Saturday, July 11, 2009

Waterfalls Canyon Trip

Every day is a new adventure here in the Hole.  This weekend was no exception.  

Josh had a long weekend off work, so he headed to the lake to put around on the Wailer.  I had to work Wednesday until 8, so I told him I would meet him up there early Thursday morning. Wednesday night around 9 or 10, he calls (from the boat) to tell me to plan on backpacking, we're going to do Waterfalls Canyon, which sits between Eagle Rest Peak and Ranger Peak, just to the North of Mt. Moran.  "Okay!" I said cheerily and started repacking my pack for lightweight travel rather than luxury lake-side "boat camping."  

Thursday morning I get up early and head for the park.  Josh and Sherba were out fishing with another friend who works at Signal Mountain Lodge, so I told them to take their time, I was going to lie out.  I sat by the lake at Spalding Bay for about an hour or so, reading, catching a tan and just relaxing.  The boys came to get me, Sherba went home and Josh and I headed out to meet up with Pete and Abby, friends of Josh's, for our hike.  With "Team PBR" all accounted for, we crossed the lake to the base of the mountain to begin our hike.  (if you would like to follow along, click here in a new window and look for Mt. Moran- across from Colter Bay Village, head North a touch and locate Wilderness Falls... from there direct line towards Colter Bay was out route)

Here's a picture of our hike from about mid-way up.  The white stuff (snow) dead center of the picture is about where our camp site was.

Upon first glance, the worst part of the hike was going to be the change in elevation.  Jackson Lake sits at about 6500 feet, Columbine Cascade, where we camped is at 8,000 feet and Wilderness Falls is at 9,400.  Upon arriving at our "dock" we were swarmed with mosquitoes, so we high tailed it up the mountain and record speed.  Once we got out of the mosquito territory, we entered bushwhacking territory.  Eventually, though, we found some semi-flat ground and set up camp.  

We made dinner, drank a couple of PBRs and went to sleep.  The next morning, we woke up bright and early, packed up base camp and went for a day hike up to see Wilderness Falls. 

There was some climbing involved... 

Abby and I kept up with the boys for as long as we could, but we got to the top of Columbine Cascade and noticed that there was some class 4 scrambling that I was comfortable with going up, but knew I would not be so comfortable with on the down climb, so we decided to wait for them about a mile before Wilderness Falls.  I was bummed that I could not see it in person, but I sent Josh with my camera.   The entire time he was gone I was not sure if I was more nervous that he would fall, or drop my camera ;).

The boys came back, cameras in tow and we headed back down to base camp.  Downhill scrambling is super fun! You just get down low and crab crawl the whole way down.  My arms are SORE!! 
We did have a great view for the down-scramble though...

Once at base camp, we loaded up full packs and headed out, thinking this time we would go high and try and miss some of the brush and forest that we hit on the way in.  We found a game trail and cruised for the first mile or so and then hit some seriously THICK growth.  I was not sure if I was stepping on ground or bushes, all the while holding onto poor saplings and bushes trying to keep from tumbling down the side of the mountain.  I will spare you the details of my minor mid-(non)trail breakdown and skip to the end... we made it! Down through the thick, through the thin, through the burn area, through the SWARMS of mosquitoes and to the BOAT!!!

We coined the term "Reverse Normandy," stormed the boat and took off at full throttle (about 8 miles an hour) headed for Leek's Marina- we desperately deserved pizza and beer after that one! 
by the way, although I HIGHLY recommend Chacos for hiking on trails in the summer time, I do not recommend hiking in Chacos when you are off trail...

Well there you have it, my Epic adventure up Waterfalls Canyon.  And as a side note, today Josh and I ran into an old friend of his, who claimed that he attempted the same hike and turned back.  SO, I am feeling VERY accomplished and proud of my physical and mental ability to climb mountains!  


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