This was my first time on 4 Peaks/Brown's so that made it extra fun. I've never really been a fan of hiking in the snow but this hike has forever changed my mind. The weather folks had hinted all week that we would be in for "wicked" stuff for this hike so we planned our clothing layers carefully. Temps ranged from 25 - 44 degrees depending on our elevation. We had some decent winds(maybe 30 mph) from the saddle up and got snowed on...perfect day since we were looking for a snow hike.
I started out in the parking lot trying out my yaktrax for the first time. I loved the traction I got from them on the slippery stuff until they popped off somewhere along the trail without warning. Hiking behind Tim was great because for the most part I could use his footprints and conserve tons of physical energy. Mentally it was a bit of a game because I kept wondering why Tim's left stride was longer than his right.....he's left handed duh! I learned about postholing, never heard about that and enjoyed stepping on the ice with my yaktrax rather than avoiding it and being fearful of falling. The yaktrax were cool to use but a bit rinky-dink now that I've used the "big guns"! (crampons)
We had great views in all directions...but especially of Roosevelt Lake. The water looked blue, blue, blue until the muddy rain waters upstream came flowing into the lake. Watching the water change colors reminded of the confluence of the Colorado and the Little Colorado so of course I was loving that. We could see the Rim covered in snow, blue skies, white clouds and everything in between. The wind picked up a tinch at the saddle and it started to snow on us. We scrambled up the next section a bit -- fighting our way up an icy slope until eventually Tim decided we would put on the crampons.......woowee those bad boys are amazing!! Tim gave me a quick little lesson on how to carry and use the ice ax. He did a nice little demo of how to fall and catch yourself. (I failed and will need remedial instruction before I try again) We climbed up a bit more to get a look of a short downclimb and that's where Tim said....."uh oh....I don't think you're going to like this much." It was a thick layer of melting ice all over everything glistening beautifully in the sunlight. I did like it because it was so pretty but I didn't like the idea of slipping down it or trying to get back up it because there was going to be a problem if we lost control and slipped too far. I still hadn't gotten a good feel for the crampons and was concentrating on not injuring myself with them. I looked at the questionable area and thought about my climbing gear and pondered how I could best assist us. I really only had a 20 foot sling with me and a couple of biners. I was pretty sure I could rig something up but wasn't sure how stable it would be with the ice.....I see an AMC Snow Skills class in my future....(dang it Tim! you're a bad influence)
We agreed that this would be a place to turn around but I can't wait to go back and play in that chute again!
I wore the crampons all the way back to the car and we could really haul fast in them because I could walk on the top icier section of the snow bank without going deep into the snow. I had a physical therapy appointment that evening for my sternoclavicular joint (tore my collarbone off my sternum --climbing injury, I think) so we were watching the clock and trying to make it back for that ---
We did stop on the way out so Tim could rescue some stranded motorists that had slid off the road.
Thanks Tim for the b-day hike and an extra special thanks to Ken for sharing his crampons and ice ax with me----you guys are the best.