From Rivers to Mountains

It’s been over a year since I’ve posted here, but after another amazing trip out west I had to share about my adventures. Wendell, Ethan, Marshall and I spent two weeks throughout Montana and Wyoming. Hopefully these 21 photos give you a little snapshot of the awesome journey we had.

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Early in the trip we fished the Deerborn River in Montana, a stream of crystal clear water that flows through several deep canyons. The clear water made it tricky to fool the fish, but we all landed several wild cutthroat trout.
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The Deerborn had some incredible scenes and rock formations. We took a long break at this spot before heading upriver towards an evening thunderstorm.
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We also made sure to fish the North Fork of the Blackfoot. The day was cold and unrelenting, similar to our fishing. But we fought hard and hooked into some fat Cutts and Bulls.
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After driving Southeast several hours we made it into Idaho where we fished the Warm River Canyon. A hot day was followed by a pleasant evening. The luscious valley was the perfect antidote after a stormy Montana the day before.
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Part II: The next day we booked it to Pinedale, Wyoming where we began our backpacking trip into the Wind River Range. Here is a view from our campsite at the Trailhead with warm evening views of Squaretop Mountain. In the morning we woke with frost on our sleeping bags.
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The crew ready to start backpacking! Our plans were to target some unique fishing opportunities and attempt a summit of Gannett Peak, Wyoming’s tallest mountain.
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The first leg of our trip wandered by the Green River Lakes. Beautiful turquoise water was created from glacial silt.
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After a night spent along the Green River and sub-par river fishing, we headed up Tourist Creek. The valley was steep and littered with fields of large boulders. Hiking with our heavy packs was brutal, but after several miles we made it to a small oasis at around 10,000 feet elevation.
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The bright moon illuminated our campsite amidst some towering peaks.
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We spent a day adventuring up the valley where wildflowers were in full bloom and bundles of Black Rosy Finches sang. We hiked up to a large alpine lake where a frigid swim topped off our day.
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On the next day our sights were set on Gannett Peak. We traversed across the rocky alpine landscape for about four miles. It was rugged terrain, with loose rock and boulder fields. The sun’s warm rays over this lake was the only calm thing.
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Eventually Gannett came into view. It loomed over us with feelings of doubt and fear. But we pressed onward.
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After about four hours of hiking we arrived at the base of Gannett. From here we had the hardest 3000 vertical feet to go.
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Crampons and spikes allowed us to easily scale our way up Minor Glacier. Ethan is working his way across towards the summit.
Up Minor Glacier I go! Photo by Ethan Miller
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The glacier led us to this steep rocky section. It was slow going to ensure that we didn’t fall on loose rock.
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This was the scariest section. A steep finger of snow cut through our route and there was no detour. We carefully worked our way across without any missed steps.
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Upon reaching the ridge, we were at our last section: a couple pitches of class 4-5 climbing. It was intense but doable. After making it over the ridge we only had a couple hundred yards to the summit!
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We made it! The Gannett summit at 13,804 feet. What a journey! Looking Southeast towards several other large peaks and glaciers.
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At the summit! Photo by Ethan Miller
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Looking north along the ridge. No slipping now!

After a break at the summit, we began the descent. It was easier than expected and after about 2 hours we were down off the glacier and happy to be on flat ground. We made it back to camp at 7:30….12.5 hours of hiking and climbing. We had one more day in the wilderness before beginning our long drive back east. It’s hard to truly capture the beauty of Montana and Wyoming, but I hope you enjoyed the photos!

 

Summit Seeking – Spring Break

For Spring Break Ethan, Marshall, and I took a southbound journey into the Appalachian mountains. We planned┬áto summit six states by hiking their highest mountains. Leaving just before midnight allowed us to be in Virginia by sunrise, where we picked up a great breakfast at Casey’s Diner.

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Casey’s Diner was a good way to start the day

Despite the fact that we were running on only one hour of sleep, we were full of energy and ready to conquer, so we began our first state summit: Mt. Rogers of Virginia. The hike was very scenic, with wild ponies and awesome rocky vistas that offered 360 degree views.

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Ethan getting dangerously close to a Pony

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The wind was fierce up here

After Virginia’s summit, we wasted no time and headed for Kentucky to bag its highest point: Black Mountain. This mountain required just a short hike, which was shortened even more when a kind local gave us a ride back down the mountain.

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Sunset on Black Mountain
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Hitching a ride

No sleep finally caught up to us and we crashed for the night at a campsite. But by morning we were ready to defeat Tennessee at Clingman’s Dome. We battled 16 miles of trail which had a lot of snow and ice cover. It was a long trip, but the view made it worth it.

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Tennessee still had a wintry feel to it
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The summit of Clingman’s Dome!
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Looking North into the Carolinas

The next day we peaked Georgia’s Brasstown Bald and South Carolina’s Sassafras Mountain. The weather really got nice this day; nice enough for me to break out my sandals!

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Climbing Sassafras
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Flannels were required
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It’s not a road trip without some off-roading

On the final day we woke at 3:30 am to begin hiking Mt. Mitchell (N.C.), which is the highest peak East of the Mississippi. We made it to the top just before sunrise, which was our goal. Unfortunately there was a heavy fog, so we missed the sunrise altogether. My first experience of night hiking was still a great adventure!

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Good headlamps were a must
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Our sixth and final summit!

We were dead tired, but full of tons of great memories. I’m looking forward to next spring break for more state summits!