A few years ago, we took the Grand Circle road trip, hitting all of the big national parks in Utah, plus a few more. This year, we decided to take another road trip that would take us north, all the way to Glacier National Park, hitting the Tetons and Yellowstone on the way up, and Sawtooth National Forest on the return. Little did we know that, given the COVID pandemic, about a million other people had the same idea.
The trail eventually disappeared into a large slope of talus on the flanks of Mount Gayley. Fortunately, there were a lot of cairns along the way so it was pretty hard to lose the route. The route turned into bigger and bigger talus until it finally ended on a ridge that overlooked the Palisade Glacier. And as I expected, it was truly awe-inspiring and huge. A ridgeline of 14ers – Mount Sill, Polemonium Peak, North Palisade, Starlight Peak, and Thunderbolt Peak – towers over the glacier bowl. It is hard to put into words how beautiful this place is.
…The trail headed up switchbacks that gained about 2,000 feet of elevation over a few miles. I passed a large mining operation, then a spectacular waterfall that rumbled so powerfully I could feel it in my chest. Stunning. As the sun came up, it caught the large granite peak next to me with a bright orange alpine glow. The Lord knows how much I love to see a good alpine glow. I felt myself waking up and coming alive. I felt a surge of new energy to push to the summit of Mount Julius Caesar.
I had been to Buckskin Gulch 10 days before with my friend Manny and hurt my back a few miles from the trailhead. I saw just enough of this amazing slot canyon to know I HAD to come back and see all 23 miles of it. When I showed my family some of the pictures, they all signed up and we planned a trip for the following week. Cold, muddy, waist high pools of water made it tougher than most of us had planned on, but no one was disappointed.
There was a study done on men in Ireland over a span of 20 years, involving 3,400 men. The study had two significant findings. First, the men who were active in middle age were three times more likely to be active in their senior years. Second, men who had played a sport for 25 years+ were five times more likely to be active in their senior years than their counterparts who didn’t play a sport.
We were in a slot canyon in a remote area of Death Valley. I heard Manny say something, but I couldn’t make out his words. I got that sinking feeling in my gut. We were in a tight slot canyon and he was 20 steps ahead of me – just around the corner. I rounded the corner and walked up to a huge boulder wedged between the walls of the canyon that extended a hundred feet above us on each side. That nagging fear I had all day was now fully realized. I was in disbelief. I stared down at a perfectly polished 30-foot waterfall. It was completely impassable…
I had been wanting to do Cloudripper (13,525′) for a while, so last year I took the family to make an attempt on the summit. My son Wes and I made it to what I thought was the summit of Cloudripper, only to discover from our GPS tracks that we had summitted the wrong mountain! We summited Vagabond Peak, not realizing that we came about 1000 yards short of Cloudripper. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to do it again.
I went from deadlifting 205 to deadlifting 255. Given my back injury, this is quite amazing. (I had a back injury when I was 16 that has been with me since then.) Bending over and lifting heavy weight like this is always a little terrifying for me. That said, I am hoping that with consistent training, I hope to break 300lbs on my deadlift this year.
Mount Bago is not the tallest mountain in the area, but it is in the middle of four passes and two major drainages, including Bubbs Creek where it empties into Kings River. Looking toward Kings Canyon, Charlotte Dome, a 1500-foot granite monolith, is clearly visible.
Ever since hiking the John Muir Trail last year, I’d been thinking about getting back out there. But I didn’t want to just do the John Muir Trail again. Then I ran across something called the Big Sequoia-Kings Canyon Loop. There are a number of versions of this loop, the longest one being about 150 miles. I decided on the 85-mile version. I did this one solo and I had a blast.