Sunday, December 9, 2012

Hayden Peak Hike, July 12, 2012

Hayden Peak, July 12, 2012


The summer has been a bust. No big adventures. No quick Teton climbs. No Windriver epics. No trudging up Rainier with a thousand other fat accountants, mere gumbies searching for the meaning of life. At least my adventures are consistent and enduring,  most those gumbies will move on to Harley’s, hair plugs and extreme conservative politics, while I’ll still be climbing Mt. Owen into my seventies. That’s the plan anyway - with some luck.


So my summer of 2012 has been nothing but home remodeling and scout camp. That was the extent of my vacations: crown molding, painting, Indian Lore and Basketry. I’m scratching my head how I ever got into another old house in dire need of major improvements. The bigger head-scratcher, how did I get back into scouts? I thought those days were long over. My kids are now adults, my youngest son is in Barcelona spreading the word, and I’ve been a scout leader now, in some fashion, for over 20 years. I’ve paid my dues, or so I thought. I love climbing, mountaineering and backpacking, and somehow religious folk in Utah equate that with Scouting. Nothing could be further from the truth. Face it, 12 and 13 year-old boys do not hike, climb or backpack unless it’s on Xbox. They are coddled by their Mom’s and Dad’s, play stupid video games for hours and hours, and, in the process, the blessings of hard physical exercise are lost on them forever. I feel sorry for anyone who has never seen the sun rise from 11,000 feet. I feel sorry for anyone who has never gone on a long ski tour, and, finding the 'joy' lose track of time, getting caught by the night and descending a frigid mountain in the dark, but lucky enough to find peace in the silent cold forest, and deeply moved when hearing the guttural base-tones of a great horned owl calling for a mate at midnight.


My vacation at Camp Steiner (a Boy Scout camp) did offer moments of selfish indulgence. After breakfast each day we (scout leaders and Dads) would dump the boys off at merit badge classes would go recreate for a few hours until lunch. The other leaders would either go fishing or take a nap, but I went hiking or rode my road bike. Climbing Hayden Peak is a great hike. Topping out at 12,400  feet (or so), a short hike (maybe 2 miles one way), fairly steep (2k+ elevation gain), with the crux being the loose rock and scree. Hayden has interesting route finding, in fact, it is one of the few peaks in Utah wherein the route is not totally obvious, requiring moderate attention during your ascent in order to get back off the thing. It requires no technical climbing ability or equipment, but, get off route and you’ll find yourself in exposed dead-ends. Basically, the upper 400 feet of Hayden is like a three tiered wedding cake with multiple chimneys providing access to the next higher tier. The problem is the chimneys do not line up so one must traverse the next tier to find the correct passage to the next higher tier.


I climbed Hayden about fifteen years ago with my son and another scout during a previous scout camp Camp Steiner. My son was strong and competent but the other boy, Blake, ran out of gas at the top of the scree on the pass overlooking McPheters and Ryder Lakes. I had summit fever - big-time - and was not about to let a gassed Boy Scout stop me from summiting Hayden, so I stuck him in rock alcove, almost a cave, and told him to stay put until we returned. In hind sight that was way stupid on my part. A boy scout vanished from near this location several years ago and has never been seen again. It’s a huge, wild land, with endless scree and boulder fields that can easily swallow a scrawny boy scout, so my leaving Blake in that cave was sheer idiocy on my part. Luckily he took my warning and when we returned we found Blake curled in a ball, presumabley for warmth, sound asleep.


This year I was taking no chances and invited no boys to join me. I chose to go solo as it is a sure bet to clear my head and work out the arguments running through my mind.  You know, just he basically stress of life that is tough to escape, compounded by a week of herding Scouts to merit badge classes. Besides, I like alone time. You can only blame yourself for the inane conversations. I left Steiner just after breakfast, drove to the Highline trailhead, hiked the endless, 40 degrees scree, gained the pass and rock-hopped the ridge the wedding cake, touching the last snow of the pathetic 2011-12 winter (light snowfall), ascended the wedding cake tiers and tagged the summit, staying only 5 minutes then blitzed back down (relative term for bald and fifty). 1.3 hours up, 1.1 hours down.


I made it back to camp with ample time to spare. I had lunch prepared before the boys made it back from Indian Lore, and all proud as punch for successfully building a Barbie Doll sized Teepee, thus completing all requirements for the merit badge. You got to love scouting.    
Beginning of the scree.
Upper Christams Meadows Basin, Ryder (r) and McPheters (l) Lakes.
Last of the snow from a light winter.
McPheters (l) and Ryder (r) Lakes, from summit ridge.
At the summit without a uniform - what a pathetic Scout Master!
One of those peaks off in the distance is Kings Peak (highest point in Utah).
The correct chimney. On the descent and in a hurry, I took the wrong chimney, which ended in a 50 foot drop, so had to back track to find the correct route.
Wool from a billy goat bed at the pass over looking Ryder Lake.

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