Monday, September 29, 2008

Lost Creek Wilderness, Kick-Ass Mega-Loop

"Peak Y" (12,274')
"Zephyr Peak" (12,067')
"Peak Z" (12,244')
Payne Benchmark (11,780')
"No Payne" (11,789')
Shawnee Peak (11,927')
"Platte Peak" (11,941')
Foster Benchmark (11,871')-unranked
Mt Blaine (12,303')-unranked
N. Twin Cone Peak (12,323')

29 miles RT
7,300' gain
10 summits

With few 11ers and 12ers under my belt, I joined a group of peak bagging maniacs for a mega-loop in the Lost Creek Wilderness (LCW) on Saturday (Sept 27th). The Aspens were changing colors and the thought of undertaking such a tremendous bushwhack/tundra hike in a spectacular setting appealed to me.

Starting at 5:45am at the Long Gulch trailhead, we easily topped out on the summit of Peak Y and made our way over to Zephyr Peak. One by one the summits rolled before us. Up and down we traveled the undulating terrain, chit-chatting and catching up on each other’s lives while sharing this grand adventure.

By the time we meandered to Platte Peak, dark ominous clouds were building off in the distance. Mighty willows tried to impede our progress, however, we sucked it up and bashed through their thickets. At times our feet plunged deeply into soupy, marshy, muddy stretches of tundra.

On the summit of N. Twin Cone Peak the sky darkened and thunder began to rumble. On our way over to S. Twin Cone the sky darkened even more, as graupel tumbled down from above. Seeing successive bolts of lightening convinced me it was time to descend.

Ten summits is no slouch for a day out in the hills. S. Twin Cone (12,340’), Kenosha Peak (12,100’), “X Prime” (12,100’) – soft ranked (280’ prominence) and “Peak X” (12,429’) would have to wait until another day.

Bob and I descended the Rock Creek drainage, which challenged our navigational skills in the disappearing daylight. We eventually met up with the road for the last few miles of trudging back to camp. We arrived at 9:00pm for a 15.25-hour day. After some chocolate brownies and beer it was time for sleep. Another great day out in the hills.