Thursday, July 14, 2016

It's a bad sign...

when you wake up and see your tent resembling an igloo. 

My plan for the Cloud Peak Wilderness was to hike to the top of its namesake. Easy enough right? The Weather Channel promised me nothing but skin cancer causing sun. In other words great conditions for summiting the 13,166" mountain. 

I went to sleep the night before my hike with no weather concerns. Then I heard the gentle drip, drip, drip sound of Wet Death. It was followed by a Ginger Baker drum solo beating down on my rip stop nylon. Hmmm.  If there's a cold rain at 10,100" then it must be White Death above me. 

Sure enough, from my lower vantage point the mountain was looking like a Ku Klux Klan gathering. One big white cap. I took the Polly Anna approach. Maybe by the time I summited, the snow will be melted off. Good idea except there was more gray matter in the sky than blue matter. It wasn't warm either. 

Cloud Peak is comprised of angular granite boulders ranging in size from toasters to refrigerators. None of the stones reside on a level plain. Add slick White Death and ice to the blend and it makes for a dangerous rock hopping experience. I split my shins a few times when I landed wrong. At least this time, there was no spurting blood. 

I persevered to within 100" of the summit. At this point I had been in motion for four hours. There were no obvious straightforward routes to the top. (Lots of snow!) the wind was in tantrum mode , my shoes and gloves were iced over and ominous clouds were gathering. I retreated. The Mojo wasn't right. 

I get to live another day.

BTW. My first gig out of Forestry School was in the Bighorn National Forest. That was 41 years ago. I've come full-circle once again.

Good night from Ten Sleep, Wyoming 

PS. Many of these pix were shot on the day I should have been on the peak.


  1. Looks as if you will have to go back and make the summit later.

    1. There's lots of mountains west of the UP!