When: Saturday Night July 12th thru July 13th, 2014
What: Camped at the base of the “The Acres” /Citadel bouldering area on 700L (have climbed here before). Arrived late Sat night and night bouldered until 1AM. Woke up and did trad climbing at the Nautilus all day.
A late Saturday start as we had to work around Caitlin’s new nursing schedule, however it worked out perfectly. We arrived in Vedauwoo right as the sunset started to dip behind the horizon and luckily were able to locate a campsite without issue within walking distance of the Acres Boulders. After quickly establishing our campsite we headed up the trail to the boulders.
Jake about to send this problem under the light of the lantern (please note Caitlin is completely passed out in this photo!):
Rambo sending this large slab problem called “Organic” under the cover of darkness (and I am sure my flashes were only hurting and not helping): (Link for full size)
In the dark I had a mishap taking photos an accidentally broke my lens: LINK HERE
Stars over the Citadel formation where we were climbing. Taken from our campsite:
Next morning we cooked breakfast on the back of the truck and headed over to climb at the Nautilus. We were only relying on the Mountain Project app for directions and none of us had spent any time researching so figuring out where we were was not much fun for this vast area. But eventually we just started climbing some cracks where we had no idea of names/grades:
Tough climbing on beautiful rock:
Then we wandered over to a striking crack on one of the faces. It took Rambo a bit to climb it but it was amazing. We all tried it and it kicked all of our asses with Rambo leading it and Jake sending but the rest of us struggled through the crux. It wasn’t until some other guys wandered over that we realized we were on one of the area classics “Friday the 13th“:
Beautiful quick weekend of climbing!
Dates: July 4th-7th, 2013 (extended 4th of July weekend!)
Who: Caitlin and Andy
Where: Wind River Range Wyoming: Sandy Opening Trailhead
- Day 1: Drive to Trailhead, arrive at 6pm, furiously backpack 6 miles into Big Sandy Lake before sunset
- Day 2: Backpack over Jackass pass (~3.5 miles) into the Cirque of the Towers, explore the area
- Day 3: Backpack over Texas Pass (no official trails), down into the next valley (~6 miles)
- Day 4: Backpack back to the trailhead completing the loop (only 1/2 mile of duplicate trail!), ~9 miles of rolling alpine meadows. Drive home, stop at Farson for ice-cream, get back to Denver at 10pm.
Cirque of the Towers Panoramic as viewed from Texas Pass:
Six hours of driving through the desolate Wyoming plains and you begin to wonder if these mountains are just some sort of myth, or potentially a trap to lure unsuspecting tourists into the abandoned sections of Wyoming. But, alas…eventually this dirt road turns into rolling hills and glimpses of large granite peaks begin to surface.
The Big Sandy Trail head was full of cars and we had an late arrival and an ambitious goal ahead. Our late arrival at the trail head was partially due to 4th of July celebrations the night before resulting in us not being fully packed until the morning of departure. Once we finally arrived, we threw our packs on, and furiously hiked the gradual steeping trail arriving at Big Sandy Lake just as sunset provided us a colorful evening.
Caitlin typically spends the 4th of July at Big Sandy lake in Minnesota, so she was glad that we made it to this Big Sandy Lake before this year’s 4th of July ended.
Big Sandy Lake with a Purple Sunset on our 1st Night:
The next morning we had a very specific objective of climbing over Jackass Pass and camping within the actual Cirque. Jackass pass was beautiful and when one hikes it you understand the reasoning behind the name. The many ups and downs of the pass make sure that over the short distance you are getting a serious work-out. But all of that fades away once you catch a glimpse of the cirque. It was like I had never seen granite form such amazing shapes before.
Along the Trail up JackAss Pass:
The 1st Real Overlook of the Cirque with Wolf’s Head formation right behind us (it felt like you were at the top of the pass but there was still one major downhill then uphill before you were on the edge of the Cirque):
It took us about an hour per mile with breaks to get into the cirque (where the night before we did 1 mile per 20-25 mins). But once we were there it was as if we stepped into an isolated world. We weren’t the only ones there that weekend and it took some time to find a camping spot but where we set-up had some of the best views you could ask for.
