Fadgen's Adventures

Fadgen's Adventures
Green Creek Lake

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Copper Basin

The Pioneers from Lake Creek Sunday morning
I'd been itching to get back to Copper Basin for the last couple of years but just hadn't had the chance to do it.  With a free weekend, Tamara and I decided to make the long drive over Trail Creek Summit into Copper Basin for a little hiking and biking.

We had a leisurely 7AM start Saturday morning, arriving at Star Hope Campground a little after noon to set up "camp".  After a quick lunch, we were on to our first adventure - climbing Roundup Peak.  Though the day started clear and calm, as we started the hike, clouds started building from the west, and the wind started blowing from the same direction.
Peak 10,225 aka Roundup Peak
We started the hike following an old road that moved through a sage meadow interspersed with lupine that would be blooming in the coming weeks.  As we moved higher, we entered a whitebark pine forest.  Though these trees are on the decline, there was quite a bit of new growth amongst the giant dead whitebark pines.

As we moved up through the forest, we eventually gained the ridge overlooking the Lake Creek drainage.  Here the wind sounded like a freight train as it passed over the ridge and through the trees.  Along with the wind, the clouds were becoming a bit darker, but they were moving so fast that thunderstorms seemed unlikely. So, we continued on up.

While Tamara stayed down out of the wind, Shadow and I quickly dashed up and touched the summit.
Shadow working on her LoJ peak numbers
After rejoining Tamara, we took a gentle connecting ridge back down to the truck, and were heading back to camp 3 hours after we started.

Unlike Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning was all bright sunshine without clouds or wind.  After a couple cups of coffee and a big breakfast, we loaded the mountain bikes in the back of the truck and made the short drive to Lake Creek Recreation Site.

Our plan was to bike a 13 mile loop through Lake Creek, that started at approximately 8200 feet and would climb to a series of lakes at 9600 feet.  With some beta we received from a guy who had attempted the loop Saturday, we weren't confident that it could be done, but were up for it giving it the "old college try".

After leaving Shadow in her kennel in the shade, we started up the ATV two track that would be our trail for the day.
Psyched at the start

Entering Lake Creek

For the first four miles, the trail meanders through the rocky valley floor while gaining approximately 800 feet.  Nothing too strenuous if you're cycling at 2500 feet, but at this elevation the breathing gets a little difficult.  We stopped frequently to take photographs and catch our breath.

At about the four mile mark, we started up a series of very steep, muddy switchbacks that required a bit of hike-a-bike.  Nothing too bad and we were still smiling, so we continued on.  We eventually reached Long Lake at 9600 feet to some stunning views of the Alcyon Peaks.
Long Lake with some of the Alcyon Peaks in the background
Still smiling!
After a short break admiring the views, we were off to try and complete the loop.  So a bit more climbing up the steep, muddy trail.  While above 9000 feet, we were able to bypass the majority of the snow on the trail by following the ATV ruts that went through it,  but apparently no one had been on this section off the trail yet this year, so we ran into a few large snowbanks blocking our path.

Tamara bypassing some snow
No worries though!  A bit of high stepping through the soft snow in half a dozen places, and we continued on.

Eventually the snow petered out, and we were heading down a series of steep muddy switchbacks that eventually led us back to the trail we had started up on.  A few bone jarring miles(with no falls) later and we were back at the truck with huge smiles on our faces.  The 13 mile, 1500 foot mountain bike loop had taken us 4 hours to complete, but it was absolutely awesome!  

Tamara getting a bit loose in the rocks

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A team of adventurers consisting of John, Tamara, Taylor, Dylan, and Shadow Fadgen