As Tamara and I were getting ready early Sunday morning, Dylan poked his head out of his room to tell her that he didn’t feel up for it. Bummed, we loaded up Shadow, the mountain dog, and headed out.
Everyone (Dan, Tom Lopez, Steve Weston, and Tom Cox) met up a couple of hours later at the Prairie Creek trail head. It was a gorgeous morning, low 60’s, sunny and no wind, as we all headed up the well marked Prairie Creek trail at 9:45AM.
The initial couple of miles were pretty easy, only gaining several hundred feet, and everyone was chatting as we walked along. Eventually, it was time to take a hard right, leave the trail, and start bushwhacking our way up. Unfortunately, there was a large plateau above us that obscured the view of our target. We were all pretty sure we were in the right place, but the three of us with maps couldn’t agree on our exact spot. Regardless, we knew we needed to move higher, so up we went. After the enjoyable walk up the trail, this section was a bit of a grunt. It was warming up and the sweat was starting too. In a little less than an hour, we finally reached an upper basin at roughly 9000 feet, and the ridge that lead to our peak came into view.
|Starting the bushwhack|
|Mr. "In the Wild Chef" Steve Weston|
At this point, Steve parted ways with us to go explore a different basin, while Dan and the Toms charged up a steep loose rib of rock that led to the summit ridge. Tamara looked at me with the old, “You’re taking me up that crap!” look as we gazed at the maze of loose rock. But, like a trooper, she kept pace with me as we tried to catch up with Dan and the two Toms.
Since we had Shadow with us, we skirted some of the fun looking class 3 climbing in favor of something better for her. The route was a mix of loose sand and broken rock with the occasional solid rock. We kept the others within sight but never did catch up with them until we reached the main ridge crest.
Once on the ridge crest, the route became solid and we cruised the ¼ mile to what we thought was the highest point. There wasn’t any previous signs of humans, but there was plenty of goat $hit. We may have been the first humans (though it’s doubtful) on the summit, but the goats had been all over it.
We didn’t want to retrace our steps back, so we continued along the ridge until we reached the first saddle. Here we contemplated continuing on vs. dropping down, and finally decided to just head down. Tom Lopez took the lead traversing down the steep loose slope and eventually came to a gully that allowed us to bypass some small drop offs. The rock was loose in the gully, so we took our time and dropped down through the tight slot individually. I was worried about Shadow here, but she mastered it without any problems.
|Dan downclimbing the gully|
Once out of the gully, there was an area that allowed a couple hundred feet of some sketchy boot skiing, so Shadow and I took advantage of it to drop down onto the basin holding a small patch of snow. Once everyone regrouped at this point, it was just a matter of continuing down through varied terrain back to the main trail.
“Just a matter of continuing down through the varied terrain” – well the terrain definitely did vary- from a flat dried pond area to very steep, dry creek beds. This portion of the hike was pretty painful as Tamara and I were tired and starting to get sore. We eventually did finally make it back to the main trail and picked up our pace as the others were a bit out in front.
|A look back up the basin|
|Still dropping with Peak 10158 in the background|
Turns out the trip was a bit over 10 miles (10.4) and we gained more than 3300 feet. A long day in the mountains with some great company.