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Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

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Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby mokelumnekid » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:58 pm

August 2012. Sorry for the long TR, and first a big thanks to cgundersen for terrific beta and supporting words prior to our trip.

This trip was a bit of an important and humbling heads-up for me and my wife. It was the first time we had to make a strategic retreat because of injury/lack of physical ability. I am reasonably active and 60 years old but for the last year had not worked-out except ww kayaking, my wife is 55 and a true athlete, but in June had an injury that impacted her knee.

Our plan was to go over Piute Pass, up to Honeymoon Lake, over to Ramona Lake then around the northwest side of Glacier Divide, and contour high above Evolution Basin and come out Lamarck Col. It didn’t seem especially ambitious at the time….

Our first day was over Piute Pass, then up to Lower Honeymoon Lake. I had not been that way in decades and didn’t find the use trail to LHL for sometime. It is not where the sign is by the horse camp, and I cussed a blue streak until I found it. Then it was up to the lake just in time for a spectacular thunder storm with pounding rain. That was a solid day, but during the night my wife complained about her knee and frankly I was pretty wiped.

Next day over the hump to Ramona Lake, and oddly I felt kinda weak and a bit shaky, so we called it a day even though we had not gone all that far. I was surprised by two things at Ramona: 1) someone has built stone furniture and a ginormous fire ring with stacked firewood, despite the fact it is obviously a ‘no fires’ location, and 2) Someone had taken stones and built a large peace sign with a big cairn in the center.

furn-ramona.jpg


The next day we headed out around the northwest corner of Glacier Divide which has a ducked trail in places. We were heading for Lake 10907, and found a nice ‘sneak route’ down the steep eastern cliffs. What a great spot! But again we found a veritable living room of rock furniture around a large fire ring with stacked firewood, and again a large stone peace sign. This was something of an outrage frankly. But more importantly, my wife’s knee was really bothering her and I couldn’t seem to shake my sense of constant fatigue. It was clear that we would need a day without packs.

contour-glacier-divide.jpg


Next day we hiked (sans packs) up from Lake 10907 to the higher string of lakes to the south that lead up to the crossing of Glacier Divide before dropping down to Lake 11236. The weather was broken with thunder and some rain. We dropped down to Lake 11236 and then turned around and headed back to our camp at Lake 10907. When we got back it became clear that there was no way we could continue. My wife’s knee was painful even without a load and I was feeling beat. So we had to reverse our route back over Piute.

scrambling out lake 10907.jpg


string-of-lake-above-10907.jpg


That evening I went over to the peace sign and found a small plastic container in the middle. Inside a found a pair of women’s thong panties from Fredrick’s of Hollywood and on pink paper a note that read,

“Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you…I am woman hear me roar. The Pink Panty Possy Mountaineer Club (no boys allowed!)”

Written on the back of this dated Aug. 10, 2009, read,

“We have visited this lake and named it Mystery Lake in 2005. The Dad’s and Daughter’s Backcountry Builders and Climbers”

Welcome to the wilderness! I guess the Dad’s and Daughters figure that basic rules about fires and leave no trace are for others…same for PPPMC.

lake 10907.jpg


The next day we went back to Ramona and while taking a break I went over to the peace sign there and found another plastic container with yep, a pair of thong panties and more words from the PPPMC. But this time the Dad’s and Daughters dinging them for not leaving more firewood. Good grief, is there no end to the idiocy?

But then things took a serious turn. Leaving Ramona Lake I saw a guy kind of sitting on a sleeping bag in an odd spot right along the shore. Something didn’t look right. I dropped my pack and went over to chat. He was about my age and we exchanged a few words and he asked me if I had seen a party of three younger men with a certain description. I said no, and then he started to cry vigorously and became very distressed and sorrowful. He said that they were his sons and a friend, and they became separated somewhere between Piute Creek and Ramona Lake. He said they were not especially experienced and given that it had rained every night, and that they were a day (or two?) overdue, he was fearful that they had a terrible accident. I did all I could to console him, and promised that we would hasten along and try to alert the authorities as best we could. I offered him food but he said he had plenty.

