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rstoddard24
BBQWingz



Joined: 30 Dec 2016
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rstoddard24
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BBQWingz
PostMon Dec 03, 2018 9:21 pm 
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Summary
On September 6 Josh and I set out to be the first to complete the Ultra Pedestrian Wilderness Challenge “Baker’s Dozen” Route. It turned into the most incredible adventure, and one of my favorite outings of the summer. If you want to read about a wild adventure with mental and physical challenge or learn about some seldom traveled places north of Baker Highway read on.

Learn more about the Ultra Pedestrian Wilderness Challenge here. This year, the Baker’s Dozen route is new, and when September came it had yet to be completed. This route is unique in that there is no required path you must take (like most UPWC routes), but rather you just need to hit all 13 peaks in one unsupported go. Oh yeah, apparently “Baker’s Dozen” means 13, I was so confused first time I looked at peak list. None of the peaks are particularly prominent or notable mountaineering objectives on their own, yet including any of the real Bakers Dozen peaks would make linking them in a day not feasible. Rather, the difficulty of the challenge arises from the combination of ultra distance, sustained navigation, off-trail travel, quite a bit of bushwhacking, and some sections of scrambling. The peaks are (from E to W): 1. Winchester Mountain, 2. Yellow Aster Butte, 3. Keep Kool Butte, 4. Welcome Butte, 5. Highmark Hill, 6. Point 5930, 7. Excelsior Peak, 8. Untouched Mountain, 9. Cowap Peak, 10. Canyon Ridge – East End, 11. Canyon Ridge – Middle Peak, 12. Canyon Ridge – West End, and 13. Smuggler’s Point

And added complication this year is the closure of NF-31, which adds quite a long road section at the end. I studied the reports from a couple unsuccessful attempts, did some searching on caltopo and Google satellite, and ultimately came up with a route that started at Twin Lakes TH and headed west to finish at the gate on MP 5.7 on NF-31. I convinced Josh to go for it with me, largely since he didn’t know what he was getting himself into wink.gif We completed the route, with a Trailhead-to-Trailhead time of 14:05. My opinion is that Trailhead-to-trailhead should be to proper way to time this route, since car2car can be much shorter in future years if road re-opens, and 1st peak to 13th peak could mean sleeping at Winchester lookout to get an advantage (which wouldn’t be in the spirit of the UPWC). In any case our car2car time was 16:32 and our peak-to-peak time was 13:22. I should note that Josh decided to preserve his sanity and fitness for Teanaway Country 100 (just 9 days after!), and skipped W Canyon and Smuggler’s, but still got 11 of 13 and 98% of the route. Also note that Katie Teagirl has more recently completed the route and has a more interesting write-up wink.gif (here)

Below is a map of the route – red is planned route and blue is actual route (gpx track). The strava stats for car2car route was 44.3mi with 13.2k’ gain



map link here

Since this is a “Body + Mind” Challenge, there is a reading assignment “Another Roadside Attraction” by Tom Robbins, and we are instructed to write a trip report in the non-linear fashion of Tom Robbins with inspiration from book. Ha – it seems that the reading was more difficult than the route, which is why it has taking me almost 3 months to complete. In any case I finally finished the reading and here is my attempt at a creative trip report.

The Road Walk (/Run) of All Road Walks

Quote:
You risked your life, but what else have you ever risked? Have you risked disapproval? Have you ever risked economic security? Have you ever risked a belief? … Real courage is risking something that might force you to rethink your thoughts and suffer change and stretch consciousness. Real courage is risking one's clichés. – Tom Robins, Another Roadside Attraction

 

