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Views, Sunsets and Flat
Tires Views, Sunsets and Flat Tires  by BearQueen

On this day, I learned a lot about dealing with stress under pressure, teamwork, the gifts of angels on the trail in the form of people/other hikers,the stress of feeling responsible for someone else on the trail, and I also learned how amazingly beautiful and majestic Kelly Butte is.

The beginning part of Kelly Butte was definitely easy for me, and I felt a sense of peace and willpower and fortitude as I started the trail with a wonderful hiking partner we brought along and my husband invited through a friend of his named Sherrie. The beginning of Kelly Butte starts out like a regular trail, but quickly starts graduating up into challenging footing (for me, grant it, I am 100 pounds overweight) and some really steep sections. The biggest thing that I struggle with, as my wonderful and experience, beautiful hiking husband Greg knows, is my sense of “exposure” and Kelly Butte definitely has that for me. For EastKing, this mountain is very easy to him, as most that he does with me are.

Autumn Day on Katahdin Beautiful Autumn Day on Katahdin  by Jow

My last highpoint of the season came about when I was made aware of the following information, 1) that my brother in-laws best friend, Greg, who I’ve met many times enjoys hiking and 2) that he was studying for his doctorate of history at University of Maine in Bangor. These two facts coupled with the fact that my normal highpointing partner supposedly hiked Katahdin with the boy scouts like 15 years ago got my brain a working. A plan was put into action and we agreed to give the mighty Katahdin a go on October 8th, the forecast called for great weather and his fellow graduate student, Lee, also wanted to join us. I took Friday off from work and made the long drive from NYC to Greg’s place in Orono, Maine, what’s depressing about this drive is you finally get to Maine and your all excited but you still have like 3 hours left to go. The next morning with our DUPR in hand we left at 5:00am to get to Togue Pond Gatehouse by 7:05am when apparently they stop excepting DUPR’s. We got there and there is a line of cars waiting to see availability of unused DUPR’s you pass this line and get in the next and after about 20 minutes of confusion and cars trying to pass and having to back up we made it through and proceeded to Roaring Brook.

Rule #1 - It's No Fun to
Climb and Die Rule #1 - It's No Fun to Climb and Die  by liferequiresair

Some trips simply don’t turn out the way you thought. Plans change, weather hits, and that section of the route that was supposed to be so straightforward turns into an absolute nightmare. But isn’t that why we do what we do. Because the wilderness is not tame. It is our escape from the predictable.

The plan was a four day solo trip in the Mt Whitney region of the Sierras. I would leave from the Whitney Portal trailhead, summit Whitney by the mountaineer’s route then head down the west side to the Hitchcock Lakes. From there, head straight south over the Mt Hitchcock’s east ridge. Then east from Crabtree lakes to Crabtree Pass. A loop around Mt. McAdie’s southern spur and up to Arc Pass. From there, summit Mt Irvine and Mallory before heading out the Meysan Lakes trail back to the car. At least that was the plan.

I had been planning this little expedition for about a month. I had a few days off from classes and was going to make sure not a minute was wasted. My parents had known of my plans for some time but it was not until five days before the trip that my father fully realized that yes, I was going backpacking by myself and yes, I was avoiding trails as much as possible. To make a long story short, he was concerned. Enough so that he tried to buy me a PLB (or Personal Locator Beacon) in case my situation were to become dire. But alas, stores in Southern California simply do not stock PLBs and due to some dangerous material in the battery, REI was unable to overnight ship a unit. And so, to save my father from four days of worry and to allow myself much needed time to catch up on school work, my trip plan was changed to a one day, solo ascent of Mt. Whitney’s Mountaineer’s route.

Equinox Epic that included Night Glissading Colchuck Equinox Epic that included Night Glissading  by EastKing

Well after an amazing winter for climbing, it is now springtime in the Cascades. Traditionally this is the start of snow-climbing season here although this snow-climbing season started much earlier due to a much warmer than usual winter. The weather window was set and the weather on the Eastern side the Cascades were going to be better than the western side of the Cascades. I was flirting with the idea of redoing Eldorado but after looking at the weather I decided to join on in a trip with Dave (mtn.climber) and his son.

I invited Mike Lewis and Colin (RokisGud on cascadeclimbers.com and nwhikers.net) for this trip. Dave and his son were going to leave early heading up to Colchuck and we were going to meet him up there about 2 pm at Colchuck Lake. From there we were going to all head for the summit and then head back to camp down at the lake and camp the night before heading out the next day.

