May 16, 2010

Systems Check

With only a few days left before we leave for Denali, Dane and I thought it would be a good idea to do an overnight trip to check out the various systems we plan to bring on Denali (stoves, tent, camp shoes, clothing layers, etc.).  We chose to do this trip in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, an area where I have been many times, but entered from the west (something I've never done) with the ultimate destination of Lone Eagle Peak.

Lone Eagle Peak

The weather apparently did not understand what we were trying to accomplish as it snained (a combination of snow and rain) on us pretty much the whole time.  This warm and wet weather couldn't have been more opposite from what we expect to encounter on Denali.  Nonetheless, we had fun and accomplished what we wanted to.  The system I am most excited about: camp shoes/booties.  From inside to outside this system consists of: warm socks, down booties, 1/3 inch foam footbed, and overboots.  I think my feet will be warm and happy when I'm not in my ski boots.

Cherokee Peak

As for the trip itself, we hiked about 4 miles with skies on our backs due to lack of snow, then skied another 5ish miles before setting up camp near the base of Cherokee Peak.  The next day we hiked up a little further to the base of Lone Eagle Peak where we got some amazing views for a few minutes before the mountain disappeared in heavy snow.  The return trip to the car was uneventful and good practice for skiing with a heavy pack.

Dane crossing one of the several bridges on the way up the trail

I was super impressed with the ruggedness of the west side of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, which I found dramatically different than the east side.  The rock formations are reminiscent of those I've seen in the Winds and Tetons of Wyoming; rising abruptly and seeming to hover directly above you.

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