More Desert Stuff, Rainier, and the Winds

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Above – Sunset in Chesler Park

Bottom of post –  A long exposure of the Milky Way using the Polarie tracker in Chesler Park

Wow, it’s been a month and a half since my last post.

Lots of stuff happening, and I’ve been letting things come as they may.

My last trip that I wrote up about, Capitol Reef’s Lower Muley and Halls Creek Narrows, is now live in the newest issue of TrailGroove here – http://www.trailgroove.com/issue15.html?autoflip=109

I also wrote up a nice primer on water filtration and purification, and what options are out there. Hopefully it’ll lead to some informed decisions on what will work best for their trips. – http://www.trailgroove.com/issue15.html?autoflip=11

I am also giving away a Patagonia Houdini Jacket through TrailGroove this month. Check out Aaron’s Blog here for more info – http://www.trailgroove.com/entry.php/44-Patagonia-Houdini-REI-and-TrailGroove-Giveaway

Oh yeah, last thing. Check out that cover photo and back page photo for Issue 15. Yeah, that’s mine 😀

Alright, on to the trip reports.

Since my Capitol Reef Trip, I decided I needed a little bit of snow in my life, so I climbed La Plata Peak the first weekend of May. It was still fairly snowy, requiring snow shoes until it got steep above the trees, and even then, some sections were soft enough to require them, but we made do without them. My partner for that trip was very slow, and it took forever to get to the top, but we made it. He is planning on doing Denali in a year, but considering that was his first successful snow climb ever, and his lack of knowledge and his pace, I’m pretty sure it’s more fantasy than reality, but hey, who knows. I wish I had the time and funds to climb Denali next year, but I don’t.

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Above – On our way up La Plata – Shot with my Theta 360 camera

After that I took two weekends off before my Memorial Day trip. The whole idea was to backpack the Under the Rim trail in Bryce Canyon. After taking off after work, I drove to Escalante where I car camped and tried to see the newest Camelopardalids meteor shower behind intermittent clouds, finally giving up around 2AM and getting some sleep. The next morning I drove the rest of the way to Bryce, just to be told by the rangers that they closed down a significant portion of the backcountry because someone had food in their tent and a bear swiped at them in the night. In my defense, I had tried to call the day before to check on backcountry conditions, but nobody answered the phone, so I decided to go anyways. Apparently a lightning strike had knocked out the power and the phone lines for the national park, which is why nobody answered, and they were still out when I got there, so the whole thing was just pure bad luck. I decided to still stick with the plan and backpack the section that was still open, camping near Swamp Canyon. The next morning I hiked out, hitch-hiked back to my car, and then day hiked the fairyland loop in the northern portion of the park.

After day hiking, I decided I had had enough of Bryce and their backcountry shut down, so I headed towards Capitol Reef to finish hiking the upper portion of Muley twist canyon. I ended up camping at the west end of the major canyon that the burr trail runs through, and shot stars most of the night, waking up to my alarm a few times to get some different shots of the milky way with the help of my new polarie tracker.

The next morning I woke up, drove the rest of the way to Upper Muley. Instead of parking at the designated 2WD spot, I continued on along the stream bed, eventually making it all the way to the 4WD trailhead near the Strike Valley Overlook. Not bad for a 91 Honda civic with 4.5″ of clearance.

I day hiked Upper Muley, which was very cool. The upper section had no less than 5 significant arches along it, and the rim route was spectacular. I wish I would have had the time to backpack and camp along the north end of the rim route. It was amazing.

After getting back to my car, I drove the rest of the way home, begrudging the fact that I had to work the next morning instead of being able to explore the reef a little more. I think I have a new favorite national park.

The weekend after that, I headed back to Utah for my final desert trip of the season. I had secured an overnight permit for Chesler Park, and I wanted to explore the western section of the needles that I hadn’t seen yet. We decided to make the trip start/end at Squaw Flat campground instead of elephant hill, making the route a little longer, but allowing us to see some sections that we missed on our last trip. Chesler Park was beautiful. It had long grass, lots of wild flowers and flowering cacti, and some spectacular sandstone. We had our permit for CP5, which is the last campsite along a sandstone ridge in the middle of the park. Along that same ridge we found a historic cowboy camp, which just added to the experience of camping in the park.

After dropping off our stuff in camp, we day hiked to the joint, a narrow slot canyon like passage from Chesler Park to the area below it where the 4WD road allowed access to the park (from elephant hill to Beef Basin). After exploring some more, we headed back to camp to have dinner, watch the sun set, and shoot some more star photos (again, I brought the polar tracker) and woke up a few times during the night to shoot photos.  Unfortunately, it had to be a short weekend trip, so the next day we hiked out, and drove back to Denver.

Last weekend, Father’s day weekend, I continued my tradition of taking my daughter camping. This is the 4th summer I’ve taken her camping.  As always, it was a blast, with lots of s’mores, stories, and games.

Now, for the plans.

Sean O’Rourke, who I met in Ouray a while back while ice climbing, is an awesome guy with a climbing lifestyle that I definitely envy. Earlier this spring, he mentioned he was having issues getting a permit to climb rainier solo, so I made the offer that if he wanted a partner, I’d fly up there and climb it with him. I’ve done harder (see Operation Dark Snake in 2013 and my report about Gannett in 2010), but I knew it would still be a challenge. Sure enough, I got a few emails from him at the start of June, and we nailed down a weekend in July for a summit attempt. It’ll be my first trip to the Pacific Northwest, so I am definitely excited. I’m also excited to finally get to climb with Sean, although I know he’s going to dust me unless I train hard.

Other stuff in the bag is a few 14ers next weekend (trying to hit 10k feet of gain in 48 hours) and tentatively taking Alex on a trip to the Sand Dunes for some “Daddy/Daughter” time the weekend after that. It’ll be the first multi-night camping trip I’ve taken her on, so I’m hoping it goes well. She seemed to enjoy last weekend quite a bit.

Next comes the Wind Rivers. I’ll be heading up to Lander to backpack a new section of the Wind Rivers I haven’t seen before, and maybe catch a summit along the way.  I’ll be backpacking with Aaron, so I’ll have some good company for that trip as well.

After the winds and Rainier, I have no plans. At all….

I guess I’ll have to find something fun. Maybe spend a few weekends taking Alex on local trips or backpacking a few sections of the Colorado Trail, and I’ll figure out a Labor Day trip too. For Labor Day, a few idea’s I have floating around is Granite Peak in Montana, maybe another trip to backpack something in the Winds or the Tetons, maybe a 14ers trip (Chicago Basin could be done in a long weekend). Who knows?

MAKE EACH DAY A NEW HORIZON

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