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LastManOut
Where's my whiskey?



Joined: 08 Apr 2008
Posts: 29 | TRs
Location: Spokane
LastManOut
Where's my whiskey?
PostTue Sep 15, 2009 4:43 am 
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It'd been only 2 weeks since TrailJunky and myself had wandered through the Olympics for 5 days, but I was longing to get out on a multiday trip again. I talked my boss into a 4 day weekend and set up the trip with my girlfriend Allison and two of my friends I hadn't seen in awhile, my buddy Caleb and my friend Bob.  My girlfriend Allison had never done a multiday trip, nor had my friends, and they had all been wanting to go on a long backpack for a while.  I figured this grueling trip would give us our fill.  This is a trip I've been dreaming of doing for a while, ever since reading the 100 hikes IntheInlandNW book.  The Long Canyon Loop takes you through the one and only unlogged drainage in the Selkirk Mountains of North Idaho. This hike has some notable perks, including summiting the highest peak in North Idaho(Parker Peak-7700ft), while staring across the valley at Thompson Peak(the 2nd highest peak in N.Idaho) .This loop also takes you through 35 miles of untouched uninterrupted wilderness encompassing deep forests with raging creeks, a ten mile ridgewalk,and two high mountain lakes along the way...

After much planning Bob and Caleb found themselves at my house in Spokane the night before the hike.  We all packed up our final supplies and prepared for the long trip ahead.  As often happens with old friends we spent more time catching up than packing.

The morning came early, and Bob and I hadn't slept much but we all got up, loaded up, and headed for Bonners Ferry and the Selkirks.  We reached the trailhead at 1030 and after shouldering our packs we were on our way.   
Long Canyon Trailhead, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon Trailhead, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

The trail climbed fairly pleasantly a few miles through the woods before we found ourselves in sunlight and significantly slowing in the 80 degree heat.  We continued on and took a lunch/water filter break at 4 miles in along Long Canyon Creek.  The original plan was to hike 12 miles on this first day but the going was somewhat slow so we amended it to staying at a camp listed after the 2nd crossing of Long Canyon Creek.  By the way the book says "ford may be difficult in spring season(65ft across)". It might have said "creek ford will result in rapid and imminent death".  It was still difficult for us in August hopping across rocks and  I would damn well stay away from this creek in the spring...

Finally we reached camp 9 miles in at around 6pm. There had been some confusion since the guide-book said the camp was right after forementioned  2nd creek crossing. We found no camp except a pile of rocks here and grudgingly committed ourselves to walking 3 more miles through grizzly country,  as the sun set, by headlamp.  Luckily for us 1/2 mile later we found the listed camp and did the usual chores before fixing dinner. Allison and I ate some chicken caeser salad and sat around with the guys.  This was a large camp with firewood everywhere. We lit a nice fire but we were all zapped from the day.  We went to bed early and exhausted. 
Camp along Long Canyon Creek, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Camp along Long Canyon Creek, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

We all woke up well rested the next morning around 8am and it took a while to get going, starting up the trail still in Long Canyon after a few hours. A group of three hardcore Mt. bikers passed us about 10am and apparently they were doing all 35 miles of the loop in a day.  More power to the crazy bastards.  We walked a couple miles and had lunch along Upper Long Canyon creek.
Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Cole on Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.the
Cole on Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.the
Giant Mushroom, Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Giant Mushroom, Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison, Bob and Caleb, Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison, Bob and Caleb, Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison and Caleb,Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison and Caleb,Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

From here it would be a 2500 ft climb over 4 miles up to the ridgeline.  We loaded up on water in case none could be had until camp. The weather gods (Thor?) were kind to us today with cloudy skies and a slight drizzle to cool you down. We picked numerous huckleberrys along the way.
Allison on the Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison on the Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Bob, Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Bob, Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

We made good time and 2 hours later we were on the ridge, now with some nice views of Pyramid Peak just to our South and Thompson Peak and the Selkirk crest to the West.  Made a quick side trip to Pyramid Pass hoping for some views but it was treed in; although if you had the time Pyramid Peak would be an awesome side trip.  Now we headed North and after 500 feet more of a steep climb we were truly on the Parker Ridge. 
Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison on the Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison on the Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

