After driving across Nevada we arrived at beautiful Lake Tahoe where we camped for a couple nights. We enjoyed a sunset and some wine at the beach at the quiet D.L. Bliss State Park on the west side of the lake, then the next day hiked the famous Rubicon Trail along the lake both ways.
Yet again our backpacking hopes for Tahoe were dashed by too much snow still in the high country, and with high winds still in the forecast we bailed after our second night and continued into California. Gotta come back to Tahoe again someday!
In mid-June during the first week of our road trip we took a zigzagging route through the Great Basin of western Utah and Nevada. The Great Basin gets its name from the fact that no rivers flow out of the region; there are few rivers or streams, and any flowing water collects in broad lakebeds or salt flats where it eventually evaporates. Encompassing most of the state of Nevada and the western portion of Utah, the Great Basin is characterized by a seemingly endless series of rugged north/south ranges with broad, empty desert valleys in between. Our first stop was the remote House Range near the western border of Utah, where Notch Peak soars dramatically over the desert with a sheer 3,000 foot vertical north face.
We had hoped to hike a ridge route up to the top of Notch Peak, but a forecast of high winds and thunderstorms quashed that plan, so we moved on to nearby Great Basin National Park just over the border in Nevada. Here the same relentless high winds also convinced us to abandon our plans to hike up Wheeler Peak, opting to not spend a day getting blasted by chilly gusts on the high ridgeline. But we did enjoy a tour through the famous Lehman Cave, a beautiful cave system under the base of the mountain.
Next we drove north to the Ruby Mountains, the most “alpine” of Nevada’s numerous mountain ranges. We drove up Lamoille Canyon on the west side of the range, and were immediately awed by the super rugged peaks soaring precipitously above the valley on all sides. What awesome mountains!
We’d been hoping to do a backpacking trip in the high Ruby peaks but were also expecting that there would probably be too much snow still. Indeed, the high peaks still had a substantial snowpack and the high lakes still frozen, so we camped a few nights in Lamoille Canyon and did smaller day hikes instead. We will have to return another year for some backpacking in this incredible mountain range!
After a long, cold winter, the moment we’ve been looking so forward to has finally come! We’re all packed up and tomorrow we head off into the great wide open for a 3½ month road trip to Alaska and back!
We don’t have a specific itinerary, but here’s the rough plan so far: First, we’ll take our time driving west through the Basin and Range country of western Utah and Nevada. Next, over to northern California to see the redwoods, then up through Oregon and Washington to visit some relatives and friends in both those states. We’ll spend a few weeks in Washington, hopefully doing some backpacking there in the Olympics and Cascades. By early to mid July we’ll venture up into Canada, over towards and through the Canadian Rockies. Then the long haul up to Alaska, where we’ll be for most of August, perhaps doing some backpacking in the Wrangell-St.Elias and Denali areas. By late August to early September we’ll head over through the Yukon, then back home to Colorado by the end of September.
Of course we intend to do lots of hiking and backpacking treks along the way. Speaking of which, if there’s any experienced backpackers reading this who’d like to join us for a wild trek up in Alaska or Canada, we’d be happy to have your company! Give me a shout and perhaps we can rendezvous at some point.
The ski area of Crested Butte oftentimes suffers from lower-than-expected snowfall amounts, but just 9 miles to the west/northwest the Ruby Range gets hammered with some of the highest snowfall totals in Colorado. All winter long I’ve gazed wistfully at the snow-smothered Ruby Range peaks, tantalizingly out of reach for those of us without snowmobiles. In late May now that much of the lower access roads have melted out, yesterday I finally had the chance to get out for a spring descent up in these mountains. Daniel and I hiked up and skied/rode down Mineral Point, the prominent pyramid-shaped peak visible up valley as you drive into the town of Crested Butte.
Later in the afternoon back in town sipping beer in the sun, I gazed up the valley at the peak we just descended, pleased to finally be thinking “I just rode that!” instead of “I wish I could ride that!”
Lately I’ve been itching for a camping adventure but have been too busy to do anything too ambitious or far away. Since we live across the street from Mt. Crested Butte, yesterday I figured what the hell, I might as well just skin up the ski slopes and camp up there for a night! It wasn’t exactly a wilderness experience (I could actually see our condo down below), but it was still nice to spend a quiet evening under the moonlight gazing at the mountains.
My buddy Mikel is working on the official video, but in the meantime here’s a quick cut of some of my own GoPro helmet-cam footage from our recent heli snowboarding trip in Haines, Alaska. The title of this video could also be: Steeper Than It Looks. 😉
On many lines in Haines the terrain oftentimes rolls off over knolls and you can’t always see what lies ahead. Sometimes the guide would be below on the walkie-talkie guiding us to the correct spines to drop in on; but mostly you just take it as it comes, making split decisions along the way. So much fun!
The glaciated and snow smothered Takhinsha Mountains near Haines, Alaska are amongst the most impressive mountains on Earth in the eyes of a skiier or snowboarder. In March 2016 I joined three friends for a week-long trip to Haines to go heli snowboarding in this legendary big mountain riding mecca. With perfect powder and stable avalanche conditions, we scored 4 days of good weather and a total of 18 lines — each line between about 3,000 to 4,500 vertical feet. The trip was a lifelong dream for me, and a pinnacle in my 20+ years of snowboarding!