Friday, May 21, 2010
Hooray for Snowshoes!
Ummm... In case you're wondering, no, i am not posting these in any particular order. See, here's the deal. I'd really like to post some of the pictures i took from my last trip to Moab, or Death Valley or any number of trips i've taken. But the problem is that i take WA-HA-HA-HAY too many pictures. i can't decide which ones to post. And by now, geesh, i probably can't remember where i was when i took a particular picture anyway. So i suppose the order i'm posting these in is by which ones are easiest to post. So i finally broke down (half way through the winter) and bought a pair of nice snowshoes. Why, you ask? Duh, so i could go hiking in the winter! No, not so i could die in an avalanche. Anyway, i was very excited to try my new snowshoes out on my first winter hike. So you can imagine my disappointment when i got to the trail and saw this... Yep, that's mud. Look, there's even a mud PUDDLE right there. And no, this is not the beginning of the trail. It's probably about half way (see, i already don't remember). By the time i got near the top it looked like this. Yeah, that's a blizzard! Crazy! But go figure, i STILL didn't need the snowshoes. Oh, by the way, don't you love how sometimes my text for the picture is above and sometimes below the picture? Ummm, so now i don't know if i should caption the next picture right here, or below the picture... Fine, i'll go below. That funny looking guy is me. Yeah, this time i didn't have my ultrapod, and besides, i was at the top, there was nowhere to put it (that means i had to do one of those goofy "hold the camera at arm's length" things - i hate those). And besides, from the picture, can you tell if anything is missing? Go on, look hard... No, the answer is not good lucks, that's too obvious. The answer is my coat. Yeah, i forgot my coat. i drove all the way up Millcreek Canyon, got all my stuff out, and realized i forgot my coat at home. i had my fleece liner, and of course the snowshoes, but no coat. Fortunately, when i started the hike, it wasn't very cold so i figured it wouldn't be a big deal. Obviously by the time i got to the top i didn't want to spend any longer up there in the blizzard than necessary. Oh, and look, i forgot to tell you where i even went hiking. I thought i'd start easy be attempting the relatively easy (and avalanche free) 5 mile hike up to Grandeur Peak. There's supposed to be a great view, but i obviously wouldn't know anything about that (it was a blizzard, remember? Even i remember that.). Guess i'll have to go back. But it was still really fun to get out and go hiking in the winter. Aw man, see, now i have to go back to the top or you won't know what this next pictures is of. So i think this was my next attempt to use my snowshoes. This is Big Cottonwood Canyon on the trail up to Lake Blanche - which i had never done. The idea was to hike to Lake Blanche and then potentially on up to Sundial Peak. Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts to obtain a hiking partner (using craigslist of course) i ended up going alone (i did find someone, but he had to bail last minute). Alright, i'm going to stick to the top now (for my captions). So on my way up the trail (which, of course, is hard packed snow so i don't need the snowshoes - AGAIN!) i met a guy coming down who said to watch out for the moose and her calf a ways up the trail. I was like, "Great, a momma moose and her baby, she's going to be all paranoid and stuff." So i get up to where i can see the moose (worrying every step that she's moved and on the trail ready to charge me) and decided i better go off trail to give her PLENTY of room (the trees they're in are, like, five feet from the trail). So i veer off the trail and immediately start wishing i was wearing the snowshoes. The trail was packed, everything else was NOT. I'm sinking up to my knees, my waist, past my waist in snow. Great, well i'm definitely not a sitting duck now if she decides to charge me. But it was still cool to see some wildlife. Geesh, i just noticed that it's really hard to tell what animal (if any) that is behind all the trees. Sorry, i was being a little paranoid. While going way out and around the moose, go figure, two more guys come along, stick to the trail, get up close and get some undoubtedly MUCH better pictures and just keep going. Meanwhile i'm still stuck up to my neck in snow. Doh. Anyway... This is one of the first views you get of the top of Sundial Peak. It may also be where i either put my snowshoes on, or took off my coat. This is a much closer and better view of Sundial Peak. It's supposedly one of the most picturesque peaks of the Wasatch Front. Up ahead is a little lake. It's hard to tell because it's obviously frozen and covered in snow. Once i got to where the lake was i saw a trail branching off to the right and figured it might be the route around the lake and then on up the mountain. Eventually i got to around this point and discovered it was just an alternate route back down. But i didn't want to go down yet. See that little clump of trees i circled? That's where i hit the lake and then headed off to the right. Where the tracks started heading back this way is where i realized that trail was just going back down. Looking back up the mountain i could see at least one person had gone up in this general direction before me (backcountry skiers - you could see their tracks carving sweet lines down the surrounding mountains). So off i went, and no, i did not fall down that cliff-looking section. Then i hiked all the way up to where i am taking the picture from, those are my fresh tracks in that powder. Now THAT was what i got the snowshoes for! But man, it was exhausting work! I still sank a good 6-12 inches in the snow with every step. I know, probably too fat for my snowshoes - doh! Anyway, i got up to this point and realized a couple things. If i kept heading up the mountain i'd probably be late for my racquetball appointment with Bill later that evening, and the surrounding terrain was much steeper (which means increased avalanche danger) than i originally thought and i probably shouldn't head up by myself. This is just a close-up so you can see my tracks and also the little clump of trees by the lake. Coming down was WAY faster than going up, i figured out that you could kind of just take these big running steps directly down the hillside! SO FUN! Granted you have to make sure you get your strides just right or you wipe out. Uh, not that i would know that or anything though... So right here i've just gotten back across the lake. i actually just walked across it. Those are my tracks going across what i can only imagine has to be the lake. That did make me a little nervous. Not knowing where the lake actually was, how deep it was, how thick the ice was. But i made it across. Woo hoo! And here i met some other hikers (who did NOT have snowshoes and wished they did) and i took some pictures for them and they took some for me. I know, sorry, like you wanted to see that. I even talked them into taking some pictures of me running real quick. But the picture doesn't do it justice. Well, that was definitely a fun hike and i will most certainly be headed back up there. i'd love to still get to the top of Sundial and the lake location with Sundial in the back is sure to make some beautiful pictures. Alright, you can wake up now, i'm done.