Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Triple Peak

I usually reserve my weekends for scrambling peaks here in Idaho, or lately in Wyoming. I have been concentrating on the Wyoming Range for some reason, perhaps because this area sees so few people. The peaks are outstanding for a scrambler like me, and my boys have expressed interest in keeping dad company for the last several weekends. I love it when they come with me, a special bond is created that forms in no other way. The last weekend of June rolled around and I was not feeling so swell, my wife was convinced I had kidney stones, and I exhibited very minor symptoms of that ailment. Bummer. So I stayed home and tinkered around the house, fully expecting to be in agony at any moment.

Well the weekend went by with no "incident" and Monday found me feeling pretty darn good. I planned to use the 4th of July to make up for the lost weekend but one problem arose.....all my boys had to work on that day, along with rising early and putting up a 100 or so flags for Scouting.

In case I have not mentioned it, Triple Peak was my destination for this trip. A fairly prominent peak in the Wyoming Range. I have had my eye on this one for a couple of years and today was the day. The temps were forecast to be very hot, near or at record, but for now it was very comfortable. No wind, no bugs (yet) and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect. I gathered my daypack and set off down the path.

The route soon entered the timber and I was reminded of areas of northern Idaho, green, lush, damp. I soon came to the old Smith Cabin. Who was Smith? A trapper? Miner? Sheepherder? No one seemed to know, but his old cabin was long past usefulness, a large tree had fallen on it many years ago making for quite a sight.

Soon the base of the long north ridge was in front of me. Game trails crisscrossed the very lower slope and I took one that looked promising. It turned out to be adequate for my needs and I made pretty good time. The trees kept me cool, but the mosquitoes tormented me. Time for some OFF. As much as I hate the stuff, it is better than the horrible whine and bite of these nasty bugs.

The terrain started to change a little, the trees shorter and spread out. The dirt turning to rocks, more sun and less bugs. The views were opening up and I decided to angle towards the cliff that this peak is known for. Footing was not the best near the edge and I made no attempt to get too close, but what a sight!

I could see the Wind River Range but the air was full of smoke from the Horse Creek fire, still burning more than two weeks later when I was in the area. It made for a distant spectacle, small from where I was, but someone was on the ground over there fighting flames in this heat……….I felt sorry for those men and women.

I was making pretty good time, the several peaks in prior weekends helped with my conditioning and I was still feeling fairly fresh. Looking up I could see two points that I knew were not the summit, but I was going to have to go right over the top of both to get to my goal. They ended up being easier than they looked, the second point being tougher than the first. The rounded top of the next "point" just ahead, but first I have to lose a couple of hundred feet.....bummer.

I soon stroll across the top. A small cairn and several poles lying on the ground greet me, along with thousands of ladybugs and butterflies; so many that standing there was unpleasant. I moved off the very top and found a place to sit and rest.

Triple Summit

I normally don’t bring my iPod, but I found my little Shuffle in my pocket. I turned it on and listened to Lucky Man by The Verve

More or less
It's just a change in me
Something in my liberty
Oh, my, my
Coming and going
I watch you look at me
Watch my fever growing
I know just where I am

What a great song! I seldom have felt more content than at that moment.

Time to go, finished my snack and drank some more water and headed down, but I had to climb back up over that "false" summit. I hate it when that happens. Soon it is all downhill and I am pretty good at that!

I see a deer ahead, just where the trees begin again. I think little of it, deer are everywhere in this area. Then out of no where a fawn jumps up from under my feet and takes off running, fast too! Not often do I get to see baby deer, complete with spots and all!

More downhill. I am back in the trees, off route just a bit. I have this bad habit of getting a bit off course, always to the left. No matter, just a bit of adjustment and again off in the right direction. Just a bit of rough terrain to negotiate, downed trees, rocky outcrops and then it happened….I slipped and fell on my backside and slide off a small drop-off (5 feet) and directly into a bear’s den. A large hole, dug almost straight down for around +- 8 feet. I stop myself from going any further and I am able to pop out just as fast as I went in. I am stunned. I cannot believe what has just happened. I had been thinking about bears after passing some shallow “caves” in the rocks above and now this! Unbelievable! I am so shocked that I hardly have the presence of mind to realize that the den is empty. I am just shaking as I stand there.

It takes me a minute or two to calm down and start making my way off this mountain again. I get a couple of hundred yards downhill and realize I did not take a photo of the den….I always take photos, of everything! Well today I just did not have it in me climb back up there. I will have to make another trip up there and go check it out when I have time. I sure regret not taking the time to snap a few shots when I had the chance.

Soon after I make it back to my car where some cool drinks and food are there to greet me. Life is good, real good!

I made it home in time to help my boys take the flags down before dark. What about the Kidney Stones? Well... who knows, that may come back to haunt me at some later date!