Day 7: Four Hikertrash, Two Passes

Friday 7/28/2017, 10.1mi/16.3km

Lake below Fortress Mountain (61.7/10,990ft) – Glacier Trail Jct (71.8/10,730ft) (WY)

I woke at 6am, and I was moving slowly, so Quickham was finished packing up before I even got my tent cleaned out! It was kinda windy and cold, so I tried to move fast once I got out of the tent. Guthook and Hikerbox Special cooked breakfast, and I sat with the group after I finished packing, and ate my cold breakfast bars.  We got on trail around 7:30am, and I found myself with a renewed energy in the larger group.

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We scrambled over the rocky lakeshore, and then chose the high route around the cliff. It involved some 4th-class scrambling, some wet slab, a snow-filled chimney, and some awkward mantling with crampons on.

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The 4 of us got to the top, and then descended the snowfield on the other side. Descending the steep snowfield was so much more enjoyable with an ice axe!

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At the bottom, I crossed a snow bridge over a creek, and I held my breath and treaded lightly as. Guthook and Hikerbox Special stopped there to get water, and the 4 of us met at the base of Alpine Lakes Pass. After a brief break, we started climbing the actual pass, at almost 9:30am. Today has been slow terrain! The actual pass wasn’t too steep, and with the nice firm morning snow, we cruised to the top by 10am.

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After we all arrived, we took a well-deserved break at the top, and I devoured the rest of my Reese’s pieces…oops.

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The descent was fast and fun, as it’s all snow. Toward the bottom we glissaded a bit, and arrived down at the creek crossing in less than an hour. Fun descent video!

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I got down ahead of most of the group, and was able to capture a fun video of Quickham’s glissade.

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The creek was flowing fast, but it was very shallow, so the crossing was uneventful.

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Soon after we stopped at an amazing lunch spot, it had rocks and shade! My faves. It was also a good spot to dry my feet, which have been moist or wet every day.

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We finished lunch, and picked our line up the next climb, trying to avoid the willows.

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Hikerbox picked a good route on some rocks, and we came through the climb easily. After the descent, we arrived at a large stream, which was milky glacial in appearance. It was my most “exciting” crossing yet. Guthook threw me his poles for the last deep part – thanks! We skirted on over to the base of Blaurock Pass, thru the “Sound of Music” setting, it was very green and flowery. Blaurock was a huge climb, and we cut left to avoid an undermined snowfield, which added some distance. The upper half was as steep as anything we’ve done, but it went fast as Quickham took the lead breaking trail. Also, it’s amazing how much faster I moved with the confidence of an ice ax!

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We got to the top of Blaurock Pass at 4pm, and we all hung out for almost an hour enjoying the views and our rapidly diminishing food.

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The descent was quick – first on scree (yay!), then smooth snow that we butt-slid down.

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When we got to Dinwoody creek and the glacier trail, Guthook and Hikerbox Special split off to exit the woods. Goodbye new friends!

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Quickham and I hiked a few more minutes, to a camp spot among rocks. I could tell we were close by the Marmot population, always seeking food.

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By 6:30pm we were set up, and then we made dinner and watched the first half of the movie Wayne’s World! Then, it was time to watch the sunset, and Gannett Peak (behind us) allowed just enough sunlight through. So cool. Darkness descended quickly, and by 9pm I was asleep.

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