This past year was all about training for a 20-mile hike in the Bridger-Teton Wilderness with my Dad and Uncle John–who first did this Paintbrush Divide / Cascade Canyon Loop in 2002. Where there had been wildflowers that year, there was deep snow in 2011–thanks to an epic snow year in much of the West. We were glad we had trained as much as we did for mileage on the trails in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia–but the snow was a whole different animal and required ice axes and crampons.
These training hikes turned out to be a lot of fun in themselves, starting with a 3-day backpack of the Tuscarora Trail in February. In the spring, we did a 10-mile figure-8 tour of Catoctin State Park in Maryland, then an introduction to the Standing Stone Trail and the 1000 steps on Jacks Mountain in Pennsylvania, then some more Tuscarora Trail and Appalachian Trail section hikes.
And in June there was Colorado. I did a fun solo climb of Gash Ridge to Blanca Peak and Ellingwood Point, even though I fell short of my plan for 5 summits that day, and I brought my fourteeners-to-climb count to down to one after completing the hike to Culebra Peak and Red Mountain on a windy June day.
Our family trip to Montana and Wyoming in July included some hikes I will never forget, including short hikes to Lower Grinnell Lake and the Swiftcurrent Pass / Garden Wall to Point 8,479 hike in Glacier National Park, followed by Bunsen Peak in Yellowstone and–the one we had been training for–Paintbrush Divide to Lake Solitude and Cascade Canyon in the Tetons.
Now almost the end of January, I am finally getting around to updating the website with 2011’s trips, and looking forward to getting out more in 2012.