Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Taggart and Bradley Lakes Hike

Another day we did the hike up to and around Taggart and Bradley Lakes, two glacial lakes that lay at the foot of the Grand Teton, 5-6 miles with modest elevation gain. We'd done the hike before, in the 70s, but the whole area was engulfed in a wildfire in 1985 that rendered it unappealing. Thirty years later, the trees are back, not yet mature, but enough to be beautiful and to strengthen one's faith in recovery and regeneration. If one lives long enough. The reflections of the Tetons in Bradley Lake were a special treat.
Nez Perce, the Middle Teton, the Grand, Mt. Owen, and
Teewinot, from the beginning of the hike

Distant but interesting symmetry...

Looking up Avalanche Canyon toward the South Teton

Taggart Lake

Reflection in Bradley Lake; interestingly, I didn't see this,
eating lunch by the lake, until I looked through the camera...

The Grand Teton, ditto

Teton view from Taggart Lake

 seral forest here

But fall color all around

We Return To Our Regularly-Scheduled Programming; Or, An Anti-Clockwise Circumnavigation Of Jenny Lake, 2015

So we left the Green River Lakes area, not without incident, and headed out toward Hoback Junction and then Jackson, and lunch at Bubba's, and then an over-night at the Gros Ventre campground and then a removal early the next morning to Signal Mountain campground, our base of operations in the Tetons for this visit. Surprisingly, in later September, the Teton campgrounds are still pretty full, especially the closer-in ones. After setting up, we drove to very old friend Jenny Lake, and did the 7-mile walk around the lake, counter-clockwise, with afternoon light and beautiful weather.
The incident: driving out of the Green River opening...

I have dealt with cows before, one or two in the road, but
never a whole big unescorted herd; but then I remembered my
New Zealand training and experience with sheep...just wade
in slowly, 3-5 mph, and they will move...stop, and they will 

"Share the road, human!"

Cascade Canyon view from Jenny Lake: Teewinot, Mt. Owen,
Storm Point, Ice Point, Symmetry Spire, Mt. St. Johns...

Teewinot, the Grand Teton just peeking out,
and Mt. Owen

As we approach String Lake, Mt. Moran; note protruding black
diabase dike

Symmetry Spire, with its prominent cleft

Cathedral View from String Lake outlet:
Teewinot, the Grand, and Mt. Owen

Eureka!...the unmarked and unmaintained trail
up to Hanging Canyon, from which one climbs
Symmetry Spire, Mt. St. Johns, and numerous
other peaks and spires; a trail I hiked a bit in
the 70s and 80s

Now on the south side of the lake, Symmetry Spire and Mt. St.

Makings of a good trail

Ascent Of Warbonnet Peak, 1982*

In 1982, our young family lived in Minerva Park, a northeast suburb of Columbus, in a really nice big house on a 1/3 acre wooded lot, Vicki a teacher/librarian in Westerville, and I a freshly-minted Ph.D. in philosophy, working as assistant to the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents. (It's a long story). Rebecca was 8 years old and Rachel 2. As a teacher, Vicki had her summers off. As a state employee, I had the standard two weeks. So, more than once in a July or August, we would load up our VW camper Thursday night, and Vicki and the girls would pick me up at 5PM Friday at the corner of Broad and High, and we would take turns driving straight through to Jackson or Pinedale or wherever. We would do family hikes and horse rides, see the attractions, go on float trips, maybe meet up with friends or relatives. And I would do some solo climb or other, sometimes successful, sometimes not. In 1982, we drove over to Big Sandy Opening, Vicki and the girls stayed in the camper, and I walked in to climb Warbonnet and see the Cirque of Towers from above. It was planned to be a one-day walk-in/walk-out, and that is how it turned out, although it was a longer day than planned, and I did much of the walk-out in the dark.
Warbonnet in 1972; it's the the tall plumed one of your left
as you cross Jackass Pass walking in; the easy route, up the
back-side, abandons the trail in the vicinity of the Sundance
Pinnacle and then walks and boulder-hops its way to the top;
not a just keep walking and hopping toward the
highest thing you can see

The day started off fine but then clouded up and ended up
dark and stormy but with no precipitation nor lightning;
"it was a dark and stormy night, but with no precipitation
nor lightning"

