These last couple of 13ers have been a bit more challenging than 14ers, because the routes get less traffic and are less developed, and the trail surface is less compacted or even invisible, as in this gully towards Pacific Peak:
My trailblazing ascent over rock (when possible) and tundra took forever. The ascent up Crystal Peak was not bad, just slow. And even though the route itself was not exposed, it passes along the steep western face and I got glimpses down dusty couloirs:
I considered summiting Pacific, but the weather was ugly up there, and as it was I got some graupel and sleet on Crystal. The meadow west of Pacific:
Recently I got my S95 back from Canon repair with a new lens assembly and LED (I wreck a lot of cameras), and rediscovered how great the images are. This camera may not auto-focus properly very often, but when it does, damn!
I also promptly dropped it on a rock when photographing the spider below, nearly sending it deep into the crevices between the boulders.
As you approach, the spiders start shaking their webs, presumably to ensnare prey. When threatened, they curl into a ball and drop into the boulders, hopefully with a silk lifeline so they can climb back up later.
The weather was toying with me all day long. By the time I was below Pacific, it was sunny again:
The west ridge of that peak (towards the viewer) looks epic up close. The northwest ridge still looks daunting and steep, with a notch at the top, and I'm not sure how that would play out.
This is the hillside on the way back to Mayflower Gulch:
Once I got back down to the main road, I decided to extend my day a bit in spite of fatigue. I had things I needed/wanted to do at home, but I didn't want a day off where I felt like I had not gotten my money's worth, and didn't think that being tired was really a good enough reason to stop. Know the feeling? So I headed up to check out the mining camp ruins and kept it going.
Door shots are cliche, but there's something compelling about them. Makes you think about what went on within them, many years ago, etc.
After that I decided to head uphill on the south road towards Drift Peak and check it out, running most of it. Very slowly.
See the ridge on the right below (Drift is the mountain in the center)? On approach, that thing looks steep, and is nothing but slippery dirt and teetering talus blocks. It's narrow and wavy, with steep drops on one side. I made it to the "low point" on the right-hand ridge (it was actually above):
Trip reports (including Gerry Roach's) seem to sort of brush it off, but I found this route to be slow going, and a challenge to my comfort zone next to its steep drop-offs. The faint trail followed the ridge right next to the edge, and I was super careful, and avoided it in a few spots. Photos don't seem to convey the feeling of this ridge line, but it felt up high, especially in the wind.
Looking up at Drift, it looked even looser and steeper, I couldn't make out an easy route up, and the sky was looking angry again, so I saved it for another day.
I downclimbed the talus ridge very carefully. Both going up and down, I had several huge rocks tilt and slide unexpectedly, and worked hard to avoid the open, pebbly dirt sections, which took me into the steeper edge of the ridge in search of more solid rock, but requiring trickier climbing. Class 2 my arse, I was on all fours a lot of the time. And my knee tendons were achy and complaining from hours of harsh tension coming down tricky steps (they are fine a day later).
Distance was 13.29 miles, time 7:29 (moving 4:14), elevation gain/loss 4,709 feet, avg. pace 33:49 (moving 19:11).
It was an arduous day up high, but one one which I again felt privileged to even be up there. Fantastic and satisfying.