By the time we got to Lower Honeymoon it had started raining hard again. We searched around the lake for some time but didn’t see anybody or even traces. Dropping down to Piute Ck. we walked in rain gear as far the last place where the Piute trail runs by the creek, as I knew there was no reliable water higher up. It poured all night.

Next day we were up and out early, hoping to get back to Bishop early enough to alert a ranger if we didn’t see one. We spoke to everyone we passed going up to and over Piute Pass, but no one had seen anybody matching the description of the men we were given. We filed a report, but never heard how things worked out.

The take home for me was that I can no longer take my stamina and fitness as a given, and that we need to heed injuries (my wife’s) and have a back-up plan that isn’t as demanding. And maybe pack lighter, gawd forbid!
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Last edited by mokelumnekid on Mon Feb 04, 2013 8:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby oldranger » Sat Feb 02, 2013 5:30 am

Kid

Welcome to the realities of post 60 backpacking. Great TR what a disturbing collection of experiences. You no doubt learned what I did when I was a youngin like you. It is better to stay in shape than to get in shape. Even then you need to reduce distance and I find a layover day after two days of hiking with a pack is the best strategy (though not consistently practiced).

Hope next summer works out better.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby Ikan Mas » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:04 am

What days in August were you there? Looks about the same time I was. Did I pass you on the trail?
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby maverick » Sat Feb 02, 2013 11:44 am

Wow MK, what a bizarre trip. Hopefully those folk were reuinted, did not read/hear
about any SAR conducted in that area. What did the doctor's say about your wife's knee?
Was it a strain, tear, or inflamation? It was a very wise decision not trying to continue
on with your trip.
Like OR mentioned preparing for the backpacking season is important especially as one
get older since the body is less forgiving, and therefore much more injury prone with
much slower recovery times.
Hopefully one of my trips will revisit that area and I will have time to do some
deconstructing of those eye sores. :snipe:
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Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby SweetSierra » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:03 pm

MK,
We met you and your wife several years ago at the base of Seven Gables Pass. Our group was going over the pass the next day and I think you were going the day after. We met again on the way out on the Piute Pass Trail where you offered me some extra water (on the dry stretch of that trail).
I hope your wife's knee is better. Sometimes you don't feel right on a trip and it's hard to say why. Since you were continuing to feel sluggish, it was best to cut the trip short. I hope you have a better trip this summer.
SS
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby SSSdave » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:49 pm

mk>>>"...Our first day was over Piute Pass, then up to Lower Honeymoon Lake. I had not been that way in decades and didn’t find the use trail to LHL for sometime. It is not where the sign is by the horse camp, and I cussed a blue streak until I found it...That was a solid day, but during the night my wife complained about her knee and frankly I was pretty wiped..."

http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=37.25209,-11 ... lakes%20WY

I'm guessing with "use trail" you mean a shortcut that began in the 9840 foot zone, cross the creek in the split zone and traversed cross country to reach the spur trail on the map? Of course only a horse person would bother descending to the 9750 trail junction.

mk>>>"...1) someone has built stone furniture and a ginormous fire ring with stacked firewood, despite the fact it is obviously a ‘no fires’ location, and 2) Someone had taken stones and built a large peace sign with a big cairn in the center..."

