Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, 12/11/10 A new route on Green Mountain

For years, I have been eyeing the steep and narrow canyon, adjacent to the rock outcrop/overlook near the top of Gregory Canyon. This canyon creates the deep North/South cleft between Saddle Rock and lower Greenman and has been luring me since first noticing it, so I decided on somewhat of a whim to finally get off trail and do some exploring.

I started up the Gregory Canyon Trail shortly after 2pm, jogged easy to a point just beyond the second wooden bridge and then dropped down into the bush choked canyon. Progress up the canyon was slow, as the walls narrowed and the Gregory Canyon Trail soon seemed to soar quite the distance above. Before long, the canyon steepened as it turned SW, then South, leading to a pronounced headwall.

Staying in the center of the canyon proved to be impossible through this section, as the creek had frozen here into a nice waterfall of ice. This was easily bypassed to climbers right on a nice (but a little exposed) ledge system and immediately the canyon became relatively level again. From here on, the going continued to be slow and somewhat tedious at times when sticking to the canyon floor. I encountered a real tangle of bushes (sometimes thorny), deadfall, mossy rocks and boulders, ice etc…., as I stuck to my arbitrary “rule” of staying within 10 vertical feet of the canyon floor.  At any time, I could have made quicker progress on the relatively clear hillsides above. 

It never ceases to amaze me how getting off trail just a little bit can bring such a sense of isolation and adventure. I could have reached a busy trail in 5-10 minutes in any direction, but it felt like I may have well have been in Alaska. After 47 minutes of hunching over, crawling, zig zagging, shimmying, back tracking, extricating myself from leg grabbing bushes, galumphing and getting slapped in the face with branches, I finally intersected with the Greenman Trail, exactly where I anticipated a few minutes below the Saddle Rock junction. It was a welcome relief to be on the familiar and well travelled trail, which I continued on to the summit, then down Ranger/Gregory so I could view bits of my ascent route from afar. My only regrets were not having a camera, thicker gloves, eye/face protection, or good company to share the exploration with.


Intersect with Greenman Trail below Saddle Rock jct.: 47

Summit: 1:04

Descent: 29 (easy with a few stops)