With going to the CAIC Benefit Bash on Sat night, I was looking for something easy to do on Sunday. Some musical partners ensued, and eventually turned into just me and someone who had pm'd me after my post. Unfortunately, it was all last minute and so nothing was ever firmed up. My only plan was to drive up the road as far as I could get, either on Saturday night or on Sunday morning, starting around 8am. Why have an early start? You have all day!
Well, all good plans go awry when you have some of Fritz's magic liquor, so I got a later start to the trailhead Saturday night than desired. Not wanting to bother reading the description to the trailhead, I just plugged in the coordinates from the 14ers app into Google Maps on my phone, and hit get directions. At this point I didn't quite realize that Google put me on the "alternate route". I just went along with it, merrily driving along, completely missing the left turn onto 2B. Around the mining area, things started to look a bit rough with road construction, but I didn't think too much of it, there were plenty of tire tracks in front of me! So I kept going. I noticed a sign "Chains useful beyond this point". I don't have chains yet (nor any kitty litter or fire ashes to help with traction on ice - my stupid fault), so we'll see how far I get. My Subaru had good traction, and the road didn't look all that bad, some rocks to avoid in places. Soon it got a bit rougher and I had to utilize my limited skills at off-roading, gained by driving my truck on tough 4WD roads. Then the snow got a bit deeper in the middle of the road, and at the sides. Plus it got a bit narrower in places. Soon I was heading up another hill. Didn't think about it all that much, there were tire tracks above. The guy who had pm'd me, must be above the hill. So I started up. Hit a large patch of ice, lost momentum, slowed down, and then started skidding a bit. Didn't panic, tried to go up hill again, skid... Hmmm, darn! Guess I'll back down to that wider stretch of road and turn around and go back to that flat spot a bit lower down. So I back down to the wider area and start the multi point turn. I get the car perpendicular to the road when it starts slipping on the ice. Hmmm not good. Kinda stuck now, all tires are just spinning. No chains, so I do the next best thing, I open the door and do a Fred Flintstone and use my foot to rock the car a bit. Movement!!! So I maneuver back into backing down the hill, and get to a flat area where there is a camping pull-out. I park it here on the road, since it's 1am and I'm exhausted after all that excitement. I'll shovel out a spot tomorrow morning. Hopefully no one else comes up the road earlier than me getting up in the morning!
So after sunrise I awaken from my cushy car camping sleep, and start shoveling out a spot to park the car. I even test backing up again, to make sure I can get out of the parking spot. No prob, I hope. So a bit later than planned, I start hiking up the road, expecting to see at least 1 4WD vehicle higher up the road. As it turns out, if you can get up that hill at around 11,300', you could drive to within almost a 0.25 mile of the actual trailhead!
Since I hadn't seen anyone yet, and already having more than enough excitement for one 24hr period, I decided to forgo the west ridge of Dyer. It looked a little snowy, but not too bad. AndYouSeeMe also made it sound horrendous, so I was over that route. Let's just have a nice day on class 1&2, with a little bit of trail on the way down.
As I hiked up the road, I noticed an upper road (what I thought was just another mining road), so I made my way up there. Then I saw lots of foot prints. Dang. That's when I realized that I had taken a different road to the trailhead than normal, and why there were no other vehicles above me. Oooops. Though my mistake got me higher up than the regular way.
Route to trailhead. Black- standard, Purple - locals (Google Map directions), Green Dot - Green Subaru
Snow packed road just above the hill I couldn't drive up
Looking back down the road from the trailhead
I started up the standard route up Dyer, looking behind me periodically, to see if anyone was following me. Now I knew that any potential partner may have had up to 1-2 more miles to walk than me to get to the upper trailhead. Not much snow to contend with as I went up near the mining road. Since it was snow packed, I just went straight up, avoiding the snow as much as possible. Once above the bump in the ridge, I see the summit of Dyer for the first time from this angle. Not much farther. So I went up to the ridge and followed that up to the summit. Not much of a breeze yet, so it was quite pleasant!
Mostly snow free route starting up Dyer
First view of summit of Dyer
Approaching south ridge to Dyer
Some exposure on ridge
Sat on the summit for a little while and took a couple photos. My battery was in an eternal dying fit, and if I turned it off after every photo, I could squeak in another pic. All day I did this, until the way down, then it needed longer "breaks" in between use. Oh well, it's only the Mosquito Range, it's not that picturesque...
The ridge over to Gemini was mostly dry, except right off the summit, where I got in a nice butt ski! En-route to Gemini, the wind picked up, and progressively got more annoying.
Gemini and Sherman from Dyer
Looking at the northern Mosquito
Mostly dry ridge to Gemini
Looking back at Dyer
On the summit of Gemini, I can barely stand upright, so I snap the couple pics I want and head back down. There's a momentary reprieve in the wind as I walk behind Gemini's double summit area. But then afterwards, it's strong enough to almost force me over, all the way to Sherman
Sherman from Gemini
Dyer from Gemini
Once on Sherman, the wind lets up a little, to be able to take a longer break. Just one more peak to go! I had wanted to ski both Dyer and Sheridan, but feeling this wind, I doubt there are many windless days up here.
Horseshoe and Sheridan from Sherman
The hike up Sheridan seems to take forever. It's still very windy and I'm getting cold, as the route is in the shade now. But eventually I get to the cairn on top. The wind shelter is at the other end of the summit ridge, so I walk over there. Looking back, the cairn is higher. Oh well. The wind shelter provided at least minimal wind protection. Minimal.
Horseshoe from Sheridan
Summit of Sheridan from wind shelter - Fire east of Pikes?
Looking over at Dyer and Sherman from Sheridan
Back at the saddle with Sherman, there is a trail all the way down with some tracks from at least 2 people I saw walking up the road earlier. Some deep snow and post-holing, but at least I'm gong downhill! One set of tracks goes to the upper trailhead, another goes to the 2 - 2B intersection. I take the short cut and post-hole a little bit more before getting back to the road. From there, all I have to think about is getting my car back on dry pavement!
Looking back on Sherman in the setting sun
Back at the car, I waste little time and start the process of getting the car back on the road. The sun is setting, and the road where I parked over night got icy from me running the car, to get the interior warm for sleeping. So I start to back it up, get onto the road with my back tires.... SPIN! It spins me sideways into the snow I had shoveled. Hmmm, now what? So I shovel a route in front of the car, and pull a bit further forward, and then try to back up more up hill. Works! Back on the road! From there I take it carefully down, putting it in low gear to take the 4WD parts as easy as possible. Back on pavement, I stop where the actual winter parking lot is, to change boots and relax a bit.
Just proves that I don't need to plan an adventure, adventures find me!
Poach my parking spot - if you dare!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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