A few more miles and we reached the cutoff to Long Mountain Lake, a pretty little lake nestled below Long Mountain.  We dropped down 500 ft in a 1/2 mile and ditched the packs at an even nicer camp.  It was a gorgeous huge camp with large flat tentsites and a firepit right by the lake.  We all set up tents and what not. Then two other people camped at the other side of the lake came towards us heading out.  These were the last two people we would see but I don't why they were leaving at near 6pm, being miles away from a trailhead.  Anyway I set up a tarp for us since the clouds were still threatening, which in doing so caused the clouds to disappear instantly and gave us blue skies in every direction as the sun began to hang low.  Bob took a swim and I tried some fishing and took some pics. 
Camp at Long Mountain Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Camp at Long Mountain Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Mountain Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Long Mountain Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

No fish to be had in this lake.  We made a fire as the light gave out and we all had dinner.  After dinner it was time to have some adult beverages, and I had my Gin fizz that Trailjunky hooked me on ready to sip.  As I passed this around, Allison had some wine that she had decided the same morning she would NOT carry up the trail and she was going to dump.  Bob earlier said he'd carry/drink it but then it ended up back to Allison anyway. We got a laugh out of Bob being the wine sherpa hauling a pound of wine up 3500ft and 10 miles.  Bob retired early to his tent, and Allison, Caleb and I sat around the fire swigging libations.  Poor Bob wasn't feeling too hot, I had given him some Mountain House that the seal had been broken on, thinking nuclear fallout couldn't contaminate this stuff, but alas that wasn't the case.  Around 11pm Bob rolled out of his tent and stumbled out to defile a huckleberry bush.  I Feel sorry for the poor soul who eats those berries...  We were all feeling pretty good and buzzed besides Bob so the three of us went off on a firewood journey.  In the dark while half-drunk we collected about double the wood we had found in the daylight and we were back to camp in no time, enjoying the raging fire and the starry sky.  The night was winding down and Caleb retired to bed. Allison was stirring in our tent.  I went down to the lake in the dark to wash my hands and face before bed.  As I turned around to go back to camp I came down with a bad case of the Gin fizz vertigo! I fell backwards into the lake keeping my shoes somehow dry while managing to soak myself from chest to ankles.  It was lame; 1am with wet pants, long johns, and everything else.  I didn't have a choice here so I stoked the fire raging again, stripped to my boxers, and stood around half-naked while my clothes dried by the fire.  It must have looked like some sorta West-Side Hippie ritual... dizzy.gif

Allison at Long Mountain Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison at Long Mountain Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

Morning came Sunday and it was a beautiful one, no clouds in the sky.
Bob, Caleb, Allison and Cole at Long Mountain Lake Camp, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Bob, Caleb, Allison and Cole at Long Mountain Lake Camp, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

I was quite looking forward to this day, only 6 miles to camp and most all of it a ridgewalk. We packed much quicker than yesterday and we were back on the trail.  Once we gained the ridge it didn't disappoint with views in all directions,  Parker Peak a constant goal to the North with Thompson peak and the Selkirk crest across Long Canyon to the West.  To the East was the Parker Peak drainage tumbling 4500 feet down the Pendereille river valley.   
Thompson Peak, Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Thompson Peak, Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Pyramid Peak Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Pyramid Peak Long Canyon Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Bob on the Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Bob on the Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho

The day passed pleasantly, though there was a little more climb than the book presented(maybe 1400 feet).  Allison was going strong but my two other buddies were feeling the miles by now.  Caleb was bothered by an old knee injury but soldiered on with little complaint.  Bob had chosen to hike in his ancient low-cut supportless mesh shoes.  This was quite a poor choice.  He had bought new shoes the day before we left but one was a different size than the other. The result of the fiasco was Bob was not feeling good, rolled his ankle a few times and practically limped into our camp.  We reached the junction where the right fork would take us towards Parker Peak, and left was our path which relentlessly marched down 600 feet in a half mile to Parker Lake.  Our day was done though at merely 2pm as we reached Parker Lake, and we were all happy to have some hours to relax.  Parker Lake, though scenic, is basically one small camp with a firepit right when you reach the lake.  There was barely room for our three tents but we made it work.  There also was no way around the lake except for wading knee deep along the shore.  The lake had a layer of sediment making the wading difficult and the prospect of a bath or a swim about impossible.  The sun was shining though and us three guys did some fishing while Allison spectated.  Bob and Caleb both caught decent size 10 inch trout but the trout laughed at me and I was skunked again.
Camp at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Camp at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Camp at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Camp at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Camp at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Camp at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Cole fishing at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Cole fishing at Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Caleb, Allison, Cole and Bob at camp, Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Caleb, Allison, Cole and Bob at camp, Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho

The two of them cooked up their snack on the fire mid afternoon.  By now it was about dinner time so I filtered some more water and cooked up some grub; mousilake goulash and pad thai. After dinner, Allison and I needed to be somewhat clean for at least one day so we went down to the shoreline, stripped down, and stood out on large rocks and washed and scrubbed off. Back at camp a little later we lit a fire and awaited the clear night to come.  The sunset made for great views of the lake, which was still as glass. It was and odd camp because it was so quiet, no bugs, no birds, no noise whatsoever.  Your campfire smoke rose straight up, without wind, as in a vacuum where time didn't exist...   After the sun went down Bob and I hiked up the trail by headlamp to hang our bearlines.  We found a great sideways branch about 20-25 feet up and I threw my line up and over.  Bob went next and with a nice toss threw his line up and over as well.  Not a fraction of a second later in my headlight I see a rock swinging sixty miles an hour pendulum style right at my face.  I ducked and narrowly dodged it.  Would have been a bad hit and traumatic injury, that rock was moving!  So bewarned of the bear-line KO! We headed back to camp and lounged around some more.  I made another Gin Fizz and sipped while we told stories and enjoyed the good company. Around 11-12 we turned in for bed and a good last night sleep. I lay down in the eerily quiet woods and doze off.

All of a sudden,  I hear a grizzly bear growling and lumbering down the trail and right into our camp.  I'm freaking out yelling "GRIZZ, BEAR!" and I grab my mace.  By now the beast is right by the door of my tent.  Then rip with one swipe it tears my tent open.  I'm aim and mace it and the bear is growling and snarling and angry.  Next I know wake up to Allison shaking me, I guess I was wimpering and saying "aaahh" and having this terrible nightmare about the Griz lol.  I finally got back to sleep though and the real griz never did come.

Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho
Parker Lake, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho

The last morning came and I was first up at 6am.  Knowing it would be a long 11 mile day I woke up my compadres and we ate and prepared to leave.  The guidebook mentioned one reliable spring 6 miles in and 5 miles from the road.  I don't trust guidebooks too much when it comes to dehydration and heat stroke though so we all loaded 3 liters each and made our climb back out of Parker Lake.  Back at the junction up top, Allison,  Caleb and I made our dash for Parker Peak.  Bobs' ankle was acting up so he stayed behind.  A short 400 foot climb and we were at the summit of Parker Peak-7700 feet.   This was the highlight of the trip with 360 degree views in all directions.  You could see North into Canada, East down to the Pondereille Valley and West to Thompson Peak, the Selkirk range and beyond.  Looking South the whole route along the ridge was visible back to Pyramid Peak.   
Caleb, Allison and Bob, Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb, Allison and Bob, Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Parker Peak, Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Parker Peak, Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb and Allison on the climb to Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb and Allison on the climb to Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Cole on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Cole on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison, Cole and Caleb on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison, Cole and Caleb on the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Old lookout, Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Old lookout, Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Cole atop the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Cole atop the summit of Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb atop Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Caleb atop Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison atop Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Allison atop Parker Peak, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Selkirk mountain range from Parker Peak, North Idaho.
Selkirk mountain range from Parker Peak, North Idaho.
Selkirk Mountains, Thompson Peak, Pyramid Peak from Parker Peak, North Idaho.
Selkirk Mountains, Thompson Peak, Pyramid Peak from Parker Peak, North Idaho.

The summit was awesome but a lot of miles had to be made so we headed back down.  We loaded packs again and were on our way. 
Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

One little climb of a few hundred feet was done and from here it was all downhill, way downhill.  5400 feet of loss and 8 miles stood between us and the road.  We pressed on and my fears of the Spring came true as the spring was dry as bone.  We had rationed water though and ate lunch about 5 miles from the road. From there we marched on in the heat.  The elevation drop was relentless, pounding on feet and knees and ankles, the trail was less maintained on this side with about 40-50 blowdowns to climb over.  Allison was still charging on like a champ and Caleb had decided his knee was going to hurt fast or slow so they both headed out ahead.  I was feeling generally fine but Bob looked like he was one more ankle roll away from crawling out.  I didn't want to ditch him and we made our slow pace together down the switchbacks.  Each time you would get to a corner of a switchback and think you would drop down to the forest the trail would head back up the canyon. 
Pondereillie Valley from Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Pondereillie Valley from Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Pondereille Valley from Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.
Pondereille Valley from Parker Ridge Trail, Selkirk Mountains, North Idaho.

