After having ascended Medicine Bow earlier in the day, I hoped to sneak in Bridger as well before heading back to Laramie. My main concern was the time; I had a flashlight, but really didn’t want to have to use it. Of some consolation was the fact that the route up Bridger was a 4WD drive, so realistically, route-finding would probably not be a problem on the way back.
The drive from Snowy to Battle Pass went by fairly quickly despite some road construction. I was not certain whether Battle Pass was well-marked, so several times during the drive up I encountered some false summits before realizing that the road had yet to top out. I did not realize that this would end up becoming a recurring theme to this hike.
Locating the Pass was key though, as, according to this website’s route description, the trailhead was an unmarked turnoff right after the pass.
Fact was, the pass was very well marked, and the road descends a hundred feet or so before arriving at the turnoff. It is still unmarked, but the dirt road is fairly wide, and you can tell very quickly whether you are on the right track, as right after the turn the road emerges into a clearing, which is the designated parking lot.
There is a sign for Bridger Peak pointing to the 4WD road leading to its summit, which is helpful, as there are several other 4WD roads branching off from the parking lot. The hike was a conventional road walk, but the trip proved to be more difficult than I had expected, as I am extremely out of shape (in fact, I wonder if you can be “out” of shape when you have never been “in” shape to begin with). The hike up Medicine Bow had been fairly easy, as I barely broke a sweat, but in attempting my second peak of the day, however easy, I was feeling fatigued minutes after leaving the trailhead.
The hike turned out a little more deceiving than I had expected, as well. About a mile-and-a-half in, I saw a rocky outcropping ahead. Rationally, I knew that I was probably around halfway done, but I somehow managed to deceive myself into thinking that the false summit was the real deal. As I approached, I debated whether to veer cross-country towards the summit, or continue on the road. As the road continued to gain elevation, it soon became apparent that the false summit was, indeed, false. This was immensely discouraging.
The False Summit
After this I continued to plod forward, no summit in sight. However, in looking towards my right (north I think) I caught sight of a mountain that seemed to be substantially higher, and from the looks of it, 3-5 miles farther along the ridge. If that was indeed Bridger, then I had neither the energy nor the time to make a successful summit. After a period of excruciating uncertainty, the true summit finally appeared in front of me.
|First view of actual summit
I wasn’t sure whether the road led to the summit, so I cut cross-country across the meadows to gain the main summit ridge. Every step was extremely painful, up to and including the final outcropping to the top. The views were great, with the tranquil scene of the Elkheads to the south, and the Great Divide Basin to the north. Again, I was thrilled to see Ferris Mtn to the north.
The day was getting later, and the summit was a little nipply with the wind. The initial descent back to the road was just as painful as the ascent, as I had no energy left in the tank. Soon, however, I found myself in autopilot mode, completely zoning out everything as I fearfully contemplated my options: specifically, whether or not to attempt Pyramid Peak in the days ahead. My thoughts concentrated on Pyramid, I barely noticed my surroundings until I was about 10 minutes or so from the trailhead.
The day completed, and having made a tentative decision for Pyramid, I took some shots of Bridger from Battle Pass and drove aback to Laramie with a dinner stop in Centennial. The next day would involve driving into Ft Collins to pick up my debit card (see Medicine Bow trip report) and some more apprehensive deliberating regarding Pyramid.
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