Monday, July 21, 2014

something old, something new

This week's hike was a loop at Alta: up from Collins base to Germania Pass, then down through Albion Basin.  We did this hike back on June 16, 2012, and there was still a lot of snow then. We didn't figure that would be an issue for us this time.  We started early, as we have been doing, parking at the Albion lot and walking along the tow rope line to Collins, then blatantly ignoring not noticing the "Collins Gulch is closed for construction" signs and walking up the access road through Collins Gulch.  Alta is currently working on reconfiguring the Corkscrew/Nina's Curve area, trying to (we believe) open it up and straighten it out since that is how everyone gets filtered back to the main base area.  The earth-moving machines weren't going early Saturday morning, however, so we made our way up and past them without incident.

Possibly moss campion(?) - spectacular color

Every single time we hike at a ski resort, we marvel at how steep beginner and intermediate trails are to walk up.  We gained ground quickly, rising above the angle station.  It was very quiet and we thought we might see some deer, but while we did see lots of tracks, the deer themselves stayed out of sight.  We continued up the access road, switchbacking through Spring Valley, Strawberry, Mambo and Main Street.  When we got up to the bottom of the Ballroom (no snow left in the Main Baldy Chute anymore), we saw a couple of marmots, one of whom chirped warningly and at length at us, the sound echoing off the cliffs.

Top of Sugarloaf in a new hiking shirt

At the top of the Collins chair, I found a faint trail that wrapped around the peak.  As we walked through glorious lupines, I startled up a big partridge - actually, I don't know who was more startled, me or the bird.  From the ridge, we had a gorgeous view of the backside, with Yellow Trail below us, the EBT curving away to the right, Sugarloaf straight across with Devil's Castle looming behind.  We walked around the EBT to the top of the Sugarloaf lift, scaring up quite a few more marmots and scores of chipmunks and Uinta ground squirrels, before backtracking a little and following a path down through Little Dipper and Gravy Boat.  Once below the Sugar Bowl, we climbed up to the rocks on Razorback.  Again, more marmots, folks rock-climbing above Cecret Lake and other people sunning themselves on the shores.

Self-evident, also in a new hiking shirt

We picked our way down Razorback and then walked up the access road a little bit to connect with the road under Keyhole - there's still snow on Keyhole and we ended up passing a couple hiking up with their skis on their packs, heading there to make some turns - and East Greeley.  The wildflowers were out in force on the East Greeley slopes, making for a pretty walk down past the Glitch and Glatch chutes to the base of Sugarloaf.  From there, we continued down through Sunnyside, making our way through the HORDES of people clambering up to view the flowers.  Seriously: there were hordes.  It was nice that we'd had such solitude on the frontside hike because we certainly weren't alone anymore.

Cecret Lake from Razorback

We finished up back at the Albion lodge parking lot and managed to score a picnic table for our post-hike snack.  H doesn't spend much time at Alta in the summer, and when I hike up there it's usually on the Catherine's Area/Supreme side.  It was fun to recognize the summertime faces of trails we know so well from the winter.

Keyhole (snow hidden in gully to the left)

Hike stats:  total distance: 7.48 miles with 1,987 feet of ascension, topping out at 10,569 feet; average speed 2.7 m.p.h.; hike time total (moving): 2 hrs. 48 min.

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