Silence was broken only by the thud of feet on the dirt road. After over 16 hours of running the politeness that had once caused us to remain side by side had long since faded, and the space in between us ebbed and flowed as we switchbacked down through the darkness. I looked back and saw Josh’s headlamp a little far for comfort, and slowed the pace, turned my head back down the road and my beam of light with an unnatural color…the bright yellow of caution tape, marking a cliff right in the middle of the road. Wtf? I looked around with my almost useless headlamp (I had just destroyed my bright BD Icon a few days prior on Ragged Ridge) and saw an excavator and other heavy equipment…yes of course the road is closed for a reason. We searched for a way down, finding nothing particularly appealing – and ultimately wound up clawing bushes to control our descent down an eroding bush filled slope down to the bottom. The equipment looked eerie, frozen in the blackness. As we walked past, the music and voices started. Ok, so I didn’t think we had been going for long enough for hallucinations but we can roll with that – but why is there a roaring fire ahead (in the middle of a fire burn)?  Three figures circled around the fire, their headlamps focused straight in our direction. A diesel generator hummed loudly, powering speakers with the radio echoing off into the forest. Josh turned to me and jokingly said, “if this is a sacrifice, you should let them take me, I feel like death anyway”. Who are these people? How had they gotten a truck passed the gate? Are they going to mess with us? It appeared they were living out here – trash was thrown everywhere. We passed the strange ritual without incident, and felt all three eyes on the back of our necks, even after we were out of sight and could no longer hear the echoes of the radio. Even after the right turn at the NF3140xNF31 junction, the way back to the car felt like eternity. This was the road walk of all road walks.

The Golden Peaks: #5-7, Highmark,Pt. 5930, and Excelsior
Baker is radiating in the sunlight. Winchester and YAB already look so far distant to the East. The time per peak is now well under a peak an hour. What a fun day out – we are definitely going to be back to cars before dark and have time for beers on the way home. Next we have some incredible downhill running then a couple fun peaks. Butterflies and fairy dust.

The above are example ridiculous thoughts that were entertained on peaks #5-7.


#5 Highmark Hill, 10:32am
#5 Highmark Hill, 10:32am
#6 Pt. 5930, 11:02am
#6 Pt. 5930, 11:02am
#7 Excelsior Peak, 11:26am
#7 Excelsior Peak, 11:26am

Sunrise on Kulshan’s Kingdom: #1 Winchester
Sleeping under the stars the night before a wild adventure is one of the best feelings. So much anticipation and excitement, feeling so cozy in my down bag and thick pad, the milky way above, shooting starts almost everywhere I look, the crescent moon reflecting off the lakes, and … OMG would those dudes just shut up already? I didn’t realize car camping at Twin lakes TH was a thing, or that we had pulled up right next to some dudes who were just chatting the night away. How obnoxious that they are still up (as if we were not going to be equally as obnoxious in a few short hours for our early wake up). I usually get such awesome sleep at trailheads, but that night it did not come easy.

Josh did not mess around getting up Winchester. We left the trailhead at 6:02, I chased him all the way up and arrived in 29 minutes to be treated to a spectacular display of morning light as we celebrated 1 of 13!


#1 Winchester Mountain, 6:31am
#1 Winchester Mountain, 6:31am


Quote:
Amnesia is not knowing who one is and wanting desperately to find out. Euphoria is not knowing who one is and not caring. Ecstasy is knowing exactly who one is - and still not caring. -Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction 


Sacrifice at Damfino (#9 Cowap)
Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to achieve your goals (like Ziller’s sacrifice in ARA). During Baker’s Dozen – man I wanted to swim in Damfino lake. How nice it looked to just float there looking at the clouds with the sunbeams shining down through the trees. But after Untouched, I did some mental math and figured we could be pushing daylight to get out of bushwhack section. And I did not want to be bushwacking with my piece of crap headlamp. So I looked longingly at the lakes but told Josh I was ready to proceed. This was the Great Sacrifice of the Baker’s Dozen Challenge.

