I wrote this for my school newspaper but I thought that some on Summit Post, especially my friends would enjoy this detailed account of the adventure!
October 2, 2004- Once again I found myself in the company of crazy wild men, embarking on an amazing adventure up to the summit of Medicine Bow Peak. Located in the Snowy Mountain Range, about 20 miles west of Laramie, WY, this peak is worth the drive.
We began our adventure early in the morning. It was around 6:30 a.m. when we officially loaded up, and boarded my dad’s GMC Yukon, and set out to leave. The adventurous men I had with me were Keenan Zimmerman, and John Sandlian, a junior from Lingle-Fort Laramie High School. Unfortunately for me, the driver, I was riding with a notorious morning dead head, Keenan, and a tired out homecoming dancer, John. But with the help of loud music and the excitement of the adventure ahead, we the vehicle was not completely void of life.
Traveling to Cheyenne, and then on I-80 to Laramie, we proceeded west through Centennial, past the Snowy Range Ski Area, and arrived at the trailhead in about 3 1/2 hours. Much to our surprise, everything was covered in snow. But, we were prepared with cold weather gear, and handy Swiss Military snowshoes. Taking our first steps on snow-covered trail, the time marked 12:00, very late to start a peak climb! This late start, the heavy snow, the billowing clouds, and the covered up trail were all important concerns on our minds. But we decided to go for it realizing we could turn back at any time.
As I mentioned, the trail was covered, but we saw signs of foot tracks, so we began to follow them. These were the foot tracks of some women day hikers who made it about ¾ of a mile without snowshoes before turning back. We spoke with them before we started hiking as they checked out our gear like cautious moms who didn’t think we were going to make it. Well, we were going to make it and that was that!
Thankfully, the trail was very well marked with large rock carons. In this case, they were three foot high rock piles surrounding a five foot high wooden post. The path took us up to and along a three to four mile ridge.
The going was very tough even in snowshoes because the trail was covered by powder. No matter what gear a person has they will always sink somewhat in powder. This constant sinking of every step soon became very tiring. But, with a steady pace, and frequent sips of water, we continued on and were well hydrated.
Although this peak climb was an amazing adventure, it did have its drawbacks, and these were false peaks. A false peak can be heart breaking, especially when your legs feel like jelly and your lungs are on fire. But, we kept pressing on making a pact that we would make it to the next peak looming ahead, and on top we would find ourselves on the summit. Well, this happened a total of three times. Although tired, we continued to press on, one foot in front of the other.
Our hard work and determination paid off as we reached the summit around 3:30 The last 25 yards was an epic site as we went up a small snow trough, cliff-side. The rugged ridge sharply dropped off a few feet to our right. What a thrill!
Ecstatic about our accomplishment we dug out the camera and quickly snapped a few shots. We made it to the top! And oh, how beautiful it was. A soft cover of snow blanketed the rugged country farther that our eyes could see. To the South we could make out the harsh country of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. And far to the North Laramie Peak rose above its own wilderness surroundings. If any of you personally have never had the experience of standing on the top of a mountain, do it. There are few other things in this world that can compare. I had been reassured, only an all-powerful God could create something so beautiful!
We spent a total of five minutes up at the top before the bone-chilling wind and increasing time drove us back down. The climb had taken us 3 ½ hours, so we were looking to get back to the car at about five. I personally was glad that the easy part of the climb was now ahead of us, it was all downhill right? Nope. The five mile or so ridge was a gradual climb in elevation but at times the trail would “droop down” before coming back up again. This was a nice downhill break on the way up but now it was uphill.
We continued at a steady pace with John leading the way. His wiry 140 lb. frame was tearing up the trail like no other, and he continually had to wait up for Keenan and me. But luckily he had much patience and what was on his mind was the breath taking scenery all around him, not our slower pace!
Once we got off of the ridge, the last mile and a half was a blast as we glided down the steep slopes with our snowshoes. Reaching the trailhead on time, us wild men congratulated each other on our adventure that was now in the books. A group of ten people or so were “site seeing” at the trailhead, clothed in light jackets, with no hats, and poor shoes for snow. It was obvious that they intended to only venture no more than 10 feet from their car! They stopped what they were doing and stared at us as we arrived at the bottom. The look on their faces was hilarious as they seemed to think it impossible that anyone would climb that snow-covered peak that day.
Quickly turning on the Yukon and cranking up the heat, we proceeded to put on dry socks, and take off our snowshoes. After a few quick minutes we were loaded up and were ready to go. The tail end of the adventure included a cold night’s camp at Vedauwoo and a return home the next day. Whew, all I can say is, “That was awesome.”