Sunday, May 31, 2009

Death Hike 09 (a trip to nelson peak)

So yesterday my friend Tacoma and I went up to nelson peak - 9359 feet approximately 4000 vertical feet in 4 miles.
We met up at my house at 6:30 and headed up to the trail head (using the term trail and trail head VERY loosely here) at the top of bates canyon road at 6:45. From there we started hiking up and trying to stay on the ridge as much as possible. Trying to stay on the ridge let alone move forward was what made this the Death Hike. Once we hit the 6000 foot level we began to have to SLOG our way through (and I quote Tacoma here) the "Impassable Expanse of Scrubby Trees".

From whence we came
to where we are goingFrom this point on we were bulling our way though scrub oak, some kind of nice thorny berry plant, some other foliage that I don't know what it was but was always growing in the worst possible direction for travel. On more than one occasion the shrubbery was covered with some rather large red and black ants that had a nice bite to them (Tacoma claims bruising on his sac from getting bit). Occasionally we would come to small clearings to get some wonderful views of the valley and where we had come from. On the ridge before the end of the hike a couple of golden Eagles gave us a show, Flying at eye level, then up above us to circle for a bit where I got a couple of pics
after about 7 hours of hiking (with only short 1 minute stops to catch wind and 2 5 minute stops for a granola bar) we came to the last climb of the hike. a 300 foot class 5 climb to get to the top (that or add another 3/4 mile walk on 70 degree slopes to get around said climb). We decided to stop for a rest. We laid down on the rock for 30 minutes took some pictures and took stock of the situation.
We decided to be on the safe side with how tired we both were it would take us almost 40 minutes to get to the top, rest and then start down. Coming down from the top would keep us on the ridge for a much longer period of time before there would be a safe area to descend. We had storm clouds coming in from the south west that would hit anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour later.. so we headed down. Just after we got down into a group of aspen trees about 1/4 mile from where we were it began to sprinkle.
Throwing on our rain gear just before is started to pour. for 2 hours we we inundated with the smell of the wet forest, ice cold rain, Hail and rolling thunder and lightning often hitting close enough to make both of us jump. we finally made it back to the jeep at 6:15 after about 11 miles of hiking we got in and started home. Unfortunately with the rain it turned the the road to something slick as snot. The jeep got stuck for a minute but with some nifty driving, engaging the Locker and bumping into a couple of trees we were free!

The end result my legs hurt, knees are swollen, Tacoma states that "my left knee seceded from my body" and we are both covered with bites and scratches from the evil trees. This was an Epic adventures

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