Every summer my partner and I embark on a bike-pack trip that lasts like 4 days. Last year we did the Beartooths (Part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5). This year we planned to head into the Crazy Mountain Range and do a trip up the Rock Creek drainage and to two lakes around Iddings Peak.
At first we did meet difficulties like trail access due to much of the “Crazies” being surrounded by public land (rich f’ers). And magical parts of forest service land being sold to some entity that needed to build a summer camp. But after zig zagging the complex maze of private or unknown land accesses we were finally in open meadows going up Rock Creek towards Rock Lake. Adventure in our eyes and relief that the tough part was behind us.
We started hitting sections were the trail was gone. Washed out in huge piles of rubble and rock. It looked like a mountain blew up and fell down across our path. We scrambled up and over dozens of these rock slides. We assumed they were results of huge flash floods off of the peaks that one farmer deemed as “tin roofs” … being they just shed everything that fell upon them. Good thing for GPS.
But between the slides we enjoyed the scenery and relaxed grade. Open meadows afforded us beautiful views surrounding us and soon Iddings Peak started to come into view. Not to say it was all bliss. We ran into rouge cattle. Yea, mountain cattle. Were they escapees from a ranch far below? Or does the Forest Service allow the destruction of land by letting ranchers graze their cattle in alpine regions? Whatever the case cattle had turned pristine beautiful land into mosh pit bogs of shit, pee, and muddy post holes. Truly disgusting. I secretly wished a grizzly would ambush and feed off these convicts. And share with us some meat for tonight’s fire of course.
It was nice to finally climb for the only reason that the cattle were to lazy to rock climb. Yea, rock climb. And scree scrambling. And yes we still had our bikes. Which made us wonder what the hell we were thinking. Maybe a better solution would be to carry an empty pack, ditch the bikes, and hike the remaining three miles. But wait, this was a bike-pack trip … damn it.
After an hour of pushing the bikes would go no further. So I picked up the damn 50 pound anchors and hiked them in 20 minute extreme intervals. Being the person I am I took great pride in my feats. I was doing core and burst training all in one. And then I ran out of gas. In one case my last surge to lift the bike onto a rock shelf failed resulting in a tweaked back. Ouch!
After a huge effort we made our way to an area that seemed to be letting up. As my head turned up the valley I could see we were still very far away from our destination. Sure it was like a quarter mile. But it was a quarter mile of rock fields, scree slopes, and creek crossings. Not a chance in hell to ride these bikes. And at the end … another steep pitch.
I found my partner looking down into a deep chasm.
“Thank god we don’t have to cross this”, she remarked and looked to me in hope I had some good news.
“Good news is that we can camp here, bad is that we still have like a hour of hard work to do and the sun is setting.”
I think she said to do whatever I wanted. Or something like that. Maybe it was go straight to hell. And maybe that is why I decided to go to hell and hike the bikes another quarter mile. Our feet were cold and wet and our bikes seemed like dysfunctional baggage. It was like pushing your car to work instead of just walking. No, really, it was.
“I am going to go into a zone and not stop until I place my bike down at the lake.”
“OK”, she had a puzzled look.
“Then I’ll come down to give you a hand.”
“OK”, again with a puzzled look. Or maybe she was contemplating making a run for it. To escape this insanity and never come back. She looked as though she wanted to bolt. I turned, shoulder my bike and headed up the cliff.
The last pitch was almost to much and the only sane thing that kept me engaged was the beautiful waterfalls around each corner. Finally I broke above the cliff and scampered across a rocky saddle. The sun about to set was casting a red glow on Iddings Peak.
I dropped my bike not caring if it was harmed. I just wanted the damn thing off my back. I turned to go help my partner but she was hot on my heels and stopped to look up at me. I did not see any hint of smile on her face so I did the only thing I could do. Act silly and clown around.
“I will NEVER do this again”, she stated and then walked past me.
I decided to leave it alone and went looking for a tent spot. It was going to get dark quickly and this place was spooky. It was like … camping at the Butte Pit.