Obviously there are some experienced backpackers that ignore important wilderness policies. And not horse packers because I've found monstrous bondfire piles and fireplaces in places horses cannot go. See my Minnow Peak trip last year on my web site where I destroyed some of their fireworks then tossed their firewood into Anne Lake. In the last decade I've caught a couple groups in the act and at least one was a peakbagger. If one posts on the two main climbing boards, one will note there are some members that seem rather arrogant and aggressive tending to revel in doing things other members disapprove of. A few years ago I caught a couple obvious climbers trundling down large boulders on ledges between Nidiver and Ediza Lakes. After I noticed they seemed to be intent on working the whole slope, I down by Ediza with a rather strong set of vocal chords, got out on a prominent knob and yelled up at them who were a long ways away. And they seemed to disappear. So yeah there are a$$holes out there. Fortunately most folks who go into backcountry versus average people in our urban dominated world, tend to be of higher intelligence and have more respect for our natural world.

mk >>>"The take home for me was that I can no longer take my stamina and fitness as a given, and that we need to heed injuries (my wife’s) and have a back-up plan that isn’t as demanding. And maybe pack lighter, gawd forbid!"

Crude measurement shows that was about 10 miles and 2700 feet of vertical. Even though you are probably carrying moderate sized packs that is a rather ambitious start for someone 60 at high altitude. There are lots of more relaxed ways to reach the promised lands. Just take more time. I'm a bit older than you. A couple years ago I reinvented all my gear and managed to reduce typical pack weights down to 65 pounds. Note I'm just 145# and of course I carry a view camera. On the first full day of our Minnow Creek trip last summer I had trouble with 2k vert over 5+ miles even though like you I'm active and was in modestly good shape. By the end we were dragging and stopping. Felt quite weak that kept my heart beat well above its typical 65 bpm at around 90 bpm for 3 or 4 hours after arriving at camp. That is a clear symptom of altitude oxygen deficet in blood issues. For the rest of the trip, I was fine. Same thing often happens first day skiing at altitude. So next time check your pulse. Don't push yourself if your body is in deficets. And with knee issues, it is better to change plans than aggravate since knee swelling delays kicking in such that any first signs ought to raise flags.
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby LMBSGV » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:45 pm

Entertaining and interesting report, MK. I hope your wife's knee is okay and she is hiking again.

I was wondering if along with the missing hikers, you reported the Pink Panty Possy Mountaineer Club and the Dad’s and Daughter’s Backcountry Builders and Climbers for their desecrations. Groups like that should be reported and when caught denied a permit. I wonder if they carry on that way in SEKI or is it only in National Forest wilderness where there aren't backcountry rangers?

Yes, after 60, it really does begin to change. I run every day and add a few hundred feet of climbing to my run the month or more before a trip, but it still gets more difficult. I'm just glad I can still go and enjoy it.
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby freestone » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:31 am

And maybe pack lighter, gawd forbid!


Highly recommended. Need I mention the UL word as a solution for both maladies?

I had planned almost the exact same trip a couple of years ago thinking most folks would just blow by Ramona. Guess not.

As for the knee, I hope it's not too serious. Again, there are lots of wonderful diagnostic and surgical tools for the knee joint these days. I have had two arthroscopic knee surgeries after MRI picked up torn meniscus on each knee. Today, good as new...Well almost, long down hill marches are tough, but they always bounce back for the uphill.
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby austex » Sun Feb 03, 2013 7:56 am

Sorry about the knee.
I searched the web for the two named groups that are disrespectful; no evidence. You never know what people will boast about on the web...Ought to be a way to squeeze their access to permits.
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby sparky » Sun Feb 03, 2013 5:34 pm

Yeah, really weird trip! Better safe than sorry, and I am guessing the boys were probably waiting for dad at the trailhead. Sucks to cut a trip short, but even worse to be miserable miles from the car.

I was off trail in northern yosemite and followed a trail of shredded pornography (animals mush have found the stash) magazine pages to the mother lode under a large cairn. Its just a shame that people think it is ok to leave stuff out there.
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby mokelumnekid » Sun Feb 03, 2013 11:01 pm

Thanks all for the helpful feedback. Regarding the rock furniture and so on- we broke down everything at Lake 10907 and scattered the stacked firewood. But we didn’t do it at Ramona as many of the rocks were too big, and we were trying to get from Lake 10907 to as far as we could (where there was water) up Piute Ck. So all that stuff is still there. See pic below of peace sign and the message from the Pink ladies. I’ve also posted a pic (looking North) of the nifty route down to Lake 10907. The only crux is finding the rabbit hole at the start, a one has to punch through some stiff, sticky pines at an unlikely spot.

