Thursday, June 26, 2008

Herman Gulch Trail/Mt. Machebeuf, Part II

As I alluded to yesterday, just hiking up to Herman Lake and back on the Herman Gulch Trail wasn't enough for me. So I decided to make a slight detour and summit Mt. Machebeuf on my return. This ascent looked pretty manageable -- nice saddle, gradual incline, smooth terrain. Piece of cake.

Cute little pika. He must have had a nice set of tunnels under the snow, because he'd disappear and then pop up again on another set of rocks.

The view to the north from the saddle, I believe with Hassell Lake just visible.

Unexpected snippets of trail would appear, then end after just a few yards. Tantalizing little roads to nowhere. I ended up just making my own switchbacks going up the smaller mound in front of the summit.

Trouble in the distance, with a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for "precipitation." A cold wind was blowing it right in my direction, too. Good thing I got my new windbreaker last week. It was doing me a lot of good hanging in my closet, too.

The north side of the ridge.

A more persistent trail appeared for the final push to the summit.

The last stretch was pretty steep and rocky, but clearly defined.

The precipitation arrived in the form of hail. The tiny pieces hissed and popped like radio static as they melted on my shirt.

The summit I'd been aiming for turned out, of course, to be a false summit. Fortunately the real one wasn't far off.

I looked for the USGS stamp when I got there, but couldn't find it. And it was too freaking cold to spend a lot of time searching.

I did take the time to enjoy the view to the northeast, though.

The descent proved to be much quicker. I just yelled "As you wish!" and hurled myself down the embankment.

Because I'm a glutton for punishment, here's another wildflower I can't definitively identify. Purple fringe?

The descent actually wasn't that fast at all. I needed to be pretty careful on the steep slope. This is the dizzying view about halfway down.

This climber apparently didn't make it.

The view back up what I'd just scrambled down. I was nuts to even consider climbing UP this way earlier.

Five hours up and down, with nowhere near enough water and just an Odwalla bar for food. The quart of Gatorade I picked up in Georgetown thankfully took care of my dehydration. Next time I think about extending a hike, I need to be sure I've got plenty to drink and appropriate attire. Sort of like going to a wedding reception.


James O. Clark said...

Steve, classic story as I too did the same thing once before. I was with my brother-in-law heading back from a trip in Utah, when we were stopped in traffic on I-70, early in the day too.

Being somewhat stupid, we decided to get off the 70 and hike Herman Gultch.

It was totally gorgeous. We had only one water bottle and little bit of trail mix.

We didn't get over crazed and do Machedeuf, but it was awesome.

Now every time I fly by on 70 ad look into the parking lot at the trailhead, I'm reminded of how beautiful it is.

SteveHarbula said...

Pulling off 70 for a hike definitely sounds better than sitting in traffic. Unfortunately, I'm usually stuck in traffic coming back from skiing and there was enough snow on the trail for me in June. :)