Gals! (And guys, cuz I’m politically correct like that) We are headed back to Cloud Peak!
I never really did a real trip report last year when Anh and I attempted Cloud Peak. It seemed like there was way too many things that I wanted to share, and at that time, my site wasn’t as wildly popular as it is now so it just didn’t seem like something I wanted to spend hours on. (Your sarcasm detector should be going off.)
But, because I do have some new readers in the past year, let me take you through my Cloud Peak series of posts:
First, a little pre-trip planning and background information on the Cloud Peak Wilderness Area. You will notice, I mention bears. I hate bears, Brendan.
Next, I gave you a little rundown of our homemade, dehydrated backpacking food.
Then, we went on the trip. I didn’t write anything, but I gave you 200+ pictures of Cloud Peak.
Lastly, several months later, Anh made an outstanding video of our trip.
And now, here we are. Here is where I give our past and future itinerary.
To get to West Tensleep Trailhead, drive to the lovely town of Buffalo, WY. Stop in at one of the fine establishments on Main Street (not The Occidental), and ask for a local named James. Have a beer or two with him, but don’t get suckered into karaoke. Then, head west on 16. Once you come to a deer lodge, hang a right to go north on a barely graded dirt road (Deer Haven Lodge Rd./Bower Rd./10 Sleep Rd.) for about 20 min. to the trailhead. It’s impossible to miss. Once there, sign-in and be on your way. Make sure you keep your registration; we were actually checked by the friendly ranger last year.
Trust your map skills. We had planned on taking the green 2012 route last year because it does seem to be the obvious choice, both in elevation gain and directness. However, when we got to the point where the trails split apart, it actually looked easier to walk the edge. It provided some amazing photo opportunities, but easy and direct, it was not. The entire hike up to the summit is nothing but a glacial boulder field. There are no flat, smooth paths. You will literally be hopping from one boulder to the next for about 2 mi. On our way down, we took the green path, and said, “wow this would have been a lot easier; let’s take this up if we ever come back.”
Seek and Destroy Cloud Peak
Our last trip was meant to be a relaxing, week-long backpacking experience and both of our’s first peak. This trip, now that we know what to expect, is really about vengeance. You see, we fell 500 ft. short (in elevation) of the summit because Anh got altitude sickness. She’s out in WY summiting Gannett Peak right now so she’ll be acclimated this year (let’s hope I can hold up again). We plan to leave next Thursday night and be back in our own beds by Tuesday, including the 28’ish hours of driving.
We plan to get to West Tensleep Lake Trailhead early on Friday morning, and hike along the Misty Moon trail to Misty Moon Lake or further on the first day. On day 2 (Saturday), we’ll take a leisurely stroll up the mountain further up from last year’s basecamp to shorten up summit day by an hour or so. We’ll get up around 2 or 3 am on Sunday to try get to the summit by sunrise and back down by noon. We’ll probably even start heading back if we have any energy left. By Monday evening, one way or another, we should be at the trailhead. We’ll spend one more night in our tent, and head home to MN on Tuesday morning so I can be up and ready for work on Wednesday!
And there you have it. There will be substantially less pictures being taken this year. No fancy, homemade, dehydrated food. And hopefully my pack will be about 10 – 15lb. lighter. We are going to get some payback!
What say you? Have you ever done anything like this? If so, where?
Don’t Miss Your Chance
I was stuck in Corporate America for 9 years. I was miserable.
Then I took control.
You can too, and it starts right here.
I’ve attempted Cloud Peak about 10 times and was successful half the time due to weather or altitude affecting group members. I’ve led groups of scouts and youth from church and it’s always a great trip to the wilderness.
I think you and Anh were fortunate to have excellent weather. Too bad the elevation got to Anh, but it’s great that you didn’t push too hard – the mountain will wait. As your one pic of ice on a puddle shows, this time of year it can get very cold in the mountains. We were actually forced off the mountains when 6 inches of snow fell in July one year.
The route choices you made are common. There’s no real ‘easy’ way to the top, but there are lots of more difficult ways as you discovered. There are rock cairns all over the hillside which I think provide more confusion than help. We call your green route the “Wheelchair Ramp” up to the knob just below the snow area in your route photo. Make sure you’re just to the right (east) of that knob on the way up and you’re in about the best path. If you made it just to the top of your green line, then you stopped at the razorback. That’s a very cool, skinny part that freaks out some people. After that, there isn’t a whole lot of rough road to go.
I’ve seen folks camped up that extra elevation that you mention doing this year. I don’t know that you really save yourself much by doing that since you’re carrying all your camping gear the extra distance but it would make your summit hike shorter.
It sounds like you’re really putting “Labor” into your Labor Day weekend! Best of luck and holler if you want to ask anything.
I’m in Eden Prairie.
We made it! We ended up taking ANOTHER wrong turn on the way up, but it didn’t matter. On the way down, the amount of our wrong turns almost became comical. I know there’s no easy way up or down, but we didn’t help ourselves either. Yikes.
With that in mind, you’ve made 10 attempts?!?! No way, man. After our 2, we have decided we will not be headed back to Cloud Peak unless there is monetary reimbursement involved. That’s one hard climb (almost more psychological than physical)! Haha!
I’ll have our complete trip report and pictures up soon (I hope). Thanks for chiming in!