I have been back now for almost a week and finally have decided to take a look back to one of the best back packing trips I have ever taken. Paul and I embarked on a trip to the Crazy Mountain Range last Tuesday and I don”t think I could of guessed that the adventure would be this interesting. The idea was to spend 3 days and three nights in the Crazies and try to climb one peak. I think collectively we mentally decided on Crazy Peak since it was the tallest peak at over 11 thousand feet. Here are my accounts:
Tuesday the 10th – Travel Day: I awoke Tuesday morning to Paul”s phone call and he said that he thought we could leave before noon so I started to pack. I originally wanted to do a mountain bike ride but if we could actually get to the trail head before dark I was excited.
I was packed in about an hour and a half and the plan was to leave by 11 AM. 11 came and went and I packed the car. 11:30 I became upset, I could of done a ride and been back and ready before now. I fell asleep in my car waiting.
Paul awoke me and we crawled out of town at an unbearable pace. Then once on the road we had to stop for gas and that took quite awhile because of a road closure due to construction. i was furious. Hell we wouldn’t even get to grandma”s to drop off one car and my dog until dark. Pissed off or not I continued and finally we reached grandma”s house. I wanted to stay at grandma”s house because it was already getting dark. Paul wanted to go and camp at our original planned spot in the Half Moon Campground. I decided to go with Paul”s idea … otherwise I would of missed the family reunion later on due to being a day behind.
We arrived at the campground real late, paid the fee, and fell asleep. I awoke to a mountain staring down at me. Wow, what a sight, I thought to myself. I wanted to get going but realized that I was hiking with someone. I would try to do things as slow as possible so as to not seem to be waiting all the time. Slow down and smell the roses … and watch them grow. And grow … then die. ok, that”s what it seems like waiting for me.
Wednesday the 11th – Backpacking Day: We hiked up the hiking/pack trail that heads West up Big Timber Creek. Along the way we noted several great waterfalls. At about tree miles we found the cut off to hike up to Blue Lake. We climbed the switchbacks that were the best ones I have hiked to date. It was made for pack horses so that is why.
We arrived at some lakes. Our original goal was Blue Lake and we sought it out. Paul found quite a few spots to camp and settled on one with a great view. I had a gut instinct about a certain place and I didn’t want to camp. We mulled around and found absolutely beautiful spots. After a camping spot expedition up a drainage we found our spot. It was near a Zen garden and high enough to have great views. We hike down to our packs and returned to set up camp.
The spot was great. We decided to camp at a semi level spot below the Zen garden and use it for a dinning and relaxation spot. Little did we know the tent spot was a horror to sleep upon but the dinning area was awesome. It was a great place to wake up in the morning and a great place to contemplate in the evening.
Earlier we talked to two young hikers who suggested to take a certain drainage above our camp to get up and onto the ridge. We decided to take that route as it appeared that the two hikers were not geared up for a serious climb and seemed casual like it was easy. We must have ms-understood what they were talking about because the drainage we thought they were talking about would prove to be pretty extreme.
Sleep that night was horrible. The ground under the tent was lumpy and had huge pits. We had checked before but I think it was a wet area and a lot settled while sleeping upon it. There were no other options at this site. It was the most level. On night two I added filler to the pits and smoothed out the lumps.
The nights were cold and I was glad because I had a new bag and I wanted to see if the temperature rating was accurate. I would say it is. It is an awesome bag rated at 20. It is made by Slumber jack and I will get my cold bag under the same brand name.
Thursday the 12th – Summit Day: It wasn’t before noon that we set out for the summit. In the back of my mind it wouldn’t take too long. I needed some rest from not sleeping all night. I slept in the meadow overlooking the lakes and mountains and it felt good. I had taken some Excedrin because of a headache and wasn’t feeling all too stable but off to the summit we went.
At the bottom the route looked very un do-able. I got a little concerned. we agreed that we would just start up and if it seemed bad we would turn around and try another route. Before we knew it we were walking up the scree towards the chute. Right away we realized that the rock was unstable and that we would not have good strong holds. Figuring that it would get better we climbed on.
Things got harder and harder and it became apparent that we could not climb at the same time or a rock would come lose and cream one of us. We saw a canyon with snow in it. Getting to the canyon would be lose and difficult but once we got there, we figured. Once we got there it would get better.
Just getting to the canyon seemed difficult. Things that looked solid would fall away and tumble to the scree below. It was difficult enough to get to the canyon for us to agree it was time to turn around. Paul finally reached it and I took twice as much time to reach it. I had to take chances to just skirt over to where he was. We did not turn and go back down because once up the canyon it would get better.
It did not get better. the canyon walls were not secure and the snow was slippery and made going slow. Most of all … it was getting steeper as we went. We did not realize it though. At one point Paul upset some rocks that whizzed by me. The situation was bad but … we figured it must get better.
We were crazed lunatics and I don”t know why. It would get better is the theme and we just kept going up. The pitch got steeper. I knocked a rock loose and it did not bounce a little ways and it did not slide down … IT FELL, then hit the walls of the canyon smashing violently before slamming to the valley below. We suddenly realized that there was no turning back now. Things got quiet.
I stopped looking for solid holds and took chances. I had to as I could not just spend any more time in this situation. It was terrifying. When I felt I couldn”t go fast I built steps in the loose rock strewn mess to get my mind off the situation and to feel like I was making progress. I knew it wasn”t going to get better. It was going to get worse and I prayed for some hope. A sign that we were doing this for a reason and not to just die. Suddenly we saw a end to the situation and scrambled to the top of the ridge line.