Lunch Spot once we crossed over the pass and entered the Cirque:
Talking to a few other backpackers our age we found that there was a route over Texas Pass which was not marked on our map. After spending some time scoping it the night before we decided that we would change our route and go over this pass and make a circle back down to the trail head. We both went to bed excited for the unknown.
The hike-up Texas Pass was one of the most beautiful sections of the trip. After rock-hopping through a massive boulder-field we criss-crossed a Swiss-like hillside full of flowers, lush grass, marmots, and dozens of little streams. We had joked that if we took a shot of whiskey every-time we crossed a stream we would have only made it 1/4 of the way up!
Caitlin leading the way on one of the many stream-crossings:
At the top of Texas Pass (picture of Texas Pass Continental Divide Sign) we had to cross a large snowfield but the views before that were the most rewarding of the trip. The actual pass is maybe a 100ft wide with steep walls causing quite a bit of wind to blow through there. At the top we saw relatively fresh Bear Scat, which is cool to see humans/animals on the same paths. On the other side it was a steep but relatively straight-forward walk down a massive glacial valley.
Billy’s Lake on the North side of the Cirque. The elevation change as we continued to head down the valley was subtle but impressive:
A delicious lunch was had at the foot of Shadow Lake and we continued on the gentle trail for many miles only encountering two different NOLs groups. We set-up camp at the base on the valley in the middle of a number of beautiful little ponds along the river.
A storm started brewing and we were prepping for dinner when we ran into a guy named Norm who was a good way into his Continental Divide Trail hike (read about his adventure here) (his specific trail-journal entry where he met-us). A few minutes of talking and he was back on the trail trying to outrun the storm. Next thing we knew we were eating dinner under a thick spruce tree as the rain came down hard. The evening ended abruptly and it rained most of the night.
In a Lull in the Storm I caught this Reflection on on of the Small Ponds:
After the persistent rains all night we woke to a beautiful morning that warmed up quickly. We packed up quickly and were grateful for the smart food planning as 4 days of trash fit inside one small zip-lock bag. The hike back caught us off guard. Over 4 hrs to get back to the trail head (roughly 9 miles), however 3hrs were in this high alpine plain and then 1 hr of straight downhill. The high-alpine plain was intense with huge rolling hills and every time you approached a lake you dropped several hundred feet in elevation (hiking out of Dad’s Lake), only to climb back out of it on the other side of the lake. Repeat that 3 or 4 times and what we thought would be a simple down-valley hike turned out to be quite a bit more challenging. Regardless each valley provided amazing views and unique terrain that made the last day well worth the effort.
Myself in one of the large, rolling, never-ending Valleys on our last day:
Finally back to the vehicle we enjoyed a home brew that was mostly cold! Drove to Farson for an ice-cream break and made our way back to Denver.
As a Boy Scout many years ago I had spent a week north of here in another basin. We had a mantra of trying to avoid crowds and people when we were in Scouts and sometimes that left out the incredible places that tend to be popular. While this was 4th of July weekend, outside of Big Sandy Lake and the Cirque we barely saw any other backpackers, adding quite a bit to our experience. This is an incredible piece of the planet and well worth the effort to backpack!
Below is a slideshow showing some of my favorite photos from 2010. 2010 was a pretty good year with a number of really cool trips to new locations and old favorites. Hope you enjoy:
If you are following from a feed please follow this link for the full post: http://andylibrande.com/news/2011/01/some-favorites-from-2010/
Where: Yellowstone National Park
When: Friday May 28th – Monday May 31st, 2010; aka Memorial Day Weekend
Who: Caitlin, Andy, thousands of Buffalo, some elk, grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, moose, antelope, and the most dangerous animal of them all: tourists.
Have you every heard of this place called Yellowstone? Because I never have and rightfully so as there is not much to do there. We happened to stumble upon it when we decided that we should drive North through that mostly empty piece of land above Colorado that some historic maps have listed as “Wyoming”.
While driving through this land we eventually landed in this weird place called Yellowstone, which apparently is somewhat famous as it is designated as a National Park (what-ever that means). So we decided to hang-out for a few days (mainly because we were sick of driving through that barren land north of Colorado).
