| Yale - Southwest Slopes
Yale was a beautiful hike/climb. Got to the TH just before dark and was surprised the parking lot was paved, really close to a highway and there was a facility. I was also not used to just arriving at a TH, but driving up a narrow rock infested, bumpy 4WD road wondering if I had missed a crucial turn.
A good sign, follow it
There was a poster on the trail bulletin board that asked we be careful of the frogs. I actually saw one and took a couple of photos before he hopped off into the darkness!
Can you find the frog? There is a narrow yellow stripe on its back!
Got settled for the night, set the alarm for 3am. The weather was turning bad and it rained and thundered most of the night. Once in awhile the moon would poke through the cloud deck. Woke up at 3am, observed the cloudy conditions and went back to sleep hoping for it to clear. At 4am a truck pulled in next to me and a very energetic person was in high speed motion to get up the trail. Had his headlamp been a light sabre, there would have been nothing left in the parking lot. I started thinking about getting ready and then a 15 passenger van hauling a trailer, pulled up and 14 people jumped out scurrying around. I got ready and headed up the trail somewhat behind the crowd. I ran into them just as they finished the first bridge crossing and they graciously let me go ahead. I was later very thankful for that courtesy.
The ever present stream and my favorite bridge you can faintly see in the background
I was doing well until I mistook the next bridge on the right for the trail and that put me on a different route for awhile. It brought me to a huge meadow that eventually lead me to the steep terrain. I reconnected with the proper trail at 11,800' after heading almost straight up the mountain. I was relieved that I was on the published trail. Although I did see a deer munching away and the terrain extra lush and steep, the trail was a nice touch, too.
Don't take this bridge!!!
This is the point I met the proper trail and a family from Missouri
Looking down at treeline
The trail builders' warning sign
At about 13,500' I ran into the trail building folks. A very friendly group struggling with big rocks, digging holes, moving dirt and constructing a durable path that will last a long, long time. ecognized the "light sabre" guy as one of the trail builders.I chatted with them for a few minutes, thanking them for their work and jokingly asked when does the escalator get put it in. We know what it looks like today, but what about 100 years from now? What will future generations change? What would the first hikers/climbers/explorers think about what we are doing now? Such mind boggling thoughts bounced around my mind and I tried to answer them as I went up.
The final ridgeline seen from just below the saddle
Getting near the summit, it is just ahead
The larger than normal summit
The weather had been holding up to the saddle, but I could see two layers of clouds. The high ones were stable, but the lower ones were increasing in size and coming up! No rain or thunder. I arrived at the summit after 4.5 hours. I thought that was pretty good time. After the standard summit traditions, rest, eat, picture, register, I headed down. The lower clouds were now coming over the top of the summit. Visibility was going down hill fast and so was I.
My summit photo with a climbing cloud deck
My new climbinb buddies from Missouri, note the clouds
Time to go! No thunder or lightening, though.
In my haste to descend, I didn't adhere to the ridgeline like I should have and went around to the left a little. It was enough to put me on a track for which I will not likely forget and remember as a valuable lesson. I could see where I wanted to go, but I didn't see that there was a drop off that went on and on. I found myself in what I would call a chute with a long drop. I decided going down further was not an option. There was just air. Looking up where I had climbed down didn't look so good, but I needed to back track. Now I know why climbers can go down, and sometimes get stuck there, unable to get back up. I grabbed every handhold I could find in order to inch my way back up to where I was more comfortable, but I still needed to get down to the saddle. I traversed up and then over, and found a spot where I could get down. Had that spot not been there, I would have been forced to climb back up to the ridgeline. I have a new appreciation for talus vs really big rocks that are difficult to navigate around!
I came down this...
...somewhere in the side of this mountain. Note the deteriorating weather
Once I hit the saddle, it started to sprinkle, then a light rain. As I gladly put on my rain jacket, I thanked God for holding off the rain a few minutes for me. Had my little chute been wet, my efforts would have been more difficult to say the least. The trek down was a little wet and stopped after about an hour. I took a lot of pictures of the portion of the trail that I had not ascended and relocated the bridge to nowhere. All I can say is that it was dark! The trail actually crosses a stream 4 times so there are several bridges or rocks to go over. Starting in the dark does have advantages and disadvantages, but it seems this time of year, climb times are getting squeezed between later sunrises and weather. Nature, what do you do?
Speaking of nature, here a few flower photos
Caught my eye
Crossing this stream got to be habit forming
Someone said this was hallucinogenic
I am sure there is a reason for this, A hole in the rock with a stick in it.
I made Yale a little harder than it should have been. Hopefully, this report will help others to keep it easier!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):