This was not the hope I was asking for. This was on the ridge true enough but the way we came was not as bad as some of the other options. On the other side was Crazy Lake and the barren landscape that surrounded it. That option would require a decent down the same stuff as we came up but not as long or steep … except for the cliffs at the bottom.
Paul scaled the rock wall to the left immediately and shouted that it was easy from this point on. I ignored him as he always puts a spin on things. To the left was another rock climb but what was beyond could not be seen. I imagined it a steep rock ridge with sheer cliffs on both sides. I sat down and started to panic. Paul was getting impatient at my inability to climb to his perch but screw him I thought. The world doesn”t spin for him … for me everyday I deal with some slight sense of vertigo and today was a bad one probably because of too much sleep.
Paul was going to go towards the summit and had me convinced after a while that it was too bad. I stammered around an edge and climbed to where he was perched. By this time he was rock hopping up the ridge showing me “How Easy” it was. Once again putting a spin on it all. I looked at the ridge line and could tell that it got worse and the climb would be difficult. I did not want to continue and just wanted to get back to the spot at where I just rested. As I climbed down I told him to go on without me.
Paul was having a problem with my decision but by then I could care less, I wasn”t going any further. He finally took off for the ridge. I settled down in my cubby hole and started to freak out more. Things got worse and I realized that there was no way I was willing to go in any direction. I ate and drank fluids while at the same time the sun beat down and burned the hell out of me. I put on more sunscreen.
I realized that this situation was beyond what I wanted to be in at the moment and we needed to work on getting down. I figured Paul could come and climb this one with some one else and that he needed to bad his idea of going higher. I shouted up the ridge for 15 minutes but knew he couldn’t hear me because of my position. I began to think, what if he didn’t come back. Believe me this ridge looked dangerous and I really didn’t believe his chances where perfect. “Ok”, I told myself “your on your own”.
I tried the ridge down and chickened out. “Ok Ill wait for him” … “No I have to work on something” I decided to practice going around to the downward side of the ridge. I made an attempt and then came back a few times. I made myself sit for 15 minutes straight because all my activity and thoughts were driving me nuts. I just wanted to sit and relax. And I did.
I don”t know what happened. Maybe it was the food and drink that finally caught up to me. Maybe things seemed a little more balanced. When I got up and climbed around the little riser it seemed like second nature … “wow” I thought. Things seemed stable and I looked around. I saw a Karen and finally realized that I had just been given that hope I was wanting. A Karen is a pile of rocks to symbolize a route. This was the route up. Everything seemed fine from that moment on. I went back and made an arrow for Paul to see when he got back. To me this trip down was not up for debate because I was going down the sane way.
I started to go to the Karen and noticed how suddenly I was enjoying the view and finally a route. I almost could see that after years of using this route it seemed as though I could see a trail through the rocks. I took in the view and built some Karens of my own to help others that freak out like me. To the West was a sheer cliff and to the East was a crumbling pitch that went down to Crazy Lake.
At one vista point I saw Paul descending my way and snapped a picture. I was glad to see him and hoped he would see my arrow. In any case I would see him at camp. I walked the ridge and reached the low point of the ridge between Crazy Peak and another mountain to the South West. I felt positive that my instincts to follow the ridge would be the way down. I could still see signs of a route. I heard a voice and it was Paul.
I turned around and he was pointing down towards camp. “Aren”t we going down the ridge”, he asked. He wanted to go down where he figured was a way down. I answered that I am going my way and that he could go any way he wanted. No way was I going to get talked into another route. I knew the way down. He seemed upset but for once I really didn’t care how anybody felt. I was finally having a good time and I was going my way and I am glad that I did.
So instead of climbing down a technical scary ridge I enjoy a longer walk up and then around to another ridge which came down more steeply but easily manageable. Paul followed although I don”t think he wanted to. I enjoyed the views and spotted a Marmot (could of been a rock chuck but at that elevation who knows). Now that I think back it could of been a Wolverine as this place was supposed to have the largest population.
Paul boot skated down the rest of the way and I made my way down to the green alpine tundra. I had made it down and I was thinking my higher power to be there. At that point was a snow field and a lake which ran from the bottom of it. The sights was great and we took it in and rested a while.
Friday the 13th – coming Down: The trip back to camp took us over two ridges and drainage which were all spectacular. Once back at camp we sat ate and reflected. The night overcame us and we settled in for our last nights high in the Crazies.
In the morning we broke camp and headed down. Before heading down all the way we took a detour at Blue Lake. We saw some huge waterfalls on the way in and decided to go in search of them.
We hike around then down a valley for some pretty spectacular views of the Thunder Falls. I lost two pieces of my camera on the way climbing down the rocks and we only was able to retrieve one. We got thirsty because we left our water behind. we only planned a little excursion but instead it became a pretty long one. we decided to head back to Blue lake.
Once at the lake we sat and enjoyed the views. I filtered some drinking water and relaxed. Finally it was time to depart and we found this old trail that was the original one into the lakes. It took a short cut over to the switchbacks. Once there we retreated the way we came. Just before we got back to the car we decide to take a look at Big Timber Falls.
The falls were in this huge gorge and the sight was awesome. These falls are beautiful and I decided to visit them one fine rainy day for some real photography. Back at the car we packed up and went back to my grandmas but not before running into a bear and a snake on the road.
The bear was on the edge of the plains where the run into the mountains and the snake we saw on the road about 5 miles from the highway. The rattlesnake was eating a bull snake which had been ran over. When a rude woman driver ran them both aver the rattler freaked out which was quite a sight.
I have been back now for almost a week and finally have decided to take a look back to one of the best back packing trips I have ever taken. Paul and I embarked on a trip to the Crazy Mountain Range last Tuesday and I don”t think I could of guessed that the adventure would be this interesting.