Written by Don Alexander

5:30am came quite fast.  Actually, I was woken before by the most unique wakeup call I’ve ever experienced.  Sometime before then someone has turned on the ignition of their ATV.  It was so quiet, so gentle that I don’t think anyone else heard it.  I was still so exited about the coming day that my sleep was very light and I lied there resting comfortably.  Not long after, mine and others GPS’s started to ring.  It’s an option I’d never tried before so that was neat too.  It works quite well.  The time is now and once I was changed and out there was no stopping me.  I thought I’d packed everything so I had my first MRE (Meal Ready To Eat), testing out the claim that in a survival situation you could use bodily fluids to make the heating element work.  It did and was very hot but I won’t be trying that again unless the situation calls for it.  [:P]

Kayn_os continued to be a great host by giving everyone a lift across the Sturgeon River in his truck.  The ride across was a lot of fun and very welcome.  Most of our feet were spared getting wet that day and it started with this ride, thanks!  With 2 trips our group was complete and we said our goodbye.

And we’re off!  The first section was a nice back road, dotted here and there with puddles, some small, some covering across the whole road.  We made it through this part fairly quickly and met up with the COG contingent as they were having breakfast.  After a quick break we continued on through the camp and over an ATV bridge along a similar type road as before.  There was a discussion the day before and it seems there was an old ATV trail that headed north from the turn off that heads to the original bushwhackers trail.  We followed it along to overgrown trails.  There were small dead trees crossing the path here and there, the odd one that you’d have to crawl over or under but in general the trail was good.  We made it to the end and Team Goju noticed the GPS had come out of the clip.  Seems he must have a defective clip as this was the second time today.  After a quick search down the trail he returned empty handed.  We would have to search for it on the way back.  In the mean time Res2100 and I had stashed some Gatorade at the new “Bushwhack Start” for the trip back.

We started in.  I’m not sure who was in the lead but Team Goju had a machete and was in the mood to use it.  It was suggested not to anger the one with the machete and Team Goju was quickly moved to the front.    For me, I enjoyed the Bushwhacking.  I started off at the back, sometimes snapping the odd picture of a cool tree stump sometimes flicking on the Camcorder to show how the whacking went.  I found it was much easier to catch up going near the back as you could see the direction the front was ending up.  Usually I could find a slightly different route that was less troublesome or more challenging depending on my mood at the time.  At one point I decided I’d head to the front.  It’s always good to share the load on hikes like this and I felt it was important to take my share.  It was quite the challenge.  I found myself having to check the GPS time and again to get a bearing before deciding what route to take, along a ridge, maybe down a bit to lighter terrain.  I don’t think it mattered too much as the bush changed all the time, more or less difficult no matter the direction.

We were all surprised when an erratic rock formation appeared in front of our eyes right in the middle of the woods.  It was something that probably hasn’t been seen by human eyes before.  For any of us that had even the slightest interest in Geology this was an exciting find.  It wasn’t long before Team Goju had found a way up and a few of us joined him at the top. The top wasn’t flat and was angles at about 45 degrees towards the back.  It was covered in a mossy growth and was quite slippery.  We spent a bit there and snapped some pics.  I’m not sure if anyone was able to get the whole structure in as you’d need a wide angle due to the ridge next to it being so close.  Perhaps part of a gully created as the glaciers pushed these ancient rocks around.  There was a small cave at the bottom too.

The bushwhacking so far was a little slower than we expected.  Maybe our expectations were a little high but things are different when you’re actually in it.  Not long after the “Erratic Tina” we came to what seemed the base of the south peak.  I thought I’d do one of my scouting missions and see if there was an easy way nearer to the baseline with less brush in the way.  Early on it seemed that way and I was followed my Team Goju and Jefftrex.  We were able to stay in touch with the other easily at that point just by calling out.  Not long after, the ridge seemed to drop off drastically between us and the rest of the group and with a few calls back and forth it seemed we were going to take a different route.

We realized once we were out of earshot that we were without a radio.  I had forgotten to put them in my pack the night before and the others with me were without.  What might have been worse was that Team Goju’s water was in the back pack with the other group.  I had brought lots in my camel pack so gladly shared as we went along.  We continued going up, almost to the plateau of the south peak.  The lack of water and lack of sleep Thursday night was starting to take it toll on my companions as cramps and headaches started to take effect.  Frequent breaks were had as we ascended.  We found 2 streams along the way, one was free flowing and very clear.  My guess is it was the same one that fed the falls that the team below found on their journey to the top.  Team Goju decided to try out the water to conserve our supply.  I didn’t realize it until I started trying to mark things down below that my GPS’s waypoints were full.  One of those things I hadn’t learned yet about the Colorado was that when you scrap the GPX files it seems to leave the “Waypoints” there even though the caches had been removed.  I spent the rest of the trip having to delete a waypoint somewhere in order to mark a point of interest.

From there we continued upward to about 2010ft.  We were faced with a choice.  Continue to bushwhack northwest the long way around the ridge and come at the peak from the south west or try to hit the trail at Dick Lake requiring us to descend about 200ft.  We thought the trail was on the West side of the lake but couldn’t confirm it as the only one that had the trail on their GPS was Team Goju, the one that he lost, not the wonky spare GPS we were using now.  Eventually we decided to try for the trail.  15 minutes later and 218ft down we made it to Dick Lake.  There was no sign of a trail and it had started to cost me a little too.  My knees are bad when going down hill after a while and by the time I hit the shores of the lake they were starting to bother me.  I was dreading thinking about the hike down from the top.

Skirting the lake we made it to about the same point on the opposite side from where we came down.  It seemed there was nowhere to go but up so that’s just what we did.  We found a slightly less steep spot along the cliffs and made out way up the same 218ft we’d just come down.  There was a little stream running down the side of the rock face and I took a quick Cam shot before continuing up to the others. 

Up and over the edge we went looking for the best way to get to our destination then suddenly we caught sight of the tower.  That was the most beautiful site I could ever imagine at that moment.  We’d made it!  We’ll almost.  We had to go down to go up, again!  We called out and Roglatour called back.  I removed my blaze orange vest and waived it so he could see where we were.  We could see someone climbing the tower at the time too and it was tall!  There was no sign of the trail was so we just headed for the tower.  Yup, we bushwhacked all the way to the top!

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