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 Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)

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Polar
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Location : Castle Rock, CO

PostSubject: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:47 am

So with a new job earlier this year, buying a house, getting a second job to pay for the house... I've been pretty busy. Polar and I still go out and hike, I just haven't had time to come and post any photos.

So where to start? I guess I'll just start with our latest adventure. After riding the "people train" at Grays and Torreys the weekend before, I decided to go find a less crowded spot so I won't need to be leashed to Polar and act as her brake coming down the mountain.

I ended up making a grand plan to tag four named peaks around the Herman Gulch area: Pettingell, Woods, Parnassus, and Bard. I measured the distance with Google Map - about 15 miles... "it's totally doable," I thought. Turned out the ruler on Google Map was a bit short...

I really like the Herman Gulch area, maybe because it's one of the very first places I hiked since we moved to CO. So it holds a special place in my heart. But it's not exactly a "less crowded" area, unless you hit the trailhead at 6 am in the morning on a Friday, which I did. Polar and I saw only two people, and by the time we left the trail at Herman Lake, we didn't see another person until we got back on regular trail three hours later.

Getting up Pettingell Peak from the southern slope was pretty mellow. Got to the summit around 9'ish, and descended the way we came up. If I didn't have Polar with me, the ideal way would be to traverse the eastern ridge to avoid loosing some elevation, but it's class 3 and Polar probably can't handle it. Half way down Pettingell my left knee really started hurting on the downhill. There was some weirdness in my left knee years ago when I was rock climbing a lot and I thought I may have pulled something in there one day, but it was a long time ago and I haven't felt anything ever since. I was mad, and a bit concerned, but mostly mad, since I've never had this type of knee pain before. "Should I bail?" I asked myself, "but it's only 9:30! I just got started!" Since my knee only hurt on the downhill and not flat ground or uphill, I decided that I should go on and just avoid going downhill as much as I can.

Great plan.

Two thirds way down to Herman Lake, I decided to traverse across the hillside on a broad ledge I saw on the way up. "To avoid going downhill as much as I can", I told myself. The plan worked really well until I came upon a very loose scree slope I couldn't get across without getting buried first. The choice was to hike down the hill and link up with the regular trail (loosing elevation) or scramble up along a buttress and gain the ridge. Of course I decided to scramble up the buttress, "to avoid going downhill as much as I can". The scramble was class 2/class 3, fairly easy if a bit loose. There were a couple spots that were too high for Polar to climb so I had to haul her up by her backpack strap, but other than that Polar did pretty well.

Once I gained the ridge, I had no choice but to go down. The knee pain returned, but I soon found out that if I go down at an angle with my right foot leading, it didn't hurt as much. I used this strategy for the rest of the trip. Pretty soon I crossed the Continental Divide Trail, and was on my way up and pain free again. Woods Mountain is only 12940 ft, not quite a 13er and a easy and gradual hike over a smaller unnamed peak from the west side. We got to Woods around noonish, and were down in the saddle between Woods and Parnassus shortly after.

At this point I stopped for some water and snack, and checked Polar's paws. To my horror, I discovered that all four of her paws had one small blister each. She was running around all happy, so I didn't even suspect. I brought out the booties from her backpack, and this was only the second time in her entire life hiking with me she had blisters on her paw and had to wear booties. At this point I was very indecisive, should I kept going to Parnassus? Should I bail? The weather is still beautiful, it was only one'ish, we still have plenty of daylight and good weather ahead of us. Well, Polar made the decision for me. She had done Woods Mountain with me the previous year, and know the trail back to the car. I made the move to hike up to Parnassus, but she just laid down and looked at me. I walked on about 100 feet away and looked at her, "you don't want to hike anymore?" she made no move to follow. Oh well, I guess it's time to head home!

On the way back to the trailhead we saw three more people and one happy Golden Retriever,  but other than that it was pretty uneventful. Judging from all the cars parked at the trailhead though, we missed at least thirty or forty people that were hiking to and from Herman Lake.

A few days of icing with cold beer (really... I don't have any ice packs), the knee was pain free again. More rest and more stretching, hopefully the pain isn't going to come back.

Google Track:
http://goo.gl/maps/ET8Dv

Pictures:












































































































































Top of Pettingell Peak



















This is about when my left knee started hurting.














My camera's battery warning light came on at this point, so fewer photos after this shot.




Overlooking Herman Lake, right before my scramble along the buttress east of the lake.



















Top of Woods Mountain, looking toward the unnamed peak from which we came.









Parnassus, so close, yet so far...



















"Dad I want to go home."




"You really want to go home? No more hiking?"




"Ok, fine, I guess we are going home."


Last edited by Polar on Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:53 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : minor additions.)
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wpskier222
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:58 am

Amazing pix. That makes me SO incredibly homesick!
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cmanding
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 10:24 am

I love your hiking posts and pictures!
I'm glad you're (sort of) back. Missed you and Polar!

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simplify
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:10 pm

So beautiful!

Polar looks so cute with her little booties on.

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jbealer
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:18 pm

great day out in the mountains, i got Parnassus in oct of 2010, we got snowed on!!!!
hope polars pads are all healed up now. poor girl.  and i got one of those bum left knees to, only hurts on the down hill. sucks were gonna just miss you on Elbert, i should have the report up before you go so look for it Smile

oh i also wanted to add that i keep S&J home on anything that i know will be over 10miles, went over that once and i almost had to carry them home, got to keep a good eye on our babies and some times that means turning back before a summit.

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ljelgin
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 1:36 pm

Great pictures.. Polar looks really good in the pictures he is enjoying his hike.
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:18 pm

@jbealer wrote:
great day out in the mountains, i got Parnassus in oct of 2010, we got snowed on!!!!
hope polars pads are all healed up now. poor girl.  and i got one of those bum left knees to, only hurts on the down hill. sucks were gonna just miss you on Elbert, i should have the report up before you go so look for it Smile

oh i also wanted to add that i keep S&J home on anything that i know will be over 10miles, went over that once and i almost had to carry them home, got to keep a good eye on our babies and some times that means turning back before a summit.
Polar was all healed and bouncing off the wall two days after the trip. She recovers much faster than I do. When Polar and I were in good shape, we could cover 15 miles in a day no problem. But I guess we are both very out of shape now, and Polar's paws have gotten too soft.

Which route on Elbert are you doing? I did the standard south route years ago on my rock climbing trip to CO. I also did Keyhole on Longs on the same trip which I'm really glad that I did. With Polar in tow now, I won't be doing any class 3 stuff for awhile.

But anyway, I plan to take my wife and Polar on the north route on Elbert on this trip, just for something a little different.
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PostSubject: Re: Polar goes hiking: Herman Lake, Pettingell Peak, Woods Mountain (8/16/2013)   Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:34 pm

http://www.14ers.com/routemain.php?route=elbe2&peak=Mt.+Elbert
this is where we are headed, i did the keystone/loft route up longs, by far my most fav. climb/hike!
when we do class 3 we leave the pups home


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