Granite Mountain

Things have been very slow, yet fast-paced recently. What I mean by that is a lot is going on, however, not much to mention. Probably the most interesting thing since my last post was a hike my friend, Brody, and I went on two weeks ago. We left the school at 11:00 am for Granite Mountain, a 10 minute drive. Once we got there, it was about a mile or so hike from the parking lot to the base of the mountain. What we didn’t realize was that we went over a ridge that would confuse us a lot on our way back. We started out strong, hiking up at a quick pace since there was no brush obstructing our path.

Granite Mountain is about 2500 feet vertical and depending on how you go, the horizontal distance can range from a mile to a mile and a half. There is also a trail on the backside.

Brody and I wanted to get up and down the mountain as quickly as possible, so we went up the side that’s most vertical. We decided that it would be easiest to get to the top if we followed streams up. Now, at the time, I didn’t even give thought to the fact that I couldn’t see any snow and yet, there were flowing streams on the mountain. The school is almost directly south of Granite Mountain, and when it snows or rains, the wind is generally going south. We got to a point where we had to cross between toes on the mountain when we were about half way up. We rounded a corner – until that point, we had seen only two four foot patches of snow – and suddenly we were staring at two feet of snow solid along the mountain. We figured it wasn’t too bad further along so we crawled across the snow (so we wouldn’t sink) and crossed the stream to the other toe. We made much less progress now that we were hiking in snow, but continued on. We got to what we thought was going to be the top and realized we had reached one of three summits. Unfortunately, ours was about 500 ft short of the others and require hiking down quite a ways before being able to reach the others.

It was four o’clock at this point and I told Brody that we really needed to go to make it down before dark (I’d been bugging him for a while and he insisted that we had kept going). To make matters worse, it began to snow and then we were in a blizzard. We began our descent, through the snow, and I realized that we were taking a completely different path down than we had up. Due to our lack of time, we had to do this to make sure we were off the mountain in time. Our largest problem was that since Brody and I had not seen the snow from the school’s vantage point, we only had light gloves and jackets. My hands and feet quickly became cold as we walked down along a stream. The temperature had dropped significantly both because we were so high up and since the sun was slowly going down. There’s not too much more to say about the walk through the bushes…ah, actually, almost the whole way up and the entire way down was through very dense brush to make our trek harder.

We finally reached the base of the mountain just as the daylight faded and that’s when we saw the ridge I mentioned earlier. We were both very confused since we didn’t remember it. Hiking toward it, we jumped on a trail that we thought would take us to the car. It was pitch dark at this point and after hiking on the trail for a while, I told Brody we should just turn off the trail and go over the ridge to try to find the car. It turns out this was a good idea since that trail just went along the base of the mountain forever (or a really long time). Once we got to the top of the ridge we saw the main road and we were home free. Walking through very dense mud, each of our shoes accumulated 5-6 pounds as we continued. After crossing through two barbed wire fences (not illegal at all) we finally reached the road.

Now it was almost 7:30 pm and pouring. Brody had a heavier jacket so he gave me a poncho he had in his bag. We walked across the street to figure out where we were and called my roommate, Trevor, to pick us up. After standing there for fifteen minutes, we figured out he had already passed us and so we made our way toward the parking lot. It turns out that the trail we hiked on the ridge made us over-shoot the car. We were almost at the lot by the time Trevor came back, but he took us the rest of the way.

Brody and I finally made it back to the school around 8 or 8:30…it’s all a blur now. We were both fine except some scratches and I had very mild frostbite on my fingers that’s almost completely healed by now since it wasn’t much below freezing (30 F) on the mountain. The lesson in that story was to either wait until the snow is completely gone or take the trail up the back side instead next time. Here are some photos/video of the mountain from our trip:

Video 1: Climbing Up the Mountain Video 2: Snowing at the top

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