Adam's Colorado and Wyoming Trip
Last Updated on October 16, 2012 Written by The Backpackers Shop
My trip to Denver and Laramie started with an early flight out of Cleveland Hopkins to Denver International. After an eventful drive and a scramble through security I was happily asleep on my way out west. I landed in Denver around noon, met my brother and drove to Buena Vista to camp for a few hours of sleep. We woke up at 3:00 AM for a light breakfast and were on the Missouri Gulch Trail by 4:00. A couple miles into the trail it began to slope upwards quickly cleared treeline. At this point the sun was coming up and Missouri Mountain was visible to the west. We summited Mt. Belford (14,153') around 10:00 AM and began to descend into the saddle to get out of the wind for lunch. After a quick lunch of PB & J tortillas we continued across the saddle up Mt. Oxford (14,153').
From the summit of Mt. Oxford we could see Mt. Huron in the distance and some weather beginning to roll in. The dark clouds encouraged us to get down quickly so we hightailed it back up Belford and down the Elkhead pass trail into the valley. We got camp set up and it promptly began to storm, thunder is a lot louder at 13,000'. We waited out the storm, cooked dinner and got to bed early.
The next day we repeated our 3:00 AM wake up for Missouri Mountain but thankfully left our tents, sleeping bags, etc. at camp and carried much lighter packs for this leg. We hiked at a modest grade until the turnoff and then switchbacked up to 14,000'. The trail topped out onto a narrow ridgeline and followed this for an easy mile to the summit.
We reached the apex early and the weather allowed us to hangout on top for a minute. Instead of retracing our route back to camp, we continued on the ridgeline which quickly turned into scrambling and we were appreciative of our lighter packs. After a short section of downclimbing we descended to a scree field and glissaded back to our trail. We arrived back at camp around noon, packed up and headed back to the car and got on the road to Laramie.
Laramie is about a 30 minute drive to Vedauwoo for some of the best climbing in Wyoming. After consulting the bouldering guidebook we grabbed our crashpad and wandered in. It only took me one problem to learn that a couple rolls of tape are a necessity for the rock here.
We bouldered for a while but the soreness was setting in from the day before so we called it quits. My brother had class the next day and a mess of work to catch up on so I took his car and headed down to Brooklyn Lake in Medicine Bow National forest for some solo nights. This section of Med Bow is wide open for large parts of the park and the wind never stops blowing so I hiked comfortably in a shell and long pants for the entire day. The high winds also tend to blow the trail signs down so I had a little trouble navigating (a trail map printout from 1993 doesn't help either). I camped near the car at brooklyn lake the first night and got up before sunrise to start. After hiking through a dense pine forest I emerged onto the plains and caught the sunrise for coffee next to a lake.
I skirted the perimeter of the park for the majority of the first day and then traveled towards the interior to get out of the wind and camp for the night. It got below freezing that night so I was thankful for my western mountaineering bag. The next morning I hiked through the valley next to medicine bow peak and back to the car.
All in all it was a high mileage couple of days but the dry air and cool temps helped my endurance. My last day was a long one, my brother and I woke up early for some sport climbing at Vedauwoo before catching my shuttle back to Denver and flying home. I got in around midnight and was very grateful that my wonderful girlfriend was willing to pick me up, considering that I forgot to tell her I needed a ride home.
Mike's Yosemite Trip
Last Updated on October 08, 2012 Written by The Backpackers Shop
Bears, bears, and more bears. My trip to Yosemite was filled with hard days, beautiful scenery, and wildlife! It didn’t take long to stumble upon some wildlife. I started my trip on the North Rim trail with an unusually rainy day. Hours into the hike, the clouds parted, and the sun came out. I was enjoying the high country and sun and not paying attention to my surroundings. Moments later I heard a terrible scratching sound. I looked over to see a large bear crawling up the rock slope. As I started to yell, I noticed three cubs climbing up a tree… not exactly how I wanted to start my trip. After giving the bears some space and time I was able to walk by. This encounter got my blood pumping and was soon forgotten as I made my way to the top of El Capitan and the spot for my first night in the woods. I had some amazing views of sunset and sunrise from this 7,000 ft granite giant.
The next day involved a good amount of elevation change. I was rewarded with a nice swim in Yosemite River. Due to the low amount of rainfall I was able to swim in this river 30 yards or so from Yosemite Falls. After some R and R I was able to hike to Yosemite Pointe and North Dome. The afternoon heat was getting to me and the lack of water meant I had to push on. I ended up a few miles from North Dome in an area called Snow Creek. This would be the site of another bear encounter. After setting up camp and dinner I was getting ready for bed. Moments after turning my headlamp off, a bear came into camp. I started barking like a dog to spook it. My crazy barking worked as the bear headed for the hills. I barely slept a wink that night. Every few minuets I would hear something. Could be a bear… could be nothing… but I would get out of my tent shine my light around and make some noise. I got moving extremely early that morning due to no sleep and wanting to get into the Valley. I enjoyed a large decent into the Yosemite Valley while taking in beautiful view of Half Dome! I enjoyed a day and a half in the valley eating some real food, taking in a film about the park, and taking the shuttle buses around to different parts of the park.