If you look at Google Satellite you will see the climbers trail up Cowap NE Ridge. Or even if you don’t look at the satellite, you will see the NE Ridge is definitely the most pleasant way up the peak. This late in the day, though, we do not want to add any extra distance, and begin SW face direct ascent. Steep grass and dirt is hard for Josh with destroyed trekking poles. We get close to the ridge and the top out is not obvious. Then vertical bush scrambling ensues. At one point my foot blows as a rock breaks away, but the veggie belay is so solid I don’t even blink. Soon we are on the summit, wondering how things could have deteriorated so aggressively from #7 to #9. I look SW to see if there is a way to cut direct back to the Canyon Ridge trail – it looks like a cliff. I cautiously peer over and find a class 3 route to scramble down. Then some steep forest slopes that made me wonder if this is what Barkely marthons is like. I hopped from tree to tree to keep from sliding – from the noises behind be I think Josh may have rolled down that section. We finally emerged, defeated, onto the trail


#9 Cowap Peak, 2:52pm
#9 Cowap Peak, 2:52pm

#3 Keep Kool Butte and #4 Welcome Butte
Anyone who has played Frisbee with a dog at the beach knows that these simple creatures are masters of calculus. What path does Scout take when you throw the Frisbee into the ocean? Will she run on shore until even with the Frisbee, then swim out perpendicular to shore? Or will she take the shortest path, and swim diagonal straight to the prize? Neither – for she precisely knows her running speed and swimming speed, and will take the optimum path to minimize time by running on shore then swimming diagonal at a precise point.

Humans are not so wise. The entire day we were faced with decisions with views of some trail, some bushes, some open terrain, some steeper than others. We over analyze the possible routes, and ultimately have no idea what will be the optimum. This was the story of the day, flailing through the high country. Josh let me make most of the decisions, such as after Welcome Butte heading straight up a 40 degree dirt slope (just to go a more direct way)


#3 Keep Kool Butte, 9:16am
#3 Keep Kool Butte, 9:16am
#4 Welcome Butte, 9:59am
#4 Welcome Butte, 9:59am

Separated (#10 Cayon E and #11 Canyon M)
For me, the best moment of any objective is not the completion. Nor is it the summit (for a climb), or the last summit (for a multiple objective climb). It is the moment that I become almost certain the objective will be a success. Like finishing the crux, clearing of the weather, or exiting technical terrain for the last time.

At Bakers Dozen, this moment never came. As we ticked off the final peaks, I had no idea what lay ahead.

I check GPS and see I am running downhill straight towards Canada, and Canyon M is over my left shoulder. I look behind and don’t see Josh (I thought he was right behind?) I am far off the planned track. Did I miss a junction? I shout “Josh!”, three times, progressively louder, without answer except some echoes off the hills. What if I missed a junction and then don’t know how to reconnect? I start running back the way I came. Josh emerges finally from around a bend, and we leave the trail, and head up to Canyon M, straight thru the bushes. No trail to the summit, but we find it again going back down the other side towards W Canyon.


#10 Canyon Ridge - East End, 3:53pm
#10 Canyon Ridge - East End, 3:53pm
#11 Canyon Ridge - Middle Peak, 5:23pm
#11 Canyon Ridge - Middle Peak, 5:23pm

#2 Yellow Aster Butte
Snap, then curses, then blood. We knew connecting Winchester to YAB would be creative and fun. Josh slipped descending the gully N off Winchester when he weighted his trekking pole and it snapped – leaving him some his hand a little bloody. After getting down to the meadow @5400’ the connection to Tomyhoi lake train and YAB summit is smooth. When we snapped the photo up top (with Josh’s wrapped bloody hand) it became clear that the summit photos would track how Josh’s condition deteriorated throughout the day wink.gif


#2 Yellow Aster Butte, 8:24am
#2 Yellow Aster Butte, 8:24am

Alone (#12 W Canyon and #13 Smuggler’s)
The recent bushwacking and scrambling had taken a toll on Josh mentally and physically, and he began to consider his upcoming Teanaway Country race.  At the “junction” to W Canyon (more bushwacking) we decided that he would skip the last bushwacking and preserve his mental sanity, but I would get the last two peaks so we could have team success. We would meet at the Canyon trailhead on the south side of Smuggler’s. W Canyon was not nearly as bad as Untoched, but it is just hard to move fast in that terrain. The most mentally challenging part of the entire route was climbing up to the road right near Canyon TH – I still have no idea what is happening here. The trail goes way north, I did not want to follow it so went straight up through frustratingly thick bushes. Mentally I knew I was so close to the road, yet I was literally stuck in the bushes!


