that day to take a look at Angel Arch which is another extremely cool arch, but as with most everything on this trip the timing was wrong and the lighting was horrible.

The second day we headed out to our camp which turned out to be as far as we would go on this trip.  We did hike a half a mile or so and checked out some really cool ruins and petroglyphs.  We camped beneath another spectacular view.  I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t a single campsite in Canyonlands National park that doesn’t have exquisite views.  That night we had to lock our food in bear canisters provided by the park service.  I wouldn’t think the bears would be out in the desert like this.  But we did come across some bear scat so it does look like they are in fact out there.

The Third night we spent the night at a jeep campground (Peekaboo) and I crawled into my tent cold and a bit wet.  That was the first and only night I really got cold.  I couldn’t get my feet to warm up and woke up to my boots frozen.  The next morning we got up on the trail pretty early and took a small side trip to Paul Bunyan’s Potty.  A interesting horizontal type arch.  Then made our way back to the vehicles where I’d find my jeep battery drained.  After getting a jump from a nice fellow I headed out to the needles outpost for a diet coke and a nice hot shower before making my way home.