So there is not much to see there which should be expected as it is in the middle of nowhere. Not sure if anyone should ever go to this place…
Not really that many bison roaming all over the park, hanging out on the road or on the trails where you would least expect them.
Or are is there any other wildlife like the herds of elk or Pronghorn Antelope.
Or are there any Grizzly bears taking down elk calves in plain site and proceeding to eat them.
And there are most certainly no Wolves hunting elk herds for their newly born calves.
Lastly the landscape is extremely boring as things such as geysers, springs, bubbling mud-pits, sulphur pits, or stunning mountains and valleys exist anywhere in this park.
Anyways if you want to see some horrible photos of probably the most boring place on earth, please read-on and don’t come crying to me when you are bored to death as I warned you fairly.
The Trip: Yellowstone over Memorial Day Weekend:
Our first Wildlife encounter was on the first evening where we went on our first short hike in Yellowstone (2/3rds mile). We went out around a small geyser basin (Mud Volcano basin) through some insanely wet rain/slush:
Out on this short hike in the wet rain/slush we rounded a corner on the trail right before our eyes was the first (and certainly not last) buffalo; Caitlin exclaimed “Is that a real one!?!”…why yes I believe that is a real one:
One advantage of really wet/slushy rain of the first evening was that the pesky Tourist animal was no-where to be seen. The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone Lower Falls which we enjoyed in complete solidarity for at least 20 mins:
Caitlin demonstrating the proper way to deploy Bear Pepper Spray when a bear, bison, chipmunk, moose, bighorn sheep, or RV decide that they will charge you and attempt to maul/gore/eat/cuddle/love/stomp you:
Saturday morning looked pretty much the Beach Vacation we were expecting (2 inches of Fresh!) the next morning near the Hayden Valley:
Damn tourists can’t walk down the road right:
Porcelain Basin near Norris Junction was insanely awesome:
Some really colorful Extremophiles found in the Porcelain Basin:
The Northern Lamar Valley after a fast moving rain storm (which is about 1,500 ft lower than were we camped and was significantly warmer), also known as the Serengeti of Yellowstone:
Momma and Baby Black Bear were hanging out giving the crowds a show (Near Tower):
Sunday Morning we were treated to some excellent GORE!!! Yogi the Grizzly Bear had chased down an delicious Elk Calf for breakfast and I was jealous as I hadn’t yet had my morning baby animal breakfast. Anyways we finally got a decent photo once he got-up and re-hydrated (but people with high-powered scopes helped us see closeups of the grizzly enjoying the various parts of an elk calf):
Then out of no-where some Wolves attacked a small herd of elk on the same hillside!!! Unfortunately they were hidden by a small hill and they would only pop-out occasionally and were running so quick it that I could not get a photo that was worth anything at all 🙁
Once our killing appetite was taken care of we went and checked out some more Geyser basins near Old-Faithful (Old-faithful was probably the least exciting part of the trip):
So we randomly went to this one small side road and got out of the car to wander around. There was a small group near this one geyser and out of no-where the thing started to erupt and was really sweet to watch it shoot about 25 ft into the air. The White Dome Geyser:
Sunday evening the skies cleared and we were treated to some excellent visual pleasure over the Hayden valley and Pelican Creek (just before sunset the temperature peaked at a whopping 54 degrees):
Monday morning we packed-up and headed out. There was some excellent viewage at Yellowstone Lake (which like most things we saw in the park was still frozen):
Then back in the car again and across that vast land of Wyoming…
If you are following from some sort of feed all of my posts can be found here: http://andylibrande.com/news/
Luckily we confirmed that finally and went to the Citadel region which has over 100 problems listed in the guidebook and the majority of them are moderate to hard. Lots of fun stuff, the only issue we had was the heat and the greasy rocks which added some serious difficulties to all of the problems (especially the slab problems). This is definitely a place that I will come back to a lot of continue to check it out; there is a serious abundance of rock and being just outside of Cheyenne, it makes it pretty easy to get to.
Anyways check out the pics, I have them in another new gallery format and would like your feedback and if you like this way or if the photos under the previous posts work better.