Where did Garrett go? A misplaced backpacker out in the Wind River Range backcountry.
If all went as planned, we’d get to our campsite by late afternoon, which would give us plenty of daylight for setting up the tents, organizing gear and even resting some before cooking supper. Our backpacks were heavy, but being mostly young and fit, by lunch we’d already covered well over half of the 15 miles planned for the day. At just a little after 1 o’clock, we crossed the Roaring Fork and stopped on the other side to change out of our river shoes and eat our midday meal of tuna, crackers and gorp. Among other things, the stop also provided a nice break from the uphill grind we’d been on for several hours.
Tuna Surprise, was a very nice way to describe it. We were positioned on the lower slopes of Idaho’s highest peak, 12,662’ Mt. Borah, ready to do a night ascent. Doing it at night would be a good way to make an otherwise arduous and steep summit climb less mentally difficult, I reasoned. We were able to drive right up to our embarking point, so had the relative luxury of being able to carry whatever sort of bulky, non-trail food we wanted, along with a large propane burner. The plan was to have a good, filling and early supper, followed by a few hours of sleep and then a projected five or six hour long ascent, beginning at midnight.
Adventurers weather a violent storm near the Continental Divide in the Wind River Range.
It’d been a long day, but by midafternoon, we were finally up on the top of the Wind River Range. The Continental Divide never failed to intrigue me, as I invariably ended up trying to envision how when it rained, the water would run down from the highest point, ultimately going to either the Pacific or the Atlantic. I would sometimes stand up on a high point and let the rain drip from my body and visualize how it was already on its way and would sooner or later end up in an ocean. This time, not surprisingly, my thoughts were the same. Continue reading “Storm in the Wind River Range”
Backpackers crossing from Waipio to Waimanu Valleys on the Big Island are treated to some interesting guests.
Our day of backpacking up the Z switchback on the Mulawai Trail as we hiked toward Waimanu had been hot at first, but a breath of fresh and cool air had hit us once we got up on top. The refreshingly pleasant conifer forest up there was a welcomed surprise, since we were on Hawaii’s Big Island, but the sleeping platform/shelter midway along the trail, completely expected. We reached the elevated platform midafternoon, and since there was plenty of daylight left and we were all physically drained after making the hot, humid climb up out of Waipio, we all found a spot and stretched out on the relatively clean plywood for a quick nap. As I drifted off, I thought contentedly of black sand beaches, Liliko’i, sea cliffs and shade and soon began dreaming. Josh and I were the oldest and the leaders of the group of 8 or so teenage boys, and that would eventually come into play. But for the moment, we all just slept.
A group of backpackers attempts to climb Lizard Head and learns the true meaning of climbing.
Lizard Head is a big peak just to the north and east of the well-known, long and breathtakingly majestic line of mountains, ridges and spires in the Wind River Range, known as the Cirque of the Towers. On one particular trip, we backpacked with two groups of 7, via different routes both coming in from the east, into Bear Lake. The lake sits just on the east side of Lizard Head and would be the location for our backcountry base camp. Once there, we set up two close, but separate camps between the lake and mountain with the plan to use them as a base from which to explore the area. Since it was during the Fourth of July holiday, we knew that there’d be a lot of people in the general area, but that few, if any, would venture into that, more out of the way, neck of the woods. Our plans included a non-technical ascent of Lizard Head, fishing in area streams and lakes as well as a special Fourth of July supper, which was to include freeze-dried hamburger patties- a cutting-edge item back in the 80’s. Continue reading “Hamburgers and Lizard Head”
A group of backpackers encounter an unexpected trail visitor while descending from the Lost Creek Wilderness.
He yelled at us to stop, from out of nowhere it seemed. It was certainly one of the last things on my mind as I led the group of 9 teenage backpackers down the trail, headed back to our Base Camp facility after a week out in the Lost Creek Wilderness. We’d be back in less than an hour except for whatever was about to happen. He was ragged looking, probably in his 40’s, had a Pit Bull by his side and, thankfully, kept his distance across a dry wash as we talked. Continue reading “Backpackers and a Stranger”
A tree catches fire in the Colorado backcountry at a particularly inopportune time.
Lightning streaked across the sky and was followed instantly by an explosion of thunder, telling me that the thunderstorm was somewhere right above us. It was unsettling, but there wasn’t time to worry about it. I didn’t see any sort of flash hit the ground, but had to wonder if there was one up there, wherever it was that lightning came from, that had one of our names on it. The wind kept blowing relentlessly and the constant gusting made the whole situation seem all the more chaotic. But, where’s the rain, I thought? The Tarryalls needed it. A real downpour might put an end to the Hayman Fire as well as whatever it was that was burning up above on the mountainside. Continue reading “Fire in the Tarryalls”