Seemed like it took forever but we finally dropped those 5000 feet into the woods and made it down to the road.

Due to the lack of a shuttle vehicle, 11 miles would not be enough for the day.  It was still 3.5 miles along the road to the Long Canyon trailhead and my truck.  I knew Bob wouldn't make it and Caleb was hurting too, so I volunteered to walk it alone.  Allison spoke up and said she would walk with me and we made off together at a brisk pace.  With no pack, miles were flying by and 2.5 miles were gone in 45 minutes.  The bones and feet were feeling it though, and we were lucky enough to be picked up by the only car heading north, a nice guy with his kids who gave us a ride the rest of the way the last mile.  Felt great to be back at our one lonely truck at the trailhead.  We went and picked up Bob and Caleb, and headed out of the mountains and back to civilization.  First stop, Bonners Ferry Pizza Factory.  We threw down on pizza and beer, stuffed ourselves and journeyed on, back to the thriving metropolis of Spokane...

This was a great hike, all the more so with my girlfriend Allison and old friends with me. Saw only 5 people the whole time.  If you hike the inland northwest this one should be on your list.
Trail Stats:
Days-4
Miles- 39.5
elevation gain- 15,000 feet.
elevation loss-  7500 feet.

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overslept another sunrise
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Chief Joseph
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Joined: 10 Nov 2007
Posts: 4265 | TRs
Location: What Verlot Forgot.
Chief Joseph
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PostWed Sep 16, 2009 12:53 am 
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Awesome report! And very funny as well. You guys sound like my kind of people. I very much appreciate this info as I plan to retire to the mountains of northern Idaho, thanks much up.gif

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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LastManOut
Where's my whiskey?



Joined: 08 Apr 2008
Posts: 29 | TRs
Location: Spokane
LastManOut
Where's my whiskey?
PostWed Sep 16, 2009 2:52 am 
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Thanks ryder, I like your icon.  I ride a cbr 954rr myself.  Come check out the inland northwest its great, not quite as scenic as the west but tons of solitude and adventure.

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overslept another sunrise
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Tazz
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Tazz
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PostWed Sep 16, 2009 8:38 am 
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nice!  i have been wanting to get over there and do some alpine rock.  thanks fro the report.
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Chief Joseph
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Chief Joseph
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PostThu Sep 17, 2009 12:35 am 
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LastManOut wrote:
Thanks ryder, I like your icon.  I ride a cbr 954rr myself.  Come check out the inland northwest its great, not quite as scenic as the west but tons of solitude and adventure.

Cool. I ride an old-school v-45 Magna, as I am also old school, a few years back though I rode my son's 929rr for the summer, love the handling and aerodynamics, and was way more comfortable than I expected.

I like the look of those trails over there, they seem more open and less rocky than here on the coast. I didn't realize that the Selkirks had peaks that high. I plan to climb up onto chimney rock above Priest Lake the first of October, have you ever been up there?  If so, Is it a fairly easy hike?

I liked your Grizz story, I was like WTF!, had me worried for a sec,

I like your sig line, I like to bring 151 when I backpack, takes up less volume and weighs less.

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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Chief Joseph
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Location: What Verlot Forgot.
Chief Joseph
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PostThu Sep 17, 2009 12:37 am 
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2x...oops.

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Go placidly amid the noise and waste, and remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
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harrymalamute
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harrymalamute
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PostFri Sep 18, 2009 9:57 pm 
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fun write up, glade i found this tr. i can definitely relate to the grizzly dream. funny reading it, but north idaho will do that to ya- next it will be packs of wolves surrounding me.

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hikes and climbs with malamute
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delta1993
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delta1993
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PostMon May 27, 2013 2:50 pm 
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Hey my wife and i were looking to just do this hike on an overnight. Of course we wouldn't cover the whole trip, but were wondering in your opinion would it be worth just an up one day and turn around back down the next or not? Thanks Dan
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