I then left the Valley for the high country again. The second part of my trip was a section of the John Muir Trail. The day started off with a large climb to 9,000 plus feet. The scenery was amazing at this altitude. Got to take some breaks at a few alpine lakes. After avoiding an afternoon thunderstorm I set up camp. I was able to camp with a few guys from Australia trying to thru-hike the John Muir. We shared some funny hiking stories as we cooked and then called in an early night. I was awoken by one of the guys singing. I yelled to the guy, “ why are you singing?” He said there was a bear by his tent. I laughed and then said, “you have to yell at it!”. I started yelling while getting out of my tent. We investigated and then got to take in some amazing stars. I got some great sleep that night and felt well rested in the AM. I was off early in the morning to make my way to Half Dome. A few minutes into walking I came upon a mom and her cub at a safe distance. Once again I yelled and the bears took off. It’s always a manly feeling when you can look at a bear, yell at it, and have the bear run away. A few hours later I was at the base of Half Dome. It was a rough hike up to the sub dome. Once I was here I hid my pack and kept going. There were granite steps built into the mountain. After the steps came walking up the rock face followed by the cables. The cables made their way to the top. This section was rather scary as I tried to take in the views around me. At the top I took some great photos and made a few phone calls. I then reversed my path back down Half Dome and back to the John Muir Trail. As I made my way to the valley I passed crowds of people making their way to North Dome. I took the time to chat with many of them. All of them would ask me, “how much further”. After a long day of hiking in the sun I made it to the Valley floor. I was able to shower, eat pizza, and grab a few beers! This is always a great way to finish a trip. I have had the blessing to hike a majority of the east coast. However, noting compares to hiking out West.
Erika's Alaska Trip
Last Updated on October 04, 2012 Written by The Backpackers Shop
My trip to Alaska last month was probably my favorite to date. There is just no place like it ON EARTH if you love the great outdoors. My friend Katie and I flew into Anchorage and spent a day and a half hiking around and adjusting to the 4 hour time change. We then headed down on the Kenai Peninsula to the Homer Spit where we camped. What a great little fishing town... and the view from our campsite with water on both sides, surrounded by mountains, was truly breathtaking at sunrise. After our time in Homer, we headed up north, and did some hiking. Later we went to Silverton and camped in the pouring rain and high winds (thank you Sierra Designs for keeping us warm and dry).
The next morning we drove up to Six Mile Creek (Chugach Outdoor Outfitters) and did some whitewater rafting. What an AWESOME whitewater trip - one of the best I've ever done. The practice swim in the 35 degree glacial river wasn't my favorite, but totally worth it for the awesome rapids we did that day. The next day we ended up in Seward and hiked up to the Exit Glacier... we also did a boat tour on Resurrection Bay. We saw glaciers in Kenai Fjords National Park, orcas, humpback whales, puffins, sea lions, otters, and even jellyfish. That evening we did the LONG drive up to Denali National Park and stayed outside the park that night.
The next day we had tickets on the 10am camper bus into Denali Park. The 6 hour drive on the camp road (with 6 grizzly sightings!) was TOTALLY worth it when we got out at our final destination - Wonder Lake. We were so excited for our 3 days of hiking/camping in the park. We set up camp and went on our first hike. Denali is not like other parks - it is 6 million acres of wilderness - and no trail maps. A little scary at first thinking about what might happen if we got lost, but after our fist few hikes, we realized it was unlike anywhere we'd ever been. Wonder Lake is also not far from the McKinley river and has phenomenal views of Mt. McKinley (or Denali as they say in Alaska). Despite the minute to minute weather changes from sun... to rain... to snow... to freezing rain... we had a cold, but fabulous time there. Because we were there only days before the park closes for the season, we barely made it out of the park before they closed the roads due to snow. After leaving Denali, we headed up to the Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks... best decision ever... perfect way to spend the afternoon after days of hiking. We checked out Fairbanks the next day and then headed back to Anchorage. It was so sad to leave... but I know I will definitely go back!
Check out our facebook for more pictures from the trip!
Driving on the Turnagain Arm
Denali Park - Near the Entrance
Fall Apparel Arriving Daily
Last Updated on September 16, 2012 Written by Tom
Be sure to stop in soon and check out all of our new Fall Apparel and Footwear! We have received most of our shipments already, including Patagonia, North Face, Arc'teryx, Mountain Hardwear, Royal Robbins, Sorel, Ugg Boots, and many more! Also be sure to stop in and check out our great looking clothing from Kuhl, Mountain Khakis, Prana, Royal Robbins, Arborwear, and Lole just to name a few. Fall is just around the corner, so stop in while the selection is at its best!