Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jul 15 – Mount Princeton

Well I got my first sunburn of the trip at the pool yesterday. I almost never have my shirt off and I sure missed a lot of spots with the sunscreen. It’s not too bad but it will remind me to be more careful.

As we left the campground we saw one of the stranger RV’s we have encountered. It had a pop up roof.


Today we drove and hiked the 4wd dirt road that goes up Mount Princeton. Most of the bottom is rated easy while the last section is moderate. You have to go back down the way you go up so they pictures are a mix of up and down.

The weather was all over the place as usual. We got sun, cloud, rain and thunder. I never did see any lightning.

The very bottom was a lot of fun. It was very smooth dirt with no rocks but there were a lot of gullies and bumps which kept it interesting.



I had seen a newer model CRV head up before us. He didn’t last long as we soon met him heading back down.



The road got narrower and rougher. This is still the easy section.



I was feeling pretty good about making it up this far until we came to a corner with one of the new tiny Fiats parked there.



We finally got to a spot where the rocks just looked too big and sharp. I think the CRV could have made it but I was not sure about the tires and didn’t want to press my luck.

The GPS said we had gone from 9000 to 11,000 feet in about 3.5 miles. We were now only 1.8 miles from the end of the road so we decided to park the car and hike for a while and see how far we got.


Unfortunately Jennie did not get very far. The altitude is still really bothering her and she started to feel sick.


I really wanted to see the rest of the road. As much as I hated to do it, I went on while she went back to the car.

The road was really steep and I was soon huffing and puffing. The altitude doesn’t bother me and as soon as I stopped I could easily catch my breath.

It became a game of “If I can make it to the next corner or switchback, I will see if I want to continue”.


Soon after I started up, it began to rain pretty hard. On went the jacket and the waterproof cover on the backpack. Away went the DSLR and out came the waterproof camera. I was a bit cold but it was not too bad so I continued. It rain on and off most of the rest of the way up.




There is a communications tower on that hill in the foreground, above. It is just downhill from the car.




The tower got farther and farther below me.




Looking down I could see parts of the road I had climbed.


I finally broke out of the tree line with what I though was Mount Princeton ahead of me.



Now I had a choice. The hiking trail to the very top of Mount Princeton starts here.


I could either start up the trail or continue to the end of the road that I could see off to the left in the picture below.


I chose the more interesting one to me. I knew I could never make it to the top but I wanted to see how far I could get on the trail. Up I go.


And again it was “If I can just make it to that corner, then that ridge.”



Looking back down the valley.


I could see the hot springs that we were at yesterday.




It turns out that what I thought was Mount Princeton, was not. It is the one off in the distance.





I stopped here for lunch. I felt bad because I had Jennie’s lunch but I knew there were some snacks in the car.

I pulled out the GPS to see how far I had come. I had hiked about 2.5 km and climbed 1000 feet to almost exactly 12,000 feet.

The top had seemed so close.

Mount Princeton’s peak is at 14,100 feet so it is another 2000 feet me above and straight line distance about 2 km away. Who knows how long the trail takes to make its way up.

Here is what I could make out of the rest of the trail.


I had heard some thunder off to the south and it was starting to rain here. By now it had been an hour since I left Jennie and I was very exposed to any lightning so I turned back.

Down to the road.



The climb down was easy. I was in the sunshine most of the way. Down in the valley it was a different story.




I got back to the car after nearly two hours. Jennie had kept herself busy by exploring the area.

The only vehicles that had gone higher than us were Jeeps.


Down we go.


On the way down, about 2 miles from the bottom, we passed 4 people that were hiking up. They saw our Ontario license plate and asked where we were from. It turns out that one of the couples lives about 4 miles east of us in Toronto.

It is too bad they chose that part of the road to hike, There were not really any views until they got to where they were. I saw that they turned around as we headed down. We guessed that their vehicle was not up to the road. When we got to the bottom there were a bunch of SUVs and one very high end BMW.

As we got lower we could see the top of the chalk cliffs of Chalk Creek Canyon.


I guess there is a trail out to the end of that point.


I am always worried about the tires.


I am pretty sure we will need a brake job pretty soon as well. First gear on the CRV is not low enough to actually slow us enough going down these steep road. I have to ride the brake just about the entire way.

And we are down.


Looking back up to where I had been.





Our campground is in that mess off in the distance. We have had a very rainy and grey afternoon and evening.


The pink is the part we drove, the blue is my hike and the red is the rest of the trail to the peak of Mount Princeton.


Today was pretty much a bust for Jennie but it was a very good one for me.

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