Trip Report (Part 1)
Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:02 PM
Iím back and have finally cleaned the gear and stowed it away until next time. Iíve also been busy going through my photos and found a few that a pretty good by ďmyĒ standards. Pictures will come later. First my thoughts on part 1 of the trip.
Moraine Park to Longís Peak and back.
The purpose of this yearís trip was to get my sonís wife to the summit of Longís Peak. She is a paramedic and really wanted to make the climb to earn bragging rights at her station.
Having just flown in from Florida we spent the first night at Moraine Park so sort out gear and just enjoy the Park. I had hoped to get a sunset photo the first night but we were met with dark skies and a heavy downpour so that was out. Our dinner was filled with visits from little creatures. The heavy rains forced us into the tents early but not before we caught sight of the bruin that was supposed to be visiting the campground. Let me personally tell you she was definitely on tour that night.. I didnít sleep much the first night---I just lay in the tent and listened to the peaceful sound of the rain drumming on the fly. The sound of rain is one of my favorite thing at night.
Daybreak (for me was 4 a.m. (which was to be my wake-up time for the entire trip). I was up before everyone else and on my way to Beirstadt Lake for a sunrise photo. You guys should know that nothing is stirring in the park at that hour. It is a bit odd to see nothing moving anywhere, but the pre-dawn hour is quite peaceful. My climb to the lake was by headlamp and the only sounds were my feet on the trail and my labored breathing. When I arrived at the lake the only other creatures were a number of ducks who were busy splashing around the shore line. I set up and waited for the sunrise----it really never came. (another pattern for the up coming week). I will note that standing by the lake, and listening to the pre-dawn sounds was delightful.. In the dark your ears take over and you hear so much more than during the rest of the day.
Our first night in the backcountry was to end with a stay at Goblinsí Forest and since the walk is just a tad over a mile we spent most of the day getting permits, and letting my son do some fishing in an around Moraine Park. I should start this part of the report with a comment about my new pack. Last year my pack caused some beating to my kidneys and so I did some research and purchased a Gregory Triconi. This is a GREAT pack. It rides really well, packs nicely and is by far the most comfortable pack Iíve ever carried. The suspension is a new style that allows the pack to move with you and shift with your hip movement. It hold 3800 cu but allowed me to put a small bear vault, my tent, ground pad, cooking gear and clothes all inside the pack and did it with ease. The night at the Forest was sort of a shakedown evening. My son had a new tent and I had a new stove to replace the one that died last year. Also, Marcy, (my sonís wife) while on her second backpacking trip, was still new to the task so this was a safe practice night.
Goblins Forest is a beautiful site. It sits to the right of the trail, across a log bridge and then into the forests. There are several sites but they are nicely separated so that you donít even see the ďneighborsĒ. Additionally there was a beautiful patch of wildflowers at the stream where you draw water. I spent some time trying to get some photos before the rains descended on our camp. We finally crawled out to fix dinner after 2-3 hours of downpour. I never did see any Goblins, but I did have an owl hooting in a nearby tree. The site also features amore than adequate privy---Iím sure John would approve. We went to sleep once again listening to the sound of rain on the tents, but who caresóI was dry, warm and best of all, in the Park once again.
The next day was the trek to Boulderfield. There is a beautiful cascade just before you hit the warning signs about lightening and weather, but I donít think anyone ever reads these things. I had to stop for photos of the cascade, especially since the day was overcast and the cascades were in the shade. Just after the bridge is one of my favorite parks of the park. You begin walking through a pine forest made of most small (6 feet) trees. They are packed tight to the sides of the trail and are a beautiful lush green. The entire area is laden with an overpowering pine scent. This part of the trail lass for about ĺ of a mile and is like walking in a Christmas tree sales lot. This, for me was also a Kodak Moment.
Here began the bug-a-boo of the trip. Marcy began to lag further and further behind on the trail. We stopped for lunch at the Chasm Lake junction (and photographed another privy for John We also met the ranger who leads the llama train coming back from the lake. While Larry and Marcy headed for the Boulderfield, I took the detour to Chasm Lake for some photos. The session was cut short by, once again a downpour. I know the water level in the lake was a bit low----but the storm was entirely unnecessary this early in the afternoon. Back on the trail I stopped to chat with the trail builders (5 guys who are living on the tundra for a week while they build the trail. They claim to average 60 feet of repairs per week and hope to reach Boulderfield in 5-6 years! As I sloshed up the trail I was entertained by several marmots, one of whom was intent on riding on my shoe! The rain continued all the way to Boulderfield. I passed Larry and Marcy on my way up and arrived at our rock circle about an hour before they did.
At the field the drama for the evening began. There was a ranger sitting with a young woman who with her husband and reached the summit earlier in the day. When she reached the peak, she just blacked out. When her husband arrived later he began to vomit from the altitude. Two other climbers helped her down (it took the entire afternoon) and they were preparing to transport her to the trail head because she was too dazed to walk. No one knew where her husband was. After they left with the woman and just before sunset, the husband and two other men came down through the keyhole. A horse arrived shortly to carry him to the trailhead.
The rains broke long enough to have dinner and then dumped on us once again. The new idea of washing all the rocks on the mountain every afternoon and evening was becoming a bit silly. Believe me, with the amount of rain coming down everything was absolutely clean!!
Iíve read many times on these forums about folks who do not like to sleep on Boulderfield. Donít really understand why. You are protected from the winds by a sturdy rock wall. There are NO bugs at all, and the temperature is pleasantly cool (some may call it cold). Once again it rained until about midnight, when the rains quit, and the skies cleared. This was my second night on the trail, and I got to admit, I was loving every minute. There is nothing like being (nearly) alone in the wilderness and listening to the sounds of the natural world. By the way, while in my tent I hear the vestibule fluttering, when there was no wind blowing. The culprit was a marmot who had crawled under the fly to get out of the rain and perhaps look for shoes and food. My flashlight sent him rushing away. But looking nose to nose (so to speak) with a marmot at near midnight is quite a thrill. I had to get some sleep-----4 a.m. comes early and I wanted to get up to get a shot of the diamond at daybreak.
More in the next installment. . .
Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:31 PM
Great report! I'm looking forward to more plus pics and am wondering if you were able to summit with all of the rain. We lucked out as the only day we got significant rain was the day we went to Chasm Lake, but I know it settled in after we left the park.
Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:48 PM
....Early morning hike to Beirstadt sounds beautiful. I always love those, just not the dragging out of bed. But I do love the peacefulness, it's always worth the getting up.
...I would love to have had a hoot owl singing to me in my tent!
....the Long's Peak trail, so familiar, so beloved.
....so glad that wasn't me that passed out on the summit of Long's! I'm still dealing with disappointment over not going there, and have occasional moments of insanity when I think I'll do it yet....help me somebody!
....never really wanted to sleep at the Boulderfield, I'd rather be in the woods, it's a little barren up there. I've talked to people who've had miserably cold windy nights. You got lucky, perhaps?
....I'd have let the marmot ride up on my shoe, or my shoulder, or even my pack!
Thanks, Larry! Can't wait to read more!
Posted 11 August 2007 - 07:52 PM
Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:00 PM
Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:12 PM
Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:16 PM
Posted 11 August 2007 - 08:36 PM
John-----when I get time-----your day is coming. I planned for you throughout the entire trip!
forewarned is forearmed!
Posted 11 August 2007 - 10:44 PM
Posted 12 August 2007 - 10:41 AM
I'm eagerly awaiting Part II.
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