Tuesday 7/25/2017, 12.9mi/20.8km
Lake below Raid Peak Pass (37.0/10,650ft) – Tarn before Europe Peak (48.4/10,550ft) (WY) +1.5mi detour
I woke up at 6am again, and getting packed up in the wind (which just started at 6:15) was a bit tricky. We ate our usual cold breakfast, said goodbye to our resident marmot and duck friends, and hit the trail at 6:45am.
We cruised up the “sublime ramp” and then angled across a low-angle snowfield, then up the last 100ft to the top of the Raid Peak Pass. The snow was steep for the last 20ft, and it was scary without an ice axe.
At the top of Raid Peak Pass, we got some trail magic! Someone had dropped a bagel.
It must’ve happened recently too, the bagel was still soft and edible. Food always tastes better when you didn’t have to carry it yourself, ha!
We descended the talus on the other side, and then paused at the top of a very steep snowfield. Without axes, we had to choose a longer, less steep detour.
The detour added 1.5 miles/600ft, but it was much safer. After an hour, we were back on the route, and ascended to Sentry Pass.
It was tricky to squeeze between the bergschrund and the rocks.
Sentry pass was so friendly, with almost no snow and with grassy ledges!
The north side was still covered in snow, so we rode a talus ridge most of the way down.
More bergschrund shenanigans were had on the descent, as well.
The lakes at the bottom were long, and we stayed 500ft above the first lake, to avoid a bushwhack thru thick willows. The clouds started to sprinkle as we descended to the lakeshore, and soon we picked up a nice elk trail.
At Middle Lake, we met a couple hiking with two llamas!
The hikers had trail names of Cirque and Soft, and were on their annual butterfly trip.
We chatted for 15 minutes, then left Middle Fork Lake, and hiked up the 400ft hill to Benchmark lake.
It was steep, with tricky routefinding to avoid willow and krummholz. At the top, it was very snowy, and the trail to Photo Pass was mostly buried.
The climb up Photo Pass was mostly on snow, and we went slowly to avoid slipping.
We got to the top of Photo Pass at 4pm, and had a nice break. I accidentally ate all my Nutella, oops! We easily descended the talus down the other side of the pass.
The valley bottom was nice, and we cruised through open forest on elk trails, and we saw elk!
We crossed a fast-moving knee-deep river, and then hiked uphill for the final mile. There was some bushwhacking, and it started sprinkling rain.
We arrived to our campsite at 6:30pm, next to a tarn below Europe Peak. We set up our tents quickly in case the rain came back. I made a double dinner of Knorrs pasta and Idahoan mashed potatoes, and then lounged around until 9pm. I wrote my usual journal, and after taking ibuprofen for my ribs, I finally fell asleep by 9:30pm.