Monday, July 5, 2010

Friday, 07/02/10 Pawnee Peak (12,943)

Pawnee Peak
9.4 miles/2,450 vertical
From Long Lake TH

My mom was in town for several days, so Allison and I figured it would be fun to escape the heat and take her on an easy, yet scenic hike in the mountains, so we figured Lake Isabelle would be the perfect destination.

Getting out of the car, shortly before 10am, it was a bit cloudy and I was immediately chilled by the moderate breeze and was debating how much I should wear, as I knew this would be a fast run on the up and then some easy hiking back from the lake. Hoping/assuming that the day would warm, I opted to go somewhat light, carrying my hooded Go-Lite windbreaker, glove liners and wore shorts and a t-shirt with arm warmers, which turned out to be just the right combination.

The trail to Pawnee Pass makes for an excellent run, as it has a nice and fast rolling start which allows for a great warm up, followed by very mellow to moderate gradient all the way to the pass. My effort was on the high side of moderate for much of the run, but my legs and lungs felt great, making the effort seem much easier. Above Lake Isabelle, the trail resembled a creek for much of the way, as there was quite a bit of runoff from the melting snowpack and recent rainy weather. Before long, I began to encounter patches of intermittent snow that were solid enough to walk on for the most part, but made for slow going at times as I was being careful not to take a side slip.

As I crested the final rise before Pawnee Pass, the venturi winds were in full effect and it was difficult to keep my balance at times. Ascending the steep, but short rise from the saddle toward the summit provided minimal relief where the talus hopping required some additional care to not get knocked off balance by the gusts. I kept my summit stay brief, as I was eager to reconnect with Allison, Mom and Sierra. I made quick work of the downhill, but did not push too hard, as I was being cautious due to the rocky and technical nature of the trail.

We reconvened back at the lake where they had been sitting and snacking for about 15 minutes and relaxed for a bit, before talking them into heading back up the trail a short ways toward Pawnee Pass. Progress was a little slower this time around, as we stopped at each patch of snow to let Sierra go nuts, while Mom and Allison caught their breath (not so easy when coming from sea level or being 20 weeks pregnant with twins). How far we went up this trail was soon decided by a threatening thunderstorm that snuck up from the South, so we hustled out of there as fast as we could. Fortunately, we were spared the brunt of the storm as it passed to the South and West and before long, the sun was shining warm and bright.


Lake Isabelle/Pawnee jct. : 18:34
Pawnee Pass: 55
Pawnee Peak: 1:03
Lake Isabelle/Pawnee jct: 1:33

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