2013 14er Trip – Day Two
With a big day already in our legs, the plan for day two started to feel a little ambitious. We wanted to summit Missouri and Huron from the Missouri Gulch trailhead, which we estimated to be around 22 miles. I think we may have been able to do it, if not for the bad weather. In the end it worked out for the best and we still ended up with a solid 13 mile day and one summit.
We started before dawn and took notice that the clouds were already gathering. Those clouds made for a spectacular sunrise as we made our way up the first steep pitch of forested switchbacks.
The wildflowers were loving the cool and damp weather.
We climbed steadily, still not knowing if we were in for the full distance or not. Malcolm spotted a coyote hunting at above 12,000′ so we stopped and watched it for a while. I’ve never seen one this high before.
We saw other wildlife out and about in the brief period of sunshine.
A big push up a steep headwall got us to the ridgeline where we were treated to a great view of Mt. Huron across the valley.
The plan was to ascend the drainage on the right of the photo, then take the ridge to the summit.
As the skies turned more threatening, we decided to summit Missouri and then evaluate conditions. The route to the summit was a lot of fun. Just technical enough to keep things interesting. I really would like to have lingered on this one, but it started to rain and we stayed just long enough for a pic.
I stowed the big camera due to the weather, and we made quick work out of the return trip.
The terrain sloped steeply to the west and it was a constant battle to maintain grip on the ball-bearing surface. With the rain still coming down, we decided on making the descent to Clohesy Lake and evaluating our options from there. The next summit seemed close while looking at it from just across the valley, but we knew hours of bushwhacking and boulder hopping would be in our future. I dug the camera back out for this six shot vertical panorama.
The rain continued and then began to get worse as we neared the lake. We made the call to finish the hike by descending the 4 miles to the trailhead to close our loop and would leave Huron for another time.
As we neared the finish of our hike, we came to a fairly swift moving stream that we needed to cross. Even though it had been raining, our shoes were still not that wet and for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to take them off for the crossing. I have never done that before, and doubt if I ever will again. Stepping on small sharp rocks with bare feet in the freezing cold water was excruciating. As a bonus, I got to do even more hiking on rocks when I got to the other side in order to retrieve one of my shoes that I had thrown across. The other hit an embankment and had nearly tumbled back down into the river.
I finally made it back to the water’s edge, and took time to carefully clean off my feet. Getting my toe socks back on over wet feat was no small task. I laced everything up and started down the trail as Malcolm was finishing up. 10 seconds later I just started laughing. We were on an island! Ahead of us was another crossing about 5x longer than the one we had just traversed. Nice.
The shoes came off for this one, but when we were across I just jammed my feet in the socks without bothering to line up the toes and we trudged down the road for another mile before making it back to the car.