#12 Canyon Ridge - West End, 6:36pm
#12 Canyon Ridge - West End, 6:36pm
#13 Smuggler's Point, 7:58pm
#13 Smuggler's Point, 7:58pm

Untouched (#8)
2.2 miles of thick bushwacking to reach a sub-alpine summit with absolutely no views. Well, I must say Untouched Mountain lives up to its name. I wonder how many summits Untouched has had (I guess Damfino lakes is popular when the road is open)? I just searched for “Untouched Mountain” in NWHikers and found 0 results. Is there a better route than we took (I dare someone to try?) Has the person who devised the Baker’s Dozen route (Kathy?) ever been to Untouched? If not, then I think they owe us beers! If they have, then I think we owe them – for being badass and for knowingly sending us on a wild ride.

But Untouched, now in memory, is the highlight. Untouched was so unexpected, it was the crown jewel of the Baker’s Dozen. Untouched was wild. Crawling through bushes, we felt alive.


#8 Untouched Mountain, 12:45pm
#8 Untouched Mountain, 12:45pm


Quote:
The purpose of art is to provide what life does not. - Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction


Epilogue
We returned to the car quite tired, and decided we would shuttle car back up to Twin Lakes trailhead and sleep another night there. I woke up at 4am, drove back to Seattle, got 4 shots in my Americano and some chicken nuggets and went to work.

So much appreciation to Josh for joining on this wild adventure, even without that much knowledge about the route. I know the route was much more mentally challenging for him since he had less information about the route and also had done less bushwhacky adventures leading up to it, but major kudos to him for being so positive and supportive of us getting a team completion.

Nine days after Baker’s Dozen Josh ran the Teanaway Country 100 miler – his first 100. I paced the last 29mi and he remained strong until the finish. Afterwards he said Baker’s Dozen had mentally prepared him for the 100.


Josh finishing TC100
Josh finishing TC100
Chilling at final aid station after getting snowed on
Chilling at final aid station after getting snowed on

Some Tips
Helpful tips for anyone going for the route or any of the individual objectives:

Check out the GPS track on map

Route notes – East to West is definitely the way to go (net downhill, more technical section coming off Winchester early on). My only major route modification would be take the climbers trail up NE ridge on the way up Cowap. Josh may beg to differ tho - the best route choice for you will depend on how quickly you move in off-trail terrain. Also maybe you find a better route up Untouched maybe not – good luck!

Car shuttle – takes some time so plan accordingly. Twin lakes road is rough, need high clearance, but I made it with my 2WD Honda CRV

Water – pretty plentiful, we went in dry time of year and still found a lot. We filled at lakes after YAB, then at Damfino Lake, then at a pond not on the map before Canyon M, then at a stream on road run down
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PorcupinePhobia
Murse



Joined: 04 Mar 2012
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Murse
PostMon Dec 03, 2018 10:31 pm 
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I talked to your buddy during Teanaway and he seemed less than pleased with your route planning and it's proximity to the race  lol.gif

Just kidding. He had mostly good things to report. I'm definitely giving it a go next summer, I love the High Divide/Canyon Ridge area. Thanks for the report!
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Stuke Sowle
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Stuke Sowle
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PostTue Dec 04, 2018 5:58 am 
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Thank you for taking the time to put in this excellent report Ryan!  I think the reading requirement and detailed TR might rival the route itself!   Still trying to decide if I am interested enough in this route to tackle in next summer.  I have a feeling it's one of those "all in" or you will find yourself bailing pretty soon into it if you don't have the proper conviction.

Thank you again!

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