IMG_1539.JPG


PPP.jpg


LK-10907-A.jpg


OR: Understood. I have been in shape all of my adult life and for the last 30 years or so making it to the gym 3 – 5 days a week, ride my bike to work, always walk when I can etc. Plus I have one of those naturally skinny bodies that likes exercise. But a year before the trip my schedule got broken and I fell off the wagon. I gained about eight pounds which is a lot for me. And although I was doing a lot of white water kayaking and scuba diving that is not especially much exercise. But I was confident I could rally, as we had always been able to power through anything we had planned previously. We did acclimatize somewhat by spending about a week at the family cabin on Ebbetts Pass (Hermit Valley) at 7,000 feet and doing day hikes.

I expected to be wiped after the first day as North Lake to Lower Honeymoon with full packs is a pretty solid day. What I didn’t expect was to wake up as wiped as when I went to bed. And it simply accumulated after that. So now I have a hill to climb to get back into shape, which is not fun. My problem is that I stopped working out right when I was about to go over an aging step. Double whammy. I have motivation however as I am going to run the Grand Canyon in my kayak in Sept. and so I will have to be in seriously better shape by then.

IM: Our permit for this trip was from Aug. 7 - 13

Mav: My wife’s knee condition is complicated- mostly long term wear and tear from too much running and competitive rowing. I think it is fair to say she is addicted to exercise and will try and run through injury until it is almost crippling. She won’t tell me about it as it is a ‘sore’ subject between us. She is getting P-T and is pretty much fully recovered.

SS: Wow that must have been out trip in 2008! How time flies. We went over Seven Gables Pass but (unwisely) stayed on that exposed rocky ridge that connects Gemini to Turret Peak before dropping down into West Pinnacles Creek and camping at Pemmican Lake. We basically followed your steps all the way out. Thanks for the shout out.

SSSdave: Thanks for the sage words as always. We will def have to no longer assume that what worked even as recently as a few years ago is prudent now. Heck in that 2008 trip we went from North Lake to Merriam Lk the first day. It was kinda brutal but that was only four years ago. Hard to imagine doing anything like that now (yikes!).

LMBSGV, Freestone, austex and sparky: Thanks for the kind words. As far as going much lighter one thing I worry about is adequate shelter. On that trip we got hammered by hard rain. But I’ll take that up in another forum.
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Re: Reality Check: Glacier Divide Aug. '12

Postby SSSdave » Mon Feb 04, 2013 10:40 am

Last summer I saw one of those large peace sign rock patterns on the knob above the west side of Lower Graveyard Lake. We were camped just below there in some sparse trees which is well above the lake. Lower down illegally close to the lake edge were firepits and well used tent spots all along that shore edge. Some only 20 feet from the edge. Note the elevation is just below 10k so fires are generally ok.

For a long time I've been advising the NFS use those yellow metal NO CAMPING warning placards on tree trunks at such spots to emphasize just because groups have been using such campsites does not mean it is ok. Human nature of many visitors is they want to camp as close to lake edges as possible because well lakes are beautiful and water is convenient to be right next to. And too many regardless of whether they have read the permit policies, have little sense of personal environmental ethics, so are quick to rationalize setting up camp at such lake edges particularly since they are aware there is a small chance any wilderness rangers ever come by. And over years such groups increasingly are likely to ignore all manner of policies which only gets noticed by others with weak attitudes. So not surprisingly at some lakes above legal fire limits, one will see depressing numbers of recently built and used firepits. Well see someone else did it...

Unfortunately there seem to be some making decisions that actually prefer to remove all manner of wilderness signage playing into the hand of non-conforming extremists that arrogantly selfishly revel in doing whatever they want. The signage removal would make sense IF there were backcountry rangers but of course there are very few due to funding and such is unlikely to change for many years .
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