Climbing up Warbonnet's back side

Pingora and the Cirque from above

Panning around

Lonesome  Lake; so for the final summit push, I took off my
pack and ice axe, and trudged on up the last few hundred feet,
crawling the last few because of the wind and exposure; I took
some pix, looked around, and then worked my way back to
where I thought the pack and ice axe would be; not there; not
anywhere I looked for the next two hours; finally, I gave up and
started back down as the daylight dwindled; fortunately there
was a granola bar and some water and a flashlight in my belt
pouch; I was back to the camper and family before midnight,
sadder but wiser; a score of summits and attempts later, I have
never again parted from my equipment; oh, it's a really nice
old-fashioned Stubai "Nanga Partbat" ice axe, Austrian, hickory
shaft, if you find it...

*from the Sherouse Family Digital Archives

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Cirque Of Towers, Wind River Range, 1972-92*

We first visited the Winds, and the Cirque of Towers, in 1972. The Cirque is one of the more spectacular of Alpine settings I know of, difficult of access, but of surpassing beauty and uniqueness. We visited again in the early 80s, when I climbed Warbonnet Peak, and then again in 1992, with our girls.
You turn off the highway at Boulder and then drive what were
then some pretty ugly roads, unpaved, for 25-30 miles or so,
and park at Big Sandy Opening; and then you walk; but
immediately the scenery is glorious; Haystack is the big
mountain with the giant face; from Big Sandy Lake

More of the initial scenery

Arrowhead Lake; points toward Shaft Lake; the trail to the
Cirque is reputedly the worst in the West, going up when it
should go down, and down when it should go up, etc.

Eventually, you reach Jackass Pass and your first good glimpse
of the Cirque

And Lonesome Lake; you camp by Lonesome Lake; in the
olden days, you could be pretty lonesome; not any more, I

A cirque is a circular array of mountains, usually around a lake;
so here we are panning around, first left, Warbonnet Peak, then
Warrior I...

And Warrior II and Warrior Ridge

More panning

And Pingora, the tower that looms 2,000
feet over the center of the cirque

And more panning

In 1972, climbing up the interior of the cirque to get a better
look at Pingora


And thus


Lonesome Lake again

Looking down the valley of the west fork of the Popo Agie,
toward Lander, some miles distant; Mt. Mitchell on the right,
named for Finis Mitchell, the Rock Springs climber/writer/
photographer/legislator who did so much to explore and
popularize this area--now all protected wilderness--among my
more prized possessions are some slides he sent me in the

August 20, 1972, the end of our first summer of backpacking;
6 inches of snow as we march out of the Winds

Magical place

*from the Sherouse Family Digital Archives

PS A few weeks after posting this, going through stuff in our storage unit in Missoula, I came across a post card Finis Mitchell also sent me, showing Gannett Peak and its features...

And thus

Monday, September 28, 2015

Gone Paleoichthyologizin' In Western Wyoming, 1994*

Perhaps the best day fishing we ever had was on the high and dry plains of southwestern Wyoming, near the small but famous town of Kemmerer, in a sort of a "u-pick-em" fossil bed for 50 million year old fish. No rod, no reel, no bait, no license. Just a geologist's hammer and pick, and a long spatula (suitable for Parisienne crepes), and a guide from Warfield's Fossil Safaris.
Kemmerer is famous because it was the
birthplace of J. C. Penney and site of his
first store; all of this of some personal
interest since a few years previously
Vicki had represented now-defunct
Republic Bank's personal banking arm
in moving a number of Penney's
executives from NYC to Dallas; well,

En route to the fossil fields, a cow practicing the corpse pose

Eureka! Vicki has found an unusual specimen

A fresh water shrimp-like creature; so unusual that it would be
sent to the U of Wyoming for study (so they said)

Mainly we caught these guys, a couple dozen, limiting out; it's
not catch and release; you can buy these fossil imprints at rock
and fossil shops all over the planet (and ceramic copies);
better if you catch them yourself, and Kemmerer is the place to
do it; we kept ours in a special glass-covered barn-wood buffet
table in our home in  Missoula; of course now they're in a box
somewhere in our storage unit in East Missoula; sic transit,

*from the Sherouse Family Digital Archives