I've been eyeing the Meeker/Longs combo ever since I hiked the Keyhole Route five years ago. After days of researching multitudes of route descriptions and trip reports, I was itching to hit the trail. Hoping to be somewhere in the mid-to-upper Loft Couloir by sunrise, I decided a 3am start should do the trick. The moon was only a few days past full and provided plenty of light for hiking without a headlamp. I was able to make out obstacles such as rocks and steps and horse shit well enough to keep my stumbling down to the frequency of a typical day hike. I switched on my headlamp when the trail ended in Chasm Meadows and began the ascent up the couloir. There was plenty of light by the time I reached the scrambling portion of the couloir, and the sunrise stopped me dead in my tracks in the middle of the exit ledge.
Looking down toward Chasm Junction
The hike up Meeker from the Loft was short and sweet, and I was on the summit ridge in no time.
Longs from Meeker
The combination of strong wind and my healthy fear of heights was enough to keep me from standing on Meeker's tiny summit block, but I did manage a brief low squat which was good enough for me. After my short visit to Meeker, I headed back down to the Loft to search for the magic cairn that leads to the gully down to Clark's Arrow.
White cairn in the Loft
The Magic Cairn circled in red
The Magic Cairn: Gateway to Clark's Arrow
Looking down from the cairn, the gully appears to drop off to oblivion, but the way down slowly reveals itself as you get closer to the edge. There was only one move right before the exit ledge to Clark's Arrow that seemed a little problematic, but even that wasn't too bad. I caught a glimpse of Clark's Arrow as I looked over my shoulder after crossing the exit ledge.
Looking back at Clark's Arrow
From Clark's Arrow I could see people approaching the Homestretch, and it was much closer than I had imagined. I made my way up the couloir to the exit ramp and joined the masses.
I've seen plenty of pictures of the Homestretch before, but never with awesome orange sweatpants.
I sat on the summit of Longs for about fifteen minutes engulfing food and imagining my
beautiful wife off in the distance hiking the Twin Sisters with her friends.
I love the narrows. I love how super scary it looks in pictures, but how tame it really is in person.
I reached the Keyhole around 10:30. The weather still looked good and my knees hadn't exploded yet, so I decided to make the traverse over to Storm Peak.
Approaching the summit of Storm
I was pretty beat by the time I hit the summit of Storm, but after looking across the Boulder Field toward Mount Lady Washington I knew I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't do it. Hoping to get a little boost of energy, I decided to drink the two cans of V8 I brought along with me. They tasted like soap. The views from Mount Lady Washington were amazing...well worth the extra effort.
Longs from the Boulder Field
Summit of Mt Lady Washington
From the summit I slowly made my way down the blocky east ridge toward Chasm Junction. The clouds were starting to form, but I couldn't convince my knees to let me go any faster.
Fortunately I made it to tree line before the rain opened up and the thunder started rumbling. I was back at my car at 3pm; a solid twelve hours of beautiful and painful hiking. I can't wait to do it again.
In the spirit of this being my first trip report, I'd like to add that the weather was great and there was lots of up and up.