Friday, June 9, 2017

Maybird to Pfeiferhorn, June 2, 2017

Pfeiferhorn and upper Maybird Gulch.
I've always hated dawn patrols, defined as pre-work ski outings. Many folks rave about them but I'd rather not mix the day. Plus my work schedule is not conducive to late arrivals. My dislike is not for the early rise and little sleep, the beautiful sunrises make up for that, but for the 'gun-to-the-head' mindset that comes with pushing to get up a mountain before work. The joy is diminished when the shadow of work is looming over your mountain project and I can't separate the two. It messes with the fun of the day when continual clock-watching is required. I don't like worrying about the clock when in the mountains. I escape to the mountains to get away from work. 

Today I had to get to work by mid-morning, so I set the alarm for 4:00 AM and headed for the Pfeiferhorn, with an approach via White Pine to Red Pine trail and then to Maybird Gulch. All wento plan but I was so slow! and I did not quite make it to the summit. I had a set turn-around time which came and went as I arrived at the base of the last climb up the east face of the Pfeiferhorn. The time was late "and I had many miles to go before I sleep" so I did the responsible thing and turned around and went to work. I missed my goal of summiting the Pfeiferhorn primarily because the going was slow; the snow alternately frozen and sloppy. In the summer, when the trail is snow-free and I have much less baggage (ski gear), I can get up the Pfeif in under two hours (plus one for the descent), which makes a 5:40 AM start very reasonable for a late morning ETA at work. My speed today was about half my summer rate and I came up short. With the 4:00 AM wake up call, I didn't get to the trail head until 5:30 (dressing, breakfast and drive time take time) and I wasn't hiking until 5:40. I booted up to the Maybird bridge and was in snow almost immediately after crossing LCC creek, and the snow was icy and often slick. After crossing the Maybird bridge I switched to skis and crampons and the going was faster.

Even with the day cut short, it was still a glorious day in the mountains! 

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn." -- Henry David Thoreau

I LOVE that previous generation had the fore-site to protect small slivers of the Wasatch, leaving it as God created it. Anyone who regularly hikes the Wasatch will come to know how little of the Wasatch still remains free of development. I'm no pot-hugging-tree-smoker, but do we really need ski lifts and condos in every last corner of our state? 

Sunrise and golden cloud over the Hogum Hogback (the Hogum-Maybird divide).

This is the bridge over Red Pine Creek which leads to Maybird Gulch. When I was a kid this bridge did not exist and when I was about 12, while hiking here with my Dad and brother under the same conditions, we reached this point and came upon two skiers returning from Hogum Fork  who were afraid to cross back over. The temperatures had heated dramatically, the creek was so fast and the snow banks so collapsible, they didn't dare attempt to cross. We (mainly my Dad and Mark) helped them across using fallen logs and ski poles. Every time I see this bridge that memory comes back to life.  

Sunrise Peak - a.k.a O'Sullivan's - (middle) and Dromedary (r - almost hidden by tree) with Tanner's Gulch between.
Monte Cristo at sunrise.

First view of the Pfeiferhorn.

Upper Maybird and the Pfeiferhorn.

Should I stay or should I go? Watching the clock and debating whether or not I can get to work on time.

Maybird/Red Pine Divide.

Checking the time . . .again.

The snow was hard and icy but never needed the Whippet.

The ridge line above is the traditional route during the summer, approaching from Red Pine, and it often turn folks around before reaching the last climb to the summit because they get spooked on the knife-edge section (right side of the photo). From down here it looks even more benign than it really is. It has never bothered me. Wish I could say that about other knife-edges, like out current spectrum of elected officials. 

The problem with hiking the Maybird route is that I can't stop taking photos.

A herd of Groots hiking in Maybird. 

As you can see, not the best skiing conditions, but it was June 2. 

The Maybird terminal moraine melting out of the snow with Broads Fork Twins, Sunrise (O'Sullivan's), Dromedary and the LCC ridge line to the north.

Tanner's Gulch across LCC from the Red Pine trail.

Red Top and White Pine Canyon above, getting green below.

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