Sunday, January 22, 2012

Snow hike in Right Fork

Well, it looks like winter is FINALLY here. And about darned time, I say.

Bruce, RJ and I decided to go out and celebrate by hiking about four miles up Right Fork Canyon yesterday, right into the teeth of the blizzard. We had an absolute ball - smiles all around, when we didn't have our heads down trying not to get sandblasted by the wind and blowing snow. The blizzard conditions were pretty much limited to above the bench - below that, it was a beautiful, calm snowfall.

Just goes to show how variable things can be up there.

We were able to drive all the way to the Right Fork trailhead. It was obvious that the storm had started out as a slushfall - there were about three inches of slush underneath the skiff of snow that was showing. There had been no snow up there in recent weeks, so we decided to leave the snowshoes in the truck and hike it. Not a bad choice, although snowshoes would certainly have been appropriate a couple of miles in.

We crossed the creek at the higher of the two creek crossings just past the Scout Camp. The little bridge is gone, but the water is low and the rocks are placed appropriately to keep one's feet dry.

HooDoo, a favorite ice climbing destination. Don't know that it's been cold enough recently for this to be safe at the moment.

For the most part, once we got above the Scout Camp, the snow was mid-shin deep to just below the knees. It was over-the-knees in a few places.

Once we got above the bench, we were able to hike almost to the creek crossing before the blizzard really started blowing up. A good place to turn around and head back.

So beautiful up there in the winter.

We turned around right at 8600', which is a little lower than the Lamoille Canyon Road turnaround. There are still a lot of willows showing and no base to speak of.

Figured I'd stay out of the canyon today since there is bound to be a million snowmobiles, will hopefully head up to the turnaround tomorrow on my sled and see if it's skiable yet. Given the avalanche conditions, if I do ski it'll be a meadow-skipping kind of day.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Hike classifications

It's been a while since I've posted an update. I tore up my left Achilles tendon several weeks ago - how, I couldn't tell you, but likely from not being as conscientious about stretching as I could/should be. Getting old ain't for sissies, and my days of bounding out of the truck and onto the trail are likely over. Warm up first, please.

At any rate, I've gotten a bit of grief from folks for the (extremely subjective) ratings I've given some of the hikes for which I've provided beta on this blog, most particularly my most recent write-up on Griswold Lake. What's "easy" for me may be less so for other folks, and what I might consider something that should earn a "difficult" rating could be a cakewalk for another person.

Fair enough. Let's take the subjectivity out of it.

Back when I lived in Colorado, I was a member of the Colorado Mountain Club. They have tens of thousands of members and needed a workable rating system to make sure that people signed up for the hikes they were interested in and/or qualified for. Their rating system did a pretty good job in letting folks know what they were in for, so (since plagiarism is the highest form of flattery) I'm going to steal it wholesale. Not only that, but as a courtesy I'll go back and update the ratings I've given various hikes on this blog to reflect this rating system.

Fair enough?

OK, here it is, straight from the CMC website:

Hike Classifications

Hikes (including some trips that require rock-climbing skills) are normally classified as A through D:

Class A: Up to 8 miles round trip and 1200 ft. elevation gain. (Prior hiking experience is usually not necessary.)

Class B: Up to 12 miles round trip and 2500 ft. elevation gain. (Moderate to strenuous physical activity. Some prior experience is beneficial.)

Class C: Up to 15 miles round trip and 3500 ft. elevation gain. (Strenuous to very strenuous physical activity. Prior experience and training is beneficial.)

Class D: Over 15 miles round trip or 3500 ft. elevation gain. (Very strenuous physical activity often including exposure or requiring use of technical skills. Knowledge based on prior experience and training is highly beneficial.)

If you also see the letter "E" after the classification (such as C-E or D-E), the trip involves exposure (i.e., risk of falling) and may require advanced climbing skills.

Got it? That should be easy enough. Since a lot of the hikes around here require route-finding skills, I'll add an "R" after the classification to indicate that, too.

I'll put a link to this post at the bottom of my trail beta from here on out. FWIW, I pretty much considered Class A and B hikes to be "easy" hikes back in my CMC days, C hikes to be "moderate" and D hikes to be the ones most worth doing. ;)