Friday, September 4, 2009

Beach Loop Trail (Warren Dunes State Park) (9/4/09)

Route Name: Beach Loop Trail
Location: Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan
Start Elevation: 651 ft.
Max Elevation: 737 ft.
End Elevation: 585 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 3.08 mi


We began this hike again near our campsite. We headed to the RV camping loop and picked up the forest trails near where we started on the Mt. Randall Trail. Only this time we turned right (northeast) and headed the other direction. The trail begins with a mile hike through the edges of the forest.

After the first mile of our hike we began to gain some elevation over one of the hills. After the first hill the trail drops and turns towards the beach. The trail will then head over a second, smaller hump, and then begins to open up with views of Lake Michigan. It also descends down to the beach itself. At this point it was a simple 1.1 mile hike along the beach.

Just Mark and Denny did this hike and upon hitting the end of our hike at the main beach area we met up with the others for some fun time with the kids in the sand and the lake.


Here is the track file from our hike:

My Track

Mt. Randall Trail (Warren Dunes State Park) (9/4/09)

Route Name: Mt. Randall Trail
Location: Warren Dunes State Park, Michigan
Start Elevation: 649 ft.
Mt. Randall Elevation: 783 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 0.98 mi


This is one of our favorite short hikes at Warren Dunes State Park. The route this day took us from our campsite in the tent-camping area up and over Mt. Randall on the trail and then down to the lake shore. This hike included Mark, Denny, and Luke and Jonah.

The official trail begins just off of the RV camping loop and meanders through the forest for a 1/10 of a mile and then up a 150 foot sand hill. This is definitely the highlight of the hike. The sand is very loose and with every step one takes up the hill they lose nearly all of it in sliding. (Going down is much more fun as one can practically run and jump down in about 20 seconds).

After ascending Mt. Randall then it is a flatter hike through a few sand hills and then the descent down to the beach. Most of this hike is on sand with a few portions partly covered by thin vegetation.


Here is the track file from our hike:

My Track


The bottom of the great sand dune climb. Jonah and Luke are ready to head up

At the bottom looking up most of the hill

Nearing the top now. Looks like Luke has stumbled into the sand ahead

At the top of Mt. Randall checking out the lush forest

On top Mt. Randall checking out the remaining hike to the beach

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mt. Lindsey (8/2/09)

Route Name: North Face (standard route)
Start Elevation: 10,691 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,042 ft.
Elevation Gain: 3351
Round-trip Mileage: 8.42 mi (according to my GPS, 8.25mi. according to the books)

Hike Summary

What an exciting hike (and drive) it is on Mt. Lindsey. This is one of the more secluded 14ers in that it is quite a distance to anything civilized. The drive from Gardner (Which is itself a very small town) is 22 miles. We ended up grabbing 2/3 lb. burgers at Gunny's Grill in Gardner (fantastic food and service) at about 7:30pm (after hiking Crestone Peak in the morning/afternoon) and drove into the Lindsey trailhead (Lily Lake). It was a beautiful drive and as we got farther in there it progressively got darker. We'd heard the road got a little rougher as we drove along, but having driven the South Colony road earlier in the day this road was a delight to the very end. It was o-dark-hundred when we reached the Lily Lake trailhead and we ran into a pair of hunter-types coming up the trail in the dark. They said they'd seen a mother bear and cub down in the big meadow just down the trail. Given the dark and bear-like conditions we decided (three of us) to sleep in our Dodge Durango.

After a not-so-comfy night we hit the trail around 6am. What a pleasant hike. The meadow was awesome, the views of the Blanca group were awesome. The trail-finding was not so great. As you hike through the forest sections you will often find split trails, if you're lucky, they end up coming together again 100 feet down the road. One key we found (and have heard elsewhere) is not to ascend too early. There is a boulder field you want to hike past and you end up ascending in a drainage with a small stream running through it. If you see the mine at 11500 you're on the right path. The basin above the initial 800 feet of hiking was spectacular. If you could find a good water source up there this would be a great place to camp a few days.

The weather was perfect for this hike, almost too perfect given the amount of sun we were taking on. We only ran into 4 or 5 groups on the trail and so we were often hiking only with the joys of the wilderness.

We decided to hike the north face (Standard) route. While we've done hikes like the Crestones, Little Bear, and Pyramid, we still avoid exposure when we can. Hiking the initial gully was not all that bad. We mostly stayed on the rocks to the right which made for some easy scrambling. There was snow left at this time in the year.

