After filling up on large quantities of fried pork and eggs and peanut butter granola, the Roving Backcountry Crew leaves the yurt for Missouri Gulch. This will be our third trip to this majestic space. It’s slightly cloudy and the earth reeks of rain. We arrive at the trailhead and meander up the unforgiving switchbacks of the trail’s first mile.
Finally in the flow of the season, Phil, Chris, and I have become seasoned hikers and race for the basecamp, forgetting that Nick, our newest crew member, has not been to this area before. Nick misses the turn for the campsite and heads for the alpine. After a short moment of realization, we hike up and find Nick. Oops. Sorry man.
The night provides a beautiful stage of flashing, terrifying bursts of lightning and thunder with heavy rain.
The morning starts as usual at 5:30 a.m. with Phil giving a loud “Hee Haw” to wake the crew, then a massive breakfast feast. Once the coffee is down, we hike fast (caffeine-fueled) out of basecamp as a dense valley fog chases us into the alpine. The clouds filter through the high peaks moving east toward the sunrise as we gain elevation. We cannot see 10 feet in front of ourselves.
The sun finally breaks through the precipitous cloud cover as we arrive at the worksite at around 13,400 feet. We know this weather is not going to hold, as numerous hikers descending the mountain tell us of the thunderheads to the west. So, we work fast.
We build six steps and an 8-foot-by-4-foot retaining wall, but two-and-a-half hours later the storms are back. We grab our tools and hightail it down the willow-covered valley floor as the weather changes yet again. I love the high country and am humbled by the power the mountains contain.
And, the trail looks great!