The late sunrise scorched the desert brush above the trailhead a brilliant orange as I slugged down my Double-shot and poured water into my Playpus. Following a quick sign-in , I tromped along as the trail wove through stands of willow and sage following the spring. Due west rose the saddle, the north slopes of the ridge spiked with stately Bristlecones. We had wandered in that direction last December, the clouds pouring over the ridge, the hoarfrost settling wherever it could find moisture, including my eyelashes. Without the snow cover, the trail meandered south, into the draw and straight up to the ridgeline. For a while I meandered along the scree and rock, dodging patches of crusted snow until a long tongue allowed me to start stepping directly towards my objective. I had brought crampons and axe, but both remained stowed securely on my pack as I simply kick-stepped my way to top. The snow, in sun and wind-shaped corduroy, was firm and kind until just below the ridge, where wind-loaded drifts lay hidden and I punched through, ever the posthole queen.
Too much climbing, not enough hiking this summer, my body seemed to say to me. The ridge was a scramble between rock and snow, the wind gusting up-canyon from northwest, cold and spraying spindrift. At least this time I could see where I was going. On both sides of the ridge, the world fell away sharply, the relative flatlands of Nevada stretching endlessly into boredom. The great Basin and Range reduced to blue, shadowed outlines in the southern afternoon sunlight. Even though I reached the summit in around 3.5 hours, I knew I was not in the shape I had been, and I knew all the work yet to be done was not always going to be pleasant. Such is the mindset of the perfectionist, you see. Not only is there something better, it will drive us to distraction to find the means of achieving it, completing the vicious cycle by finding, once again, something better. The ridge to Montgomery was initially promising, but then gave way to the steeper sections covered in perhaps the same variable conditions I had seen earlier. So, a look of disgust on my face, I cowered behind the rocks and out of the wind to scarf down lunch and sign the register .
The descent was a breeze as I followed wind-scoured boot track to the trail sweeping to the west and around the north end of the ridge. I had determined to take an alternate route back to the TOF, light-stepping the scree and snow of the north face down to Trail Canyon Saddle , then quickly back up to the western bump on the ridge, appropriately named, well, Trail Canyon Peak . Below and to the east along the ridge, the resident wild horses grazed calmly in the afternoon sun, their thick winter coats absorbing its weakened rays. I cruised down, coming to a stop and seat on a rock within 100 feet of the largest one, who eyed me with curiosity at first, but then, with a snort, went back to eating as I snuck a few photos. A yearling stood frozen and staring as I gathered my pack and poles, and I smiled and waved as it sauntered over to the protection of its mother's side and I headed for home. From the high point of the ridge, I cut diagonally across the low sage and down the ridges, thicker brush divided by game trails, and dropping me directly at the trailhead . Another day's adventure in the books.
Rest of the pics are here .
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Outstanding trip report as always. Thanks for sharing
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