At the top of the notch we did some creative route-finding. We apparently did not read the route description photos as well as we should have. We were also at this point with another gentleman (who had two amazing dogs with him) who had been up here 5 years ago. He didn't quite know the correct route either. He went straight up (vertically) from the notch which is a very steep climb. We ended up following him. This route, while very steep (Google Earth's elevation profile puts the worst at a 71% angle) and somewhat exposed did gain the summit ridge, leaving a very easy climb to the end. In the pictures I have below I show what we did wrong in terms of following the standard route.

Once you gain the summit ridge, there is the large false summit, "Northwest Lindsey", but an easy hike from there.

From the summit of Mt. Lindsey


On my 14er hikes I use a Nokia N800 Internet Tablet with bluetooth GPS to create a GPX track. There is an amazing program called Maemo Mapper that facilitates this. I have put the track files from this hike into a KML file for download:

My Track


My photos from the wonderful Mt. Lindsey climb:

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Crestone Peak (8/1/09)

Route Name: South Face/Red Gully
Start Elevation: 11,680 ft.
Broken Hand Pass Elevation: 12,955 ft.
Low Point: 12,243 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,294 ft.
Total Elevation Gain: 3,326 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 6.3 mi (according to my GPS)


In 2008, David, Denny (Dad) and I made an attempt on Crestone Peak and ended up turning around. We found the snow in the upper gully, which was quite expansive, to be a little out of our desired range of hiking.

Skip forward to 2009. We're two weeks later in the summer, in a light snow winter, and the red gully is getting near empty of snow. Of course this meant driving that accursed road up to South Colony Lakes again. Last year we had a Jeep Wrangler and did pretty well on the road. This year we drove a Dodge Durango. We *thought* that thing had ground clearance, well not on the South Colony Road. We probably scraped 7 or 8 big rocks on the way up. Thankfully at least we were able to get up this road one more time before they closed the upper half down.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kit Carson Mountain, Challenger Point (7/30/09)

Route Name: Willow Creek Approach / Challenger North Slopes / Kit Carson from Challenger
Trailhead Elevation: 8,876
Willow Lake Camp Elevation: 11,492
Challenger Summit Elevation: 14,080 ft.
Low Point Elevation: 13,613 ft.
Kit Carson Summit Elevation: 14,165 ft.
Total Elevation Gain: 5756 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 14.84 mi (according to my GPS)


Kit Carson and Challenger lived up to the namesake of the latter. We'd read quite a few trip reports and were aware of the distance, the elevation, and the intricacies of the Avenue. What we never fully understood is just how long a hike it is, first up to Willow Lake (with 40 lb. packs), and then up the 2000+ feet of Challenger's slopes.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Huron Peak (7/28/09)

Route Name: North Ridge from Clear Creek
Trailhead Elevation: 10,254 ft.
Summit Elevation: 14,005 ft.
Total Elevation Gain: 3751 ft.
Round-trip Mileage: 10.24 mi (according to my GPS, 11 miles according to the books)


We took the long route for Huron, that is, we didn't have 4WD and so we walked the 2-mile road (up and down). This is otherwise a beautiful hike. At the 4WD trailhead the trail heads up somewhat steeply through the forest. This ascent takes you up to a beautiful basin on the northwest side of Huron's summit. This gives you a view of Huron for most of the middle portion of the hike. The trail leads through the basin winding east around Huron. It then ascends southeast steeply up the end of the basin to the summit ridge. Once on the saddle below the summit its a straightforward but steep climb through some modest scree to the summit.


Clear skies most of the morning, small puffballs started to grow around 9am. By 11am skies still in pretty good shape, no impending storms. One shocker for us today was the winds. As we got into the upper reaches of the basin below Huron the winds were howling. This also brought the temperature down a good degree. On the summit the winds were still howling, almost, but not quite enough to knock a guy over.


This seems to be a growing trend and perhaps worth mentioning. We were surprised at the relatively small amount of people today. I would say we only saw about 20 in total and they were for the most part spread out. We had a good 10 minutes on the summit to ourselves. It was just enough people to not be crowded but yet have a few nice folks to enjoy the scenery with and say hello to.


No snow anywhere near the standard trail. A few snow patches left on the mountain but not an issue for the regular hiker. Trail was easy to follow from the beginning of the 4WD road. Was a great class 1 hike until perhaps the last 300 feet or so. Then it became a low class 2 scramble to the top.


For anyone who is curious about the length of this hike. My brother and I started around 5:20am from the very bottom of the 4WD road. Took about 40 minutes to hike the 2 mile road to the TH. Summited 8:20am (3 hours). Spent 40 mins on the summit. Returned to vehicle at 11:05am (2hr 5 min down). 5 hours 5 minutes roundtrip.


I have two GPX track files from this hike. One for the ascent route, one for the descent route. I have put these into a KML file for download

My Track


Here are the photos from this hike embedded in Picasa:

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