We were pretty sure this hike would take longer than daylight this time of year so we planned for an EARLY
start. Up at 4 am, on the road before 5, turning onto Hewitt Road heading for the Roger's Trough TH by 5:20 and arriving at the TH 55 minutes later. 10+ minutes to get geared up (it was DARK
) and we were on the trail by 6:33. So far we're right on time according to plan.
To make sure we'd make it back before sunset we set the goal of leaving Circlestone on the return trip by noon, which would be exactly half the time allotted for the hike. Wanting to get there with plenty of time for photos, videos and wandering around time I set a pretty aggressive pace, not having a clue we'd make such good time we were there 90 minutes ahead of schedule! Surprisingly, we averaged 2.7 mph moving and 2.4 overall on the hike up. I've got to hand it to Tracey for keeping up the pace, not ever having done a hike of this length and nothing even close in almost 2 years.
Well ahead of schedule I wander around area taking a number of photos while seeking a good route around the inside and outside in preparation for the video I planned to shoot. I started the video in the center then made a full 360 degree loop around the inside of the wall followed by another full loop around the outside, ending up with a 12 minute video. I'm trying something new with the video and I'm not sure how well it will work due to its full size and will depend on your connection speed.
(Please let me know if you have issues watching it. Thanks!)
After I took a video while Tracey napped we took a look around for some supposed drawings of Ursa Major and the Sun on a sandstone cliff nearby. (Only after we got back did I find the cliff was somewhere over a half mile away... in which direction?? who knows?) Then we cast our eyes toward Mound Mountain... Tracey said no way! I mulled it over a bit but between not knowing the best route (I failed to load the track from Circlestone to the peak on my GPS), the effort I already expended and finally the snow on it I figured it can wait for a backpacking trip.
We left Circlestone on our return trip at 11:26 am pretty well beat from the pace we kept on the way there, so with plenty of time in hand we took our time. In the end, the downhill was much more of a killer than the uphill, or at least my left knee was complaining loudly, especially on any downhill section... which of course most of the trip out was just that!
The only side trip we took on the way out was to pay our respects at Elisha's grave site. One photo and we continued on. What a relief it was when we dragged into the TH lot at 3:40, 70 minutes ahead of schedule. Great! We won't be driving out FR 172 in the dark!
What a great start for the new year... but I'm not setting any goals this year. (I made the mistake of setting a goal of 600 miles and 300K AEG last year and although I was well ahead of plan by the end of January, knee problems and waiting almost 6 month for surgery set me well back.)
Whatever I end up with at the end of the year is fine with me, I just know I'll enjoy as many hikes as possible.