Crippled Peakbagging II:
Idaho Momentum Crippled Peakbagging II: Idaho Momentum  by Castlereagh

I would start the second leg of my crippled peakbagging tour on Two Point Mountain which, despite not being a P2K, was an Idaho Range Highpoint over 10,000 feet and as a result, on my list. The vague mental map I had drawn for this second leg was to get the highest peak of the Boise Mountains, check out and drink in Boise, make my way north towards McCall and Grangeville to get Buffalo Hump and Grave Peak, two longer but still basic ascents and then, if my knee held up, swing down and grab Homers Young Peak in Montana, a high priority peak for me at the moment, before returning to Salt Lake as the Labor Day rush hit.

The Winds
at our Backs - A ski crossing of the Wind River Range The Winds at our Backs - A ski crossing of the Wind River Range  by relic

In late April of 2015 a friend and I skied across the Wind River Range from the Torrey Lake entrance, up over Burro Pass, down into Dinwoody Creek, took in a summit of Gannett, then exited over Bonney Pass and out to Elkhart Park. It was true wilderness experience; we did not see another human for the entire trip.

The snow drought of 2015 was very evident, the lack of snow in spots on the east side required us to carry the skis almost to Burro Pass,then in quite a few intermittent spots as we worked our way up the Dinwoody. It took 4 days to hike or ski in, with Gannett Peak finally coming into view at the end of day 3; we intentionally set a camp that evening with a great view of the mountain. Day 4 we moved up into the basin directly below the Gooseneck Glacier, finding a perfect rocky alcove in which to set a partly protected camp.

White Hill - Cheticamp
Flowage White Hill - Cheticamp Flowage  by MountainHikerCO

It was almost 11:00 am when we came to a survey cut line that isn’t marked on the map. I did know of its existence from studying the aerial photos of the area. I had a copy of the aerial photo with me. This survey cut line probably indicates the National Park boundary. I knew if the road still existed we had to be within a 100 meters of it along this cut line. Dorthe waited while I first walked about 100 meters in the direction I thought least likely, just to eliminate it. After getting back to Dorthe we didn’t have to travel very far in the other direction to finally meet up with this road. It was now a full 2 hours after leaving the lake. We had only gained about a kilometer in that hour with a lot of thrashing through the bushes.

Little Hikers on the North
Mountain Little Hikers on the North Mountain  by Rocky Alps

Ever since watching “Frozen”, our 3-year-old daughter Ivy has wanted to climb the North Mountain. North Peak (the one near Mount Nebo), one of the few remaining Wasatch 11ers on my list, seemed like the closest mountain having a similar name, so I told her that if she got really good at hiking this summer then we could give it a try. Until this summer she’d mostly just been taken along for the ride in our kid carrier backpack, but with her baby sister Elissa now having dibs on the backpack it was time for Ivy to get used to hiking more on her own. We started out on some easier family hikes in the Wasatch, some of which we’d already done before along with some new ones.

Slam: Spickard, Rahm, Custer, Redoubt, SE Mox Chilliwack Slam: Spickard, Rahm, Custer, Redoubt, SE Mox  by StephAbegg

The Chilliwack Group has particular appeal to peak-baggers because it has five* of Washington's 100 highest summits within close proximity—#16 (Spickard), #18 (Redoubt), #39 (Custer), #56 (SE Mox), and #60 (Rahm). We figured we could easily climb all five in a matter of 4-5 days. At this point, I am not specifically pursuing the Top 100 summits yet, but a trip like this at least inspires the idea to begin to stew in the back of my mind. After all, SE Mox is often considered to be one of the hardest summits on the list, so having that one tagged would make the list all the more achievable. (*Note: At the time we did not realize that there were actually six Top 100 summits in the area, with NW Mox being #75; if we had known we would have climbed NW Mox on our final day before hiking out. Oh well, just gives a reason to go back to the area!)

Even with all our winter day trip-planning, Brian and I had never really nailed down a specific order in which to climb the five summits. The decision was finally made when an early July snowstorm left a fresh dusting of snow on the North Cascades, encouraging us to plan on first climbing the more moderate Spickard, Rahm, and Custer, giving the snow a chance to melt off of the steeper and rockier Redoubt and SE Mox, which we would climb from a basecamp at the head of the Redoubt Glacier. At the onset of the trip, we had been a bit concerned that the early season snowcover would pose some problems, but in the end we discovered that the snow covered much of the annoying scree and talus we had read about, expedited our traverses and descents, and gave the climbs more of an alpine flavor.

Crippled Peakbagging I: Big
Sky Rehab Crippled Peakbagging I: Big Sky Rehab  by Castlereagh

This past August I stood atop Mt. McGuire in the heart of the Bighorn Crags and could not see a damn thing through the wildfire haze. To quote Vince Vaughn a la True Detective Season 2, it was truely blue balls of the heart, in addition a waste of a valuable vacation day, and alas just one of several during a frustrating four days of fruitlessly seeking views during the worst of the 2015 wildfire season, flashbacks of which still fills me with pure, unadulterated rage and literally costs me whole nights of sleep.

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