Thursday, June 25, 2009

Medicine Bow National Forest: Laramie Peak

After work yesterday evening, Noelle and I loaded the camping gear into the Civic and headed into Hot Springs. We had a few chores to complete before we would head into Wyoming for our days off. First we went food shopping for some dinners, breakfasts, and a few snacks. We then went to the library to return some videos that we had borrowed. Finally, we got some dinner at Wooly’s. From there we pointed the Civic south, then west to Medicine Bow National Forest and a campsite at Friend Park Campground. It was a long drive over some rough roads, but we finally arrived in camp at around midnight.

After a good night’s sleep we awoke in the morning, grabbed a quick breakfast, and then hit the trail. Our destination would be the summit of 10,210 foot Laramie. The hiking was pleasant and easy up a multiple-use trail shared with ATVs. Luckily we didn’t see (or hear or smell) any of these on our ascent. The weather was the best we’ve had on any of our days off. We enjoyed clear, blue skies, and moderately warm temperatures.
Noelle Throwing a Snowball on the way up Laramie Peak
We reached the peak area by around noon and spent some time exploring.
The actual summit, I discovered, was actually on top of a large boulder. Getting up there would require some pretty exposed scrambling. I spent some time studying the boulder from different angles and determined that the easiest, least exposed route to the top consisted of chimneying up a large crack, then ascending a nearly vertical slap with the aid of a rusty, old chain. I was hesitant to proceed any further, but eventually got the guts to use the chain and attained the summit.

The summit itself was actually pretty interesting. Besides the USGS benchmark, there were some interesting old carvings in the granite up there. They were signatures from visitors in the early 1900s. After a few minutes gazing at the view and looking at the signatures, I knew it was time to brave a tricky descent. I hate down climbing. It seems so much more difficult than climbing up a rock. Many a time in the past have I scrambled up a vertical cliff face with no problem, only to freeze at a difficult section on the descent. This time, however, the down climbing was easier than I anticipated, and I was reunited with Noelle in no time at all. We then took some photos and began our descent.

The descent was largely routine, other than the sight of some ATVers whose vehicle was stuck at some large rocks about ¼ mile from the summit. They were trying to use a winch to pull one of them up and Noelle and I were forced to take a break and watch them. “How much further to the top”, one asked. We told them that it was not much further and one of them replied “what a shame”, as if their legs were incapable of propelling them to the top.

After getting back to the campground we packed up camp and hit the road. It was nice to see all the views we had missed the night before. After a long stretch of rough, dirt roads we were finally back to the pavement and the metropolis of Douglas, Wyoming. From there we hit I-25 north (even though the road actually goes west at this point) and stopped at Ayres Natural Bridge.
We had a pleasant visit there, and then headed further west to Casper, Wyoming and our campsite on Casper Mountain.

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