Monday, January 16, 2023
Start/End: The Loj
Elevation gain/loss: 3176’/3031′
Peaks: Street, Nye
After a late night finish and sleeping cozy in my car in single-digit cold, I had a slower start to my morning. I had to defrost the inside of my car before I could head to Stuart’s for breakfast and coffee. I took advantage of their bathroom and enjoyed the heat. I thought to put on my boots then, but found that they were frozen solid. So I tucked them on the passenger floor and cranked the foot heater while I drove the 30 minutes to the Loj. I parked and then headed out around 8am.
It was novel to start in the light, and it was a sunny start to the day, though it was only in the low teens to start. I made good time in my spikes to the river crossing a few miles in, and then had some trouble. People had posted just on Saturday that they’d crossed by rock hopping ice covered rocks; but that was no longer an option. Almost all rocks were under water. I ended up hiking a few tenths upstream and the only feasible crossing I found was very sketchy. It required some 4-5′ jumps, landing on small, tilted icy rocks, with 3′ of running water to catch me if I fell. I made it halfway across before I started panicking; I managed to calm myself down and finish the crossing, but I wasn’t eager to return the way I’d come.
I ascended to the saddle between the peaks, dropped my pack, and went for the longer spur first. When I came back, I found two packs and met the packs’ owners at the 2nd peak. We chatted, and they told me they’d used trash bags to cross the river and they offered me 2 used but still whole trash bags; I readily accepted. I made quick time of the descent and was back at the river sooner than I’d imagined. Using the trash bags, I was able to utilize underwater rocks to cross just upstream of the summer crossing point and felt relatively stable during the experience though I needed to push down some panic about the deep, fast-moving water just beyond the underwater rocks. I was all too aware of the risk of falling waist-deep into water when it was ~18 degrees.
But once I was across, I felt such a sense of relief! I was done with these two mountains! It gave me a spring in my step and I was back at the parking lot by 1:30.