Friday, January 15, 2016

Uintas Alpine Traverse

Well, I took the concept that I explored yesterday, and made a new caltopo map for it.

Here's a snapshot of the range; a little bit more close-up than yesterdays, from Google Maps satellite view.

I'm liking this more and more the more I think of it.  The Douglas Mountain Boulevard is a jeep trail that traverses most of the desert portion of the "tail of the tadpole"; in fact, I had my route hiking over it.  But why not just jeep it instead, and then take a few minutes to summit Zenobia Peak?

This way it avoids the worrisome desert hiking with uncertain water supplies (especially since August or early September is the best time to do the alpine section of the range—but the worst time to do the desert section.)  It also avoids the equally worrisome crossing of the Green River canyon.  And, since I really wanted to see the Gates of Lodore, it also gives me the opportunity—actually, its mandatory to do so—to drive right by it in the Browns Park area to get to my jump-off point out there in the east.  Spending a few days in the subalpine High Bollies before I get all the way to the alpine Leidy Peak and beyond is also great for altitude acclimatization.  And it avoids lots of road-walking, which I'd have to do almost exclusively out there in the far eastern spur.

A few minor notes:

  • There's still more road-walking than I'd like in the subalpine eastern first couple of days or so.  And a few cross-country short-cuts.  Hopefully the bushwhacking isn't too brutal. As an aside, this is why I always hike in long pants; even on hot summer days.  Get a nice light cloth, and you won't get overheated due to pants, but you want to avoid getting our legs scratched and cut all to pieces by rough bushwhacking and stuff.
  • I took the King's Peak summit off the map, but if I'm right there on Anderson Pass anyway, there's no way I'm not going to do it.  That adds nearly a mile and a half to hit the peak and then come back down—0.7 miles one way.
  • Speaking of which, the route computes, according to caltopo, to exactly 189.99 miles.
  • If I do this without resupplying, I'll need a lot of food.  Luckily, the first few days are (relatively) a bit easier with the ups and downs and high elevation.  Although it's nice to eliminate your weight, you don't want to get hungry before you're done.
  • I'm actually not sure that it can be done without resupplying, unless it's a real death march with long, hard days.  To get the hike done in two weeks (14 days) I need to average just over 13.5 miles a day.  That shouldn't be terrible, but it depends on a lot.  I was hoping to average closer to 10.  If I average closer to 15, I can shave another day and a half or so.  I think the 2-weeks target is what I should plan on going for, and then get myself in really good shape to be able to easily hit a target of 15 miles a day.  With the 2½ day buffer, I can take some time here and there to slow down and enjoy certain spots; the Deadhorse Lake area and Crater Lake in particular being two that I wanted to do.  
  • Although the Chepeta trail head is almost exactly halfway, and the trail does hit the road right there (last time before diving into the High Uintas Wilderness and crossing no roads at all until SR-150 far to the west.)  If I can have someone meet me there, or even find a way to cache some food somehow, that would make a perfect resupply point, keeping my pack weights due to food reasonable.  I even marked that with a third car marker and split the route into an East and West half at this point.
  • I could also, if I had someone friendly enough to do so, get a last minute resupply at 191 and the Highline Trailhead.  I'd still have two nights out after that, and it could keep my pack even further down.  But, in order for that to work, someone would have to be willing to meet me there and hang around.
  • I could actually, if I needed to, shave a little bit of time and miles off the route.  I added a Red Castle area detour that I could cancel if I needed to, and in Rock Creek Basin, I left trail 025 to go explore the lakes on trail 122; and then I even went off-trail to explore a bit more (Reconnaissance Lake in particular.)  While it'd be a bummer to cancel these scenic detours, it's nice to have the option if I need them.  If I get holed up due to bad weather and fall behind schedule, or for whatever other reason need.
  • And if worse comes to worst, there are several bail-out points along the way; 191, 150, Hacking Lake, Chepeta Lake, etc.

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