This was a short but super-fun overnight backpack with Jon (johnnybackpack here on HAZ).
Our plan was to get out of town late afternoon, but we still got a later start than anticipated. I was at my uncle's house fixing his computer and didn't want to leave without finishing the job. So Jon and I didn't make it on the road until after 6.
We were both tired from getting +-3 hrs of sleep the night before and neither of us was initially in a good mood. Fortunately, leaving the city behind and hopping on fr143 worked wonders, as expected. After a relaxing drive we got to the trailhead around 9:15PM, and started our hike a few minutes later. The hike in the dark was a blast. The moon was bright and we didn't have to use headlamps for most of it. The only time the headlamps were flipped on was towards the end of the trail when it becomes more overgrown. The first half through the forest was perfect for moonlight. We arrived at Brown's Saddle a couple hours later and were pleased that the weather was perfect enough that we didn't have to set up camp. Sleeping bags (or a fleece in Jon's case) and sleeping pads were all that would be needed. After arriving, our evening consisted of enjoying some high quality brews (more specifically Stone IPA, Modus Hoperandi, and West Coast Imperial IPA), taking in the distant views of city lights and the imposing silhouette of Four Peaks, and talking religion, politics, philosophy, etc. At one point I spotted a light out of the corner of my eye and looked over to see a campfire about 100 feet away, a bit lower on the saddle! We crept over there to inspect only to find a small tent next to the firepit. Needless to say we talked a bit more quietly from that point on. Overall, it was quite the awesome evening that I needed after such a dreadful week at work.
Jon's alarm went off at 4:15 AM. Expletives were uttered and we lay in our sleeping bags for almost a half hour. He eventually informed me it was 4:40. I said I was still game to hike up if he was. We mulled over it for a few minutes then eventually dragged ourselves out of the warmth of our sleeping bags, put our packs and sleeping bags behind a bush on the saddle, and set off to tackle the chute in the dark.
Climbing in the dark proved to be a great time. Our headlamps more than sufficed (the moon had since set) and I was even able to dodge the little cactus landmines that were begging to be used as handholds. Once we got to the top there was a glorious glow forming in the eastern horizon over Roosevelt Lake. What a sight... I was bummed to have to get to "work" with the whole photography thing. I would have been content sitting up there and simply enjoying the sunrise. We both would have regretted it afterward, so we busted out the gear and started searching. We snapped away for an hour or so, and ultimately I ended up with nothing. Jon got something promising... I hope it pans out once he processes it on his computer.
Once we started hiking down, fatigue set in. Combine that with my awkward camera bag, tripod flopping all over the place, and the psychological low from not getting any photos, and I had a pretty cranky downclimb. Sorry Jon for having to listen to my constant b***ing. After reaching the bottom of the chute, once I was ready to hold something that resembled a normal conversation, Jon predicted that we would see an HAZer at some point on the way down. In fact, I believe his exact words were "I wouldn't be surprised if we saw someone from HAZ climbing down that boulder in front of us." Well, low and behold, we got over that boulder and then saw two people climbing up the hill. As they approached I exchanged hellos with the first person, whom I immediately recognized as Liz from her photosets on here. The dude behind her had his head down so I didn't recognize him. I debated for a second over saying something, then figured what the heck and asked if they were on HAZ (knowing they were, of course). I recognize Joe's voice when he said "never heard of it" (which made me laugh) and we ended up having a short conversation and exchanging hiking plans. Soon we parted ways- they seemed to have some serious momentum on the way up and Jon and I just wanted to get back to a trail. Great to meet you Joe and Liz!
The short high from meeting Joe and Liz quickly disintegrated back into fatigue and crankiness, and worsened when we found that our previous night's neighbors left a hot, smoldering fire pit. We used what water we could spare to try and cool it off, stirred the ashes and piled some rocks around it to prevent wind from blowing the ashes around. After that we packed up, had another Stone to try and balance the mood, and hiked back to the trailhead.
In spite of not getting photos and being sleep deprived, it was an amazing trip that I will definitely do again. I highly recommend sunrise at Brown's Peak to anyone who has the nerves to climb that chute in the dark. It's pretty pumpkin rewarding.
||Wildflowers Observation Light