This was our second attempt to top out the Dog Gap. First hike turned back half way up... 12' cliff. Today, we came prepared. Rope, overnight bivy supply, and sort of a plan. Initial surprise came after we topped the minor cliff obstacle... I was expecting something of a walkup past that ledge; instead, more and more demanding scrambles. Yet, it did allow us to top out!
From there we headed over to check out a potential down... Dog Cleft. Not good. Second option: Deadman North or Middle... alas, both came with too much risk of cliffing out. I did not really want to have to bivy over, so the next option was to head up and around the ridge to Jody... a south side spur that would allow us to drop into upper Dog... from where we could attempt to climb out onto Joplin Ridge... and back to Dog Canyon trail.
We got really lucky. Horse/Deer trail wound us down and around nicely into our desired canyon. Jody was a joy to descend with a couple of fun mini-drops. Unfortunately, Jody intersects upper Dog too far West. We had never climbed out from that low in the canyon. We were hoping to ascend just right to stay away from the 1,000' cliffs of the Eyebrow, skirting that formation to traverse around to the trail without ascending all the way up Joplin Ridge. Sort of worked out that way. We did a forced climb up through the upper layer of cliffs in Dog... and looped over to the top of the Eyebrow... but it did not give way nicely. It forced us ever up and around... but finally down. We made the trail around 6:30pm!
We hiked the trail down to the old line cabin... setup headlamps... and slowly hiked out. 8:45pm exit... bit over a 14 hour hard effort. Group was a bit wasted. I felt good, but had an odd bout of leg cramps around 5pm... not nice. Wished I'd thrown the Pickle Juice in the pack... but at least had it waiting in the car.
The highlights of the exceptional Dog Gap have been somewhat lost in the effort to get down and out. The pictures do not capture the day. I used my phone only for pics... and too often my hands were too busy with the scrambles to capture shots. The hike illuminated a variety of potential future exploratories... which may end up being done solo. The difficulty of this day just might serve to delimit future hikes getting anyone to sign on...!?
It was a great route... and fun day!
Ageless Mind... Timeless Body... No Way! Use It and Lose It. Just the way it is...