Monday, May 11, 2015

Some more trip details

I've been playing around more with caltopo--what a great tool!--and I have some more information available on my trip now, including much more precise mileage and elevation gain.  What I've shown is gross elevation gain, because that's how much I have to actually climb; this isn't to indicate that I'm going to end the trip 10k feet or so above where I start, because that would be ridiculous.  It does mean that if the elevation shows 10k feet, however, that I'll be climbing that many feet, along with dropping at various points to.  Considering that I'm hiking a loop, over the course of the entire trip, needless to say, I'll have a net elevation gain (and loss, for that matter) of 0'.

Anyway, here's some stats for the trip:

Day -1: A bit of hiking as a break between driving at Scott's Bluff National Park.  I didn't measure a mileage for going out to Chimney Rock which is also nearby and which I'll also do, but hiking from the visitor's center to the top of Scott's Bluff gives the following:

  • Mileage: 1.2
  • Gross elevation gain: 535'
Just a warm-up.

Day 0: I only measured the hike from the parking lot at Bald Mountain to the summit.  The mileage is round trip; the net elevation gain is, of course, 0.
  • Mileage: 2.6
  • Gross elevation gain: 1184'
Again; more of a warm-up.  After spending the night at high elevation in the western Uintas, I'll drive early on Day 1 to the trailhead, hopefully acclimated to the altitude at this point, and will jump directly into the actual epic backpacking trip.

Day 1: East Fork Blacks Fork to Lower Red Castle Lake over the Bald Mountain Trail.
  • Mileage: 9.89
  • Gross elevation gain: 2,832'
  • Mileage for no-back exploring up to Upper Red Castle Lake and the pass: 6.94
  • Gross elevation gain: 1,725'
That adder is probably going to be killer.  Honestly, I'm not confident that we can do it after a 10 mile backpacking trip.  It may well be too late and we may well be too tired.

Day 2: Lower Red Castle Lake around the Castle to Smiths Fork Pass, over Tungsten Pass and over Porcupine Pass to the first substantial unnamed lake below Wilson Peak.
  • Mileage: 12.74
  • Gross elevation gain: 2,827'
Day 3: Lake below Wilson Peak along Highline Trail to Lambert Meadows, where we drop into the canyon, and eventually leave the trail to camp at Crater Lake in the cirque below Explorer Peak.
  • Mileage: 11.32
  • Gross elevation gain: 1,621'
Day 4: Crater Lake back to Highline Trail a little east of Red Knob Pass.  Over the pass and on to Dead Horse Lake.
  • Mileage: 7.41
  • Gross elevation gain: 2,356'
Day 5: No packs; we are not backpacking, we are staying at Dead Horse Lake.  I'd like to hop over the pass and go see Reconnaissance Lake, although that's a rather long proposition.  We'll see if I actually end up doing all of it, or if we're pretty beat and could use a down day.
  • Mileage:12.78 round trip
  • Gross elevation gain: 3,218' round trip.  Yikes.
Day 6: Dead Horse Lake over Red Knob pass and through the gap between Lovenia and Wasatch BM.  Leave the trail and camp in the Tokewanna cirque.
  • Mileage: 7.38 
  • Gross elevation gain: 2,191'
Day 7: Tokewanna cirque back to the trail; head down valley along the trail back to the trailhead and the car.  Done!
  • Mileage: 8.42
  • Gross elevation gain: 207'
Total Trip Mileage (not including Days -1 or 0): 76.88  This is almost ten miles more than my previous estimate.  If I cut out the exploring on Day 1 up to Upper Red Castle Lake and beyond, it falls below 70.  If I take the Wilson Pass shortcut on Day 2 instead of the long way around with the three pass day, it'll take off about 10 miles (I didn't actually measure it.)  And if I take off the Reconnaissance Lake reconnaissance, I can take off nearly 13 miles.  If I do all of those, I get the trip down to about 47 miles, which is the shortest that I can actually get it without drastically altering the route.  I really hope I'm not biting off more than I can chew, but I probably am.  Ugh.

Total gross elevation gain: 18,696' and this time I am counting Days -1 and 0, because I'll be doing those days consecutive to the backpacking, and it's not like ascensions are all climbing all the time anyway.  This is, in total, over 3½ vertical miles.  But with nine days to do it in, I think I can hack it.  It will be substantially reduced if I cancel the Day 5 exploration and do something else instead, and the late Day 1 exploration.  Which, let's face it, I may have to.

I can also spend some time shuffling stopping points, to some degree.  For example, the three-pass Day 2 can be improved if I camp just on the east side of Porcupine Pass--and there are lakes there that have served as camping spots for Highline Trail thru-hikers before--and spread the third of those three passes out onto Day 3, which relatively speaking is quite flat, with only some elevation gain at the end of the day otherwise.  This might be a necessity, but again--I'll have to play the stop on Day 2 by ear, depending on how tired we are after day 1 and the hiking of day 2.  I'd rather make it over Porcupine on Day 2 and start slowing down a bit and relaxing on Day 3, rather than have Day 3 need to be a real full day with over 12 miles of walking and a fair bit of climbing.  But if I'm simply too beat, or the weather doesn't cooperate and thunderstorms keep us grounded waiting out on the near side of a pass, or something like that, I may need to regardless of what I want to do.

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