Fun attempting Tikaboo (long)

Message posted by JB737 on December 26, 2007 at 8:05:15 PST:

On Friday December 21, I headed up to attempt Tikaboo or the north peak. Gas/restrooms and 2 extra gallons of water at Alamo Chevron, then onto the road to Tikaboo.

Uneventful through gate. Started taking video on point/shoot camera. Made sharp right turn OK. Started picking up a bit of snow on road, still easy going. Not really snow-covered until well after the seismic station. The video makes a 25mph easy drive in rental compact car seem like a 125mph death-defying run on a superbike. Maybe I shouldn't have propped it on top of steering wheel, but the tilting horizon on turns looks so cool. :-)

Not too many miles after the road became snow covered, I had to stop filming and devote full time to driving. Soon 2-4 inches rather than the previous 1-2. On some stretches, I had to back up several times and take multiple runs to pack the snow down enough to make it through. Bravo to the road builders/graders: never was I in too much danger of sliding off sideways when losing traction or backing down, although a couple of times it was starting to look that way.

Then I hit a triple-bounce washboard section, and was through it before I realized how bad it was and how close to bottoming out the car, rather than just the suspension, that I had been.

Then a semi-scary looking wash with a tree and snow-free flat gully on the left, which looked like a promising turnaround spot if unable to get through. After getting out and taking a good look, I decided to take a run through it, and got through fine.

Then more uphill multi-run trailbreaking until a