Monday, June 15, 2015

A-Mazing Around In Utah

While there are various mountain ranges within Utah's reach, for me, the Canyon Country is what makes the state so attractive, so special. With 5 National Parks, various National Monuments, National Forests &  BLM land - its truly a year-round hiking/biking/climbing/canyoneering/water & snow sporting kind of paradise. Several years ago I backpacked through the Grand Gulch in Utah's southeast corner. The colors and sights, sounds and silence of the desert surprised me, delighted me, and I and vowed to come back for more...

The Plan
With the web and a few aging Utah guidebooks in hand, I landed on an idea that enticed me: backpacking in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park. I had never been to Canyonlands, so that was a plus. The Maze is known as a more remote area than other parts of the park, which generally means it's less frequented and you can choose where & when you want to camp within your permit timeframe, another plus! It's also a big enough area that one can explore for 5-6 days easily, extending my total vacation time to 9 days. So I came up with a map of possibilities and started to shop the idea around to a few friends. After settling on who was interested, I laid out the trip plan a little more carefully, which looked like this:

The Maze - Area of Backpack

Day 0:  Fly in SLC, drive to Green River, camp overnight
Day 1:  Drive from Green River > Goblin Valley SP (day hike Bell & Little Wild Horse Canyon & Goblin SP area)
Day 2:  Drive into GCRA, check in at HF Ranger Station. Drive to North Point, begin backpack:  
North Point Camp > Maze Overlook Camp (14.1 mi )
Day 3: Maze Camp> 1st Interior Maze Camp (3 mi) plus a day hike to Harvest Scene (~2 mi)
Day 4: 1st Interior Maze Camp > Shot/Water Canyon Camp (~9 mi)
Day 5: Shot/Water Camp > 1st Interior Maze Camp (9 mi)
Day 6: 1st Interior Maze Camp > North Point Camp (14.1 mi)
Day 7: Drive out, head home

After revealing the plans to each trip member - the idea was a plan! We bought plane tickets, reserved permits and campgrounds... we were going to Utah:)

Cast of Characters
Sweep: Head of Back-End Tech Support & Can Do Itness (she's got your back!)
My Little Pony: Chief Documentor of Photography, Video & Audio
Tutti Frutti: Head of the Joyusness Dept, Winner of Best Dressed in the West
Hollywood: Trip Instigator/Organizer & Director of Gourmet Foods

Cast of Characters

I like to choose my backpacking partners carefully. I want to be surrounded by those I can trust & rely have strengths in the qualities I lack (details is one, height is another, of many). After thinking a bit and asking around, the end result turned out to be 4 fantastic women backpackers. Never before had we backpacked with only a group of women, so it was a bit of a social experiment. My mind circled around the fact that 1 of these people I had never hiked with, and knew only by name before Skyping by phone about the trip. Would we get along? Sweep and I had only backpacked together once, long ago. Would our paces compliment one another? Would we gel? All were mysteries, bouncing around in our heads, about to be discovered.

Utah has an interesting geological history. Just to give you an idea, it used to have beachfront property on it's west side about 570 million years ago, it later had Inland Sea on it's east side, and the lower right quadrant was lifted up by action under the Earth crust to form a huge, high desert plateau, while many mountain ranges formed on either side. That plateau, many millions of years later, known as Colorado Plateau, is where you can find many of the most interesting slot canyons, arches, goblins, buttes, slick rock, and beautiful desert formations in southeast Utah. Canyonlands National Park, and therefore the Maze, is located right in the middle of this very plateau. Millions of years of erosion by wind and water, has helped to deepen and enlarge the canyons, make new formations, and break down older ones.

Pooling rocks

Dripping Rocks

Terrain + Teamwork
After arriving late on Friday night, we warmed up on Saturday with a 9 mi slot canyon day hike near Goblin Valley State Park, in the San Rafael Swell, which well worth stopping for a day hike or overnight. Bell & Little Wildhorse Canyon is popular loop hike in the area, especially with families, as its the perfect place for kids to explore. Us adults loved it too, with lots of little ups, downs and narrow walls of swirling colors. We also climbed around and over the Goblins closer to the campground, a layer of eroding Entrada sandstone, etched away after years of time by water to form bizarre shapes and characters. Everyone got along swimmingly on the hike, we ate out afterwards and purchased the soon to be known "bling" hats, a trademark on our backpack. We camped overnight at the Goblin Valley SP Campground, which is quite spacious, offering hot showers in the bath house, and little, clear glass shelters with a roof and picnic table for eating at. Free range camping can be had on the west side of the Wildhorse Butte, just outside the state park border.

Little Wild Horse Canyon

Does this Goblin make my Butte look big?

On Sunday morning we made the 1.5 hour drive to Canyonland's Hans Flats Ranger station. Showing our permit with map in hand I asked for a "sanity check" on our itinerary and checked on the water situation. Lucky for us, we arrived Friday night in Salt Lake in a pouring rain. While rain might not be a welcome site on the first day of a vacation, for us it was a true blessing. The Western US has been in a 3 year drought, desert included, and all this recent rain meant plenty of water in our camp locations. This meant we didn't have to carry 6-7 liters of water everyday - just our first our last days.

The ranger listened to my itinerary story carefully, looked us over, and said our plan was doable, and then cautioned us saying "You may not cover all the mileage you think you can" so you just need to be aware of that, and may need to alter your plans. We looked puzzled and started making guesses. "Is it the sand, is it slow to walk in?", a friend asked. "Noooo...", the ranger replied. "Could it be the heat?", I asked. "It might slow us down?". "Nooo...", the ranger said again, her voice trailing off. Another guess or two and we were stumped. "What is it?" we asked. "The terrain", said the older ranger, "it might be a little challenging". She reached under the counter and pulled up a photo book and began flipping through old snapshots of people hiking the Maze Overlook trail, a 0.8 mi section of trail I had read about. "Oh that..." I said, trying not to sound surprised. I had read all about this in the guidebooks and seen photos in other people's blogs. I knew about it, and I had estimated plenty of time to hike that portion already. I had sent my friends writeups of the hike, so they had read about it too, and everyone knew we were bringing rope to help lower our packs in tight spots where we had to take them off. My friends peered at the books. None seemed too surprised, except Tutti Frutti. She stared at the pics, mouth slightly ajar. "You'll be fine, you're with your friends, you'll help each other out", said the ranger directly to TF." You're all experienced backpackers, it will be fine." she said to us all with a smile. True 'dat.

Backpacking into the Maze
Nuts and Bolts formation
In the end, the rangers were right of course. Parts of the hike were a challenge, mentally and physically. The 14 mi hike from North Point, down the steep slope of the North Trail Canyon and onto the flats of the Elaterite Basin, was easy hiking. But the 0.8 mi hike down the Overlook Trail was just as advertised, tricky at times due to the terrain, but very much doable. The size of your backpack could determine your challenge level. If you had a large pack, the more often you needed to remove it for the trickier moves, up or down. The smaller your pack, and the lighter, the less often you need to remove it, and the easier it was to get around. Despite the variation in pack size, we all took of our packs to get through tight squeezes, small "birthing" holes and past some tricky ledges.

A little "scramble"

The Moki steps, hand and foot holds carved into stretches of rounded or hard to friction-click rock faces, were a fun challenge. Going down them, you had to turn around, face the rock, and search around for the first foothold, the second and so on, till you finished. Who made the Moki steps is unknown, the previous canyon dwellers? A desert mystery to ponder.

Series of Moki Steps

The trail up Water Canyon and Shot Canyon were not without it's challenges, from strange stone steps that looked like a native ruin, to a short 5.4 rock climb up and out of Water Canyon.

These moments, while challenging and a cause for pause, were one of the highlights of the trip. Everyone made their way through these moments very well - but not without some hauling up & down of packs, assistance with hands and foot holds, and taping up a few ripped pairs of pants. We learned to work together, smoothly and efficiently, and had a ball doing it!
Shot Canyon staircase, watch that first step!

Shot Canyon staircase
One of my favorite moments came when Tutti Frutti, who often asked for hand and foot directions on the tricky spots, was feeling confident & strong to help direct MLP when she asked for help on a particularly scary ledge. It was nice to see the change in just a matter of days... from needing direction to offering confident directions of her own.

Hollywood lowers the packs to Sweep

UP we go!

MLP and TF in a bowl

TF and her "monster" pack. Time to come off.
All in for The Squeeze
And we're through!

Camp Life
Some of the most beautiful campsites I've had the pleasure of sleeping at have been in the desert. Our favorite camp on this trip, we named it Shangri-La, consisted of a table and 4 chairs made of flat, red rocks from a nearby wash. There was plenty of much-needed shade area, and room for about 4 tents with places to hang our food, tired socks and other items. Someone had time and good fun making that campsite -  and we fully enjoyed the opportunity - twice! We also found a nice campspot in Shot Canyon in a shallow cave, not far from the stream. This site offered the unique opportunity to listen to the evening serenade of frogs, hopping in the water, while chirping loudly at one another for hours. We sat in our own silence as we listened to the frogs, amazing by their volume, too dark to see... but their presence was clear. The quietness of the desert (aside from the frogs) is one of my favorite highlights. In the day, the sudden flap of a raven's wings startles you as it flies above. A rustle in the sage can make you jump with it's sharpness. A rock tumbles a 1/4 mi away and you hear it clearly, clacking crisply to the next ledge and out of sight.

Campsite with a sweet view
Shangri-La Camp
Shangri-La Camp

The lack of dampness is a welcome treat, coming from a place where cloudy skies &  2-3 days of straight rain is not an unusual forecast. The abundance of water at home does have a few advantages, and the need for water carries of 7 liters is unheard of in New England! The desert's lack of water adds to the challenge, as it can limit your period of time out, may alter the timing of your trip, or the trip location, as you search for the most reliable sources. Springs come and go, as they dry up seasonally, or can suddenly appear with a good dose of rain. We were lucky to have water at every spring we planned for. I tried a new gravity filter (Platypus GravityWorks 2L) all all our water spots. I loved the instantaneous clean water, the simplicity and hands-off ease. If you're base camping or prefer not to use chemicals, I would recommend it (for groups, try the 4L version).

Desert Desserts

Molten Chocolate Happiness
A trip with 4 women would not be complete without unusually high amounts of chocolate and/or dessert. From previous trips I knew a decadent treat would serve everyone well, so I picked up a few items from Pack It Gourmet, including Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes. We were able to finagle the Jetboils with river stones to make ourselves a steamer system. In 10-15 minutes time, we had 4 warm & oozing chocolate cupcakes to devour - plus a bunch of leftover batter! Other well-tested items from this fine food maker includes Moonshine Margaritas, salsa and bean dip... and the Shepard's Pie is truly outstanding (and perfectly suited for 2 people).

Flora + The Lizard

Desert Blooms
Spring in the desert is a magical time, full of flowering cactus and other desert blooms. A new flower for me was seeing the Evening Primrose, which stands on it's own, looking fragile as it waves it big, white flower above the dry soil. Its petals are soft, delicate and bright, as smaller, yet-to-bloom heads hang limply from the stem. We saw many Claret Cups, bright red and often seen in huge clusters on top of a cactus. Cryptoboilic soil can be seen everywhere; this soil, crusty and alive with bacteria, lichens and mosses, hold the soil in place, keeping the desert full of sage and flowers, and from becoming a land of sand dunes. Little Northern Plateau lizards were scattering themselves to sun on rocks, or fleeing our presence, dashing into the shade. Much of the wildlife goes unseen here, unless you stand vigil overnight. Kit foxes, coyotes, Bighorn Sheep, rodents, snakes and scorpions all roam this land, though we only saw the traces of them... footprints and burrowing holes in the sand.

Art + Culture

Horseshoe Canyon Rock Art

Fat cat


We also visited areas where the early canyon dwellers made their mark. We saw artwork from the Pueblo and Basketmaker periods, including both pictographs (paintings) and petroglyphs (drawings/engravings) on the walls using the minerals and materials in the world around them. The size and diversity were a wonder to look at, from the life size figures of the Great Galley, to a funny fat cat on a nearby wall. The Alcove Gallery, a great big amphitheater, was unfortunately marred with lesser-inspired markings of the much later, modern man period (BTW: "Nick was here"). A volunteer ranger stood in the shade by the Great Gallery and helped explain some mysteries of these paintings. A box with heavy binoculars inside allowed for a closer look, as the galleries were almost always far out of reach and hard to see in detail with eyes alone. No one is really sure why the artwork was made, or why it was placed out of reach, or how they got up there in the first place! Yet another series of desert mysteries.

Wrap Up

IN the end, this trip went off without a hitch, which amazed me at times, knowing all the questions and uncertainties of unknown personalities, water availability and terrain. We had an amazing adventure together, and before it was over, was thinking up plans for another week of backpacking together. We were happy to traverse the sometimes challenging terrain without issue and even ahead of schedule! Thank you Utah for having us - hope to be back again soon.

Bling Hats shine in the desert sun

- All photos used by permission, taken by E.Grinnell,  J.LePage &  J.Varney.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Hike+Bike Franconia

The Pemigewasset Wilderness from Mt. Lafayette

Multisport Combo
 While I'm an avid hiker, I loooove biking on my road bike. There's a freedom to flying around on smooth bike paths and roads, quickly, cleanly, and under the power of your own body. It's a fun way to get around, see new things and use different routes, or... see same route by car but differently, slower. Something about the inbetween speed of faster than a walk, but slower than a car seems like the right speed for me.

Trip route and elevation (milage is a bit off)
My recent weekend adventure combined my love for hiking and the thrill of biking together. The first half started with an almost full Franconia Traverse, hiking from Lincoln Woods Visitor Center on the Kancamagus Highway, up and over the peaks of Flume, Liberty, Little Haystack, Lincoln and Lafayette, and down to Lafayette Place parking area on RT 93 (13.5 mi), where I locked my bike earlier that morning (see route map). This hike was partly a prep hike for a Presidential Traverse Day Hike in 3 weeks time, as well as little trainer for a 50 mi bike ride the following week. It seemed like the perfect way to train for both adventures!

First By Foot
The trip really started at 4:30am when I left Boston for NH. Three hours later I started hiking from the Lincoln Woods Visitor Center parking lot in Lincoln, NH. I hiked alone, hardly seeing a soul, until a group of 8 or 10 guys, all about 30 feet apart, walked by opposite me on the Lincoln Woods Trail, finishing a group backpacking trip. I popped in some earbuds in and prepared to listen to a 78 song playlist as I turned onto the Osseo Trail to head uphill. I don't normally listed to music when I hike, but it was helpful to keep my mind off the effort of the uphill, as I sing along with some favorite tunes, new and old.

Ladders Up Flume, not bike-able:)
Flume was the first summit of the day. This morning it had hazy views, the skies were cloudy, and  3 people sat on the exposed ridgeline, who might have been camping there overnight. I passed them by to visit Mt. Liberty, a favorite summit of mine, and met a nice young couple w/a dog atop. I sat for about 5-10 min, drinking water, eating an apple and fig bars. But it was windy and chilly, so I carried on to Little Haystack. At the junction of Liberty Spring and the FR Trail, I was surprised to bump into a hiking friend Angelia, May Lee and a hiking friend of theirs. We chatted about our hikes, wished each other luck and soon parted ways. I carried on past Little Haystack and the crowds that were accumulating and sat instead just below the summit of Lincoln, out of the wind. Its a lovely spot where the mountain edge meets the trail, and drops off precipitously, the valley and highway far below. I inhaled a piece of pizza, another granola bar and a 1/2 liter of water. I popped up on Lincoln and stopped briefly to watch the clouds zoom over the ridgeline. Lafayette was barely visible through the clouds from here, but I was hopeful it would pop out soon, it was almost noon.

View of Cannon Cliff from Liberty

Franconia Ridge Trail - Mt Liberty
View from Lafayette
Soon enough I was up on Lafayette, looking for a place out of the wind and away from the usual crowds to eat lunch. I had just settled in when I turned to see another friend leading a group and  coming my way. Fred and I chatted a bit about our hikes and seeing his favorite mountain flowers and hearing his favorite mountain birds, a welcome sign of spring and the summer to soon follow. I enjoyed the newly visible sun and views for the next 30 min before picking up to make my way to the Greenleaf Hut. No Croo was to be found behind the counter, but they had left numerous cookies and other goodies for people to buy. I left the lovely hut behind and turned onto the Old Bridal Path. It had been many years since I hiked up or down this pleasant route, fairly gentle for it's entire 4.0 miles to the road. Near the end, it stops off at Walker Brook, were about 4 women had stopped to wash up on this now warm, sunny day. I popped out of the woods into the parking just before 3pm, found my bike, and began the second leg!

Inside Greenleaf Hut

Greenleaf Hut and Franconia Ridge

View from inside hut (ridge & pond)

Second by Bike
The ride was portion awesome! The Franconia Notch Recreational Bike Path runs about 20 mi from the northern terminus at the Skookumchuck Trailhead on RT 93 (Exit 35) to its southern terminus at the Flume Gorge Visitor Center (Exit 34A). The path is narrow, in lots of shade, almost completely downhill if taken from N to S, and runs by a river nearly the entire time - so if you do this, bring a suit & towel! This path is under-utilized by bikers, but is used by some pedestrians along the places where trailheads and tourist attractions meet the path, so just be careful of your speed, it can get away from you quickly on the bigger downhills. There is one uphill to watch for, somewhere after the Liberty Springs Trailhead and before the Flume. Other than that, you barely need to pedal. To continue to Lincoln, I pedaled down RT 3 - a road I've grown to love. RT 3 used to be THE way through the White Mountains before RT 93 was built through Franconia Notch right along side. It's still full of motels, cabins for rent, and family oriented hotels & attractions like Indian Head Hotel & Cabins and Whales Tale waterslide park. After a few miles of ogling the attractions and imagining my stay at the Indian Head Hotel & swimming in their outdoor pool, I turned off RT 3 onto Connector Rd and cycled my way via the backside of Lincoln, passing the AT thru-hiker hostel (Chet's), and a house I call the Rainbow House, an amazing, multi-color, multi-faceted huge expanse of a house, painted with care and style. Truely a sight to see! I might have also spotted Steve Smith's house, owner of The Mountain Wanderer Bookstore, due to the trailhead sign out front that said The Smiths... maybe? The ride continued along another bike path that runs on the Kancamagus Highway for just a few short miles. It too runs along a river, this time the Pemigewasset, past Loon Mountain till it spits you back out onto the Kanc, past Hancock Campground and over teh bridge to the Visitor Center.

Southern terminus of path

It was all over in a flash, just 8 hours and 40 minutes later, I was back at my car. I had been concerned about the impending thunderstorms that were forecast to come through around 4pm, so this timing was perfect and just what I hoped for. The thunderstorms never came, so I cleaned up in the visitor center restroom, drove to Lincoln and ate al fresco at Nacho's Mexican Grill. I wolfed down enchilladas, beans, rice, chips and salsa. The service here is attentive, the food is ok - nothing really outstanding. But on this day, at this time, it was damn good!! I finished the day buying a new WMNF parking sticker, as mine had recently expired. A ranger had given me a ticket on my windshield as a friendly reminder:) Thanks Ranger, I got one now!

Lincoln Woods VC


Sunday, March 29, 2015

Winter Cabin Hiking in the ADKs

View From Giant
The Preamble
Most of my winter hiking has been concentrated in the areas closest to my home, including the White Mountains of NH & Maine, southern NH, the Catskills, the Berkshires, and super-locally, the Blue Hills and Middlesex Fells Reservations in MA. When my friend Emily started planning winter trips to the Adirondacks last year, she invited me along, allowing me to gain further knowledge and hiking experience in this vast, beautiful park and it's surrounding towns.

The Adironacks provide a challenge in winter (and really any time of year), with it's changable weather, steep descents between peaks and often ledgy, rocky areas that often require scrambling, ice axes, crampons, a short rope, or a mix of it all. Access into the mountains can also be a challenge, and this is where the Adirondack Mountain Club's Camps come in handy. While difficult to reserve due to their popularity, the cabins provide a heated base camp from which the High Peaks can be reached without having to brave the cold in lean-tos. This additional comfort of heat and shelter makes it well worth the low price and 1 year advance trip planning needed to secure a spot for a few weekdays. (We paid $99 pp for 3 nights, but it would cost even less if the cabin was at max capacity).

Last year was my first winter trip to the ADKs. Our group consisted of 5 experienced winter hikers from the Boston area. We stayed at a motel in Elizabethtown, NY before making our way into the difficult-to-reserve Grace Camp, a rustic, one-room cabin that sleeps six. The cabin, located 3.6 mi in from the winter parking lot in Keene Valley, NY, includes propane powered heat and lights, as well as a full kitchen where we cooked dinners and breakfast together. Our group's hiking goals included various 4,000 ft mountains within a day hike of the cabin, including  Big Slide, Upper Wolfjaw, Lower Wolfjaw and Haystack. We had a great time in generally fair weather, and afterwards I was ready to commit to another winter ADK adventure.

This year, Emily reserved the larger cabin, named Peggy O'Brien Camp. Located just a few hundred feet from Grace Camp, it provides beds for 12, features an indoor toilet as well as a full kitchen, separate bunk room, and several fantastic clothing drying systems on pulleys lowered from the ceiling. With the extra cabin space, our group grew this year to 7 hikers in all, which still allowed for lots of extra elbow room in the cabin.

Whiteface & Ester
That Sunday, four of our group mt up in NY to day hiked  to Whiteface and Ester together. It was a cool, windy day up high. While we saw many people on the sheltered trail to Ester, we saw no one else on going up or coming down from the summit of Whiteface that day. Hiking up Marble Mtn and Ester was relatively simple, with wooded summits and no view to be had on that day. The way up to Whiteface was more interesting, as we passed a chairlift and skier, finally popping out to the wind-whipped road to the summit and hiking along the ridge in 30 mph winds. The summit surprised us with its cluster of buildings, including its tall, shuttered observation tower and a mountain-shaped sign with the summit marked in feet. We hurried around for photos and movies and soon made our way down to the cars.


After our hike, we met the other 3 in our group at the Keene Valley Hostel, a perfectly good low-budget hostel for hikers and climbers in the heart of Keene Valley - home to the Noonmark Diner (great breakfasts) and nearly next door to the Garden trailhead, where we would start our walk into the ADK Cabin. The hostel runs on a self -service basis and has large kitchen, gear cubbies, laundry, showers and living room on the first floor. Upstairs is a dorm-style room with bed for 12. Not all the linens were washed that evening, so a member of our group did laundry loads of sheet and towels which we all benefited from.

Later we gathered at the ADK Cafe in Keene for one of the best meals you can get in the area. A credit card only place, the food was fantastic and prices reasonable for the quality and portions. Not only do they offer lunch and dinner, but also baked goods all day and night long! After dinner, we picked up muffins for the morning and made our way to the hostel. Do not pass through Keene hungry without stopping at the ADK Cafe (the ADK Market is great too)!

KV Hostel

Giant & Rocky
Hiking up Giant
The following morning we split into two groups; Alex and Tecla, who headed into the cabin early to hike up Big Slide, and the other 5 who hiked Giant & Rocky before heading to the cabin (including myself).

Hiking to Giant starts off  steeply from Rt 73, located just a few miles south of Keene Valley. The day was warm and sunny, a welcome difference from yesterdays' cold and wind. We walked up in Microspikes most of the way, donning snowshoes to navigate the deep drifts near the top. We met another small group up there, and after enjoying the fine views from the ledges and summit, we dropped down ~800 feet and right back up to Rocky, where additional 360˚ views greeted us - possibly seeing as far off at the White Mountains in NH. More photos and summit cookies were had, and soon we found ourselves climbing back up the steep trail to Giant and down it's sun-splashed slopes with views of the High Peaks and Dix Ranges in front of us.
From Giant

From Rocky

After our fabulous day hike, we reorganized our gear in the Garden parking lot in Keene Valley and started our walk into the cabin. Some of us brought sleds to haul in our food and hiking supplies, while others carried the weight in their backpacks. It was a well oiled group of 5 and we all soon met at the cabin, enjoying our first night of appetizers & wine from Alex, as well as a pasta dinner cooked by Emily. Tecla topped it all off with a Dutch Apple pie for dessert which she made and Alex hauled in on his massive sled. What a great group of foodies!

Peggy O'Brien Camp

Cabin Interior

Dutch Apple Pie

Basin and a Bonus
The first morning of our cabin adventure we hiked together to Basin Mtn. The weather was warm with light rain, which quickly changed to snow as the winds increased and the temperatures dropped. The hike started with a gentle uphill slope over the course of ~4 miles. After that we faced a decent uphill climb, a short downhill, and back up steeply, over a wooden ladder and ledge, and finally to a rocky summit. At that point we gathered for pictures and summit cookies and hid from the wind and blowing snow. Two of our group continued forward to tackle 4 additional peaks, including Saddleback via the cliffs, Gothics via the cables, Armstrong, Upper Wolfjaw and down. All the snow on the ground had benefited their hike where ice or exposed rock had thwarted other hikers. Their success was a great one and we were happy to see them back at teh cabin just a few hours later. Our group went back the way we came, the slightly longer and  easier way.
Hiking to Basin
Slant Rock
Emily up the steeps

Basin summit
Later that evening, we enjoyed another spread of cheese and crackers,  chicken ginger soup & bread for dinner, with leftover pie as well as new desserts by Laurie.


Alex and the apps

Our last day and night
Our final day hike from teh cabin took all of us to Upper Wolfjaw, and for some, to Armstrong and Lower Wolfjaw. It was a bitter cold day with strong winds, though the hike was mostly sheltered on all 3 peaks. We had some steep climbs over small ledges and our ice axes were useful in spots.
Upper Wolfjaw

Bundled up on Armstrong
From Upper WolfJaw, where Tecla and Laurie turned around for the cabin,  the rest of us visited  Armstrong - where additional  views could be seen. Emily and I hiked down after summitting Armstrong while Jeff, Karine and Alex went a mile further up Lower Wolfjaw and back. That night we played Bananagrams, ate our final Chili dinner cooked by Karine with various desserts, hot cocoa and the eating and drinking of everything that was still leftover.

Peggy's bunks

Drying out

Toast with dinner
ADK Pancakes
Emily cooked everyone a pancake breakfast on our last morning at Peggy O'Brien Camp. We cleaned up, packed out and were soon bounding down the trail with feather-weight sleds and lighter backpacks. It was a beautiful sunny day, a great day for more hiking (Jeff and Karine) or for a leisurely drive home (everyone else). Thank again to everyone for making this such a great trip from the food to the company and camaraderie.