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Terrain: Tundra/talus with loose descent off 13,540A
Fall gathering is one of the best times of the year. I usually don't write a TR when I'm hiking with others, as I'm usually enjoying the camaraderie instead of taking photos. But I'll make an exception here. The cold didn't let me take as many photos as I would have liked, as well as trying to keep up with these young pups limited my camera time. With me reaching Pok-e-man level 41 and recovering from yet another injury, my body seemed ready to fight me today with a bunch of F.U.'s, creating numerous points of fatigue. So the chase would be on all day. At least I have endurance in this race. I may not be back to cheetah speed yet, but the cougar knows how to stalk their prey.
As I usually don't have partners for random 13ers, I originally planned this trek as a solo ridge run with a mile walk on the road. But when 4 younger guys were willing to be in my presence (and get up at 3:30am), it was time to work the car shuttle. The glorious car shuttle. I apparently didn't dream big enough, as where I planned on starting wasn't high enough for Ryan, so we started to drive up Cinnamon Pass. We'd leave Graham's jeep above, with my truck and Taylor's vehicle at Cooper Creek. Nick was rightly scared to go off with Ryan's jeep to go hike Handies instead.
At O dark WTF, we started up by a cairn at our trailhead. Amazingly we avoided all the cliffs surrounding us, only seen after the hike. Headlamps raced up the slope, and I chased after them in the cold air hurting my lungs. At the top of the saddle, we traversed west instead of immediately dropping (grassy slopes below, but since it was dark, we didn't see this). So we dropped on stupid steep talus, Ryan falling a couple of times. In long grass, the cougar can approach rapidly, closing the gap, but not on steep loose talus.
Soon as I got to the road, I said F that dropping steep loose talus shite, I'm taking the road. Taylor wisely followed me. We had a pleasant walk around to where the others were crawling on hands and feet up the steep talus slope, out of breath and jealous of our easy walk. Well, all jealous but stubborn Ryan ;) The cougar has to adapt her route to her prey and adjust to cut them off. If they look up, she stops. If they move on, she continues. The dark hides all, but the headlamps
The remainder of the route up to 13,427 was on easy tundra. Ryan ran up to his "summit", while the rest of us headed towards the real summit. Sunrise overcame us enroute to the first summit, and all the whining ceased about our early start time.
After the paws froze, we scampered up to the summit itself in the cold morning breeze.
After photos, it was time to descend, paws were frozen. Directly off the summit was snowy and steep, but Tony, Taylor and Graham found a better descent option, while Ryan put on his claws/microspikes.
The remainder of the route up to 13,540 A was just a long talus ridge. Never caught the cougar prey (elk), but I had others in my sights.
Less snow on summit 2, as the sun and air tries to heat things up a little.
After summit 2, we were quite pleased with ourselves. This was going smoothly, if only a bit chilly and windy. Then we would come to a stupid loose class 3 ish descent where we all had to go slowly and carefully. We didn't bring helmets, and rock fall was a major issue. Killing my prey with rocks isn't very sporting!
As we approached the next set of obstacles, 2 went left up loose talus, where I heard "don't recommend my route" from a mile away. While the smarter prey went to the right and found a delightful class 4 chimney to scramble up. Only one move was suspect, but otherwise it made this cougar smile with sheer delight!
After that excitement, the terrain eases back to tundra and talus. Prime stalking terrain.
The summit of C.T was a welcome sight, though with Gudy closely in view, we didn't stay long. Snow storms were forecasted for early afternoon
A quick descent down and up talus to Gudy Peak. Quick is relative. This cougar was feeling her age and was worried her prey would escape! Though as the gap closes, the cougar slows down and her stalking becomes more intense and low profile. Cougars find it hard to out run their prey, so every inch nearer, will tilt the odds in my favor.
Arrival on the (final) summit was pleasing. Though it was sad as none of my prey wanted to continue onto the other 2 peaks. The ridge that made them look so close, now elongated and became rougher than viewed from farther away
But alas, I play with my prey like a kitten and they get away from me. We went back down the ridge to the first saddle and descent a steep grassy pebbly slope to the valley below. My paws were in massive pain, and my prey could have left me completely.
I followed Ryan and Graham on the right/west side of the stream, instead of gaining the far bank to the trail. We met Tony and Taylor a bit below where the trail crosses the stream, to make our final descent to the vehicles. Ryan the daring prey decided to tease me into stalking some other peaks, but had to run away to avoid my claws!
After driving up to almost Cinnamon Pass to retrieve Graham's Jeep, it was back to the gathering. A fellow cougar grilled me up some steak, after I polished off my pound of burgers. A happy contented and purring kitten with a food baby.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
...there is probably only one thing worse than a 3:30 a.m. wake up on a cold, dark morning: Being awoken at 3:30 a.m. wake up on a cold, dark morning by OTINA. The very thought makes me want to stop what I'm doing, crawl back into my bed, and cry out, "Make it stop! Make it stop!" LOL. Congrats guys. It looks cold.
the funniest report I've read in awhile! Vadim and I hiked the 4-pack last October in the opposite direction without the shuttle and he asked to be featured in the TR, but I was too lazy to put anything out. Besides, without a spin like you did, there's not much to say about the peaks. And I think you'll be happy not adding Every and Cooper Creek to this outing as we found the ridge between them rather involved and tedious. I'd also recommend starting from Sun/Red TH, as it took awhile to get up it from Cooper Creek drainage. Don't be fooled by Ben's cheetah speed times, he just makes everying look easy and short, when it wasn't
Natalie - There is a reason why these were the last peaks to be done in the region. Between finding out one guy was half my age and that shot of the 4 split up, was when I came up with the concept for the TR. Ben is a speed beast, so I donĂ¢‚¬„¢t tend to pay too close attention.
seem too young to be a cougar but I did not look up the definition...
sorry I did not see you, had to leave Saturday, it turned out to be a nice day though where I was at, it looked like it could be nice or really snowing depending on where you were at that day as I looked out across the range
nyker - Just iPhone pano's, but they make photo processing after the hike much easier!
piper14er - Yes, I'm old enough... Here's the feline scale. Glad your trip worked out, never thought to come from the Wetterhorn side! Might have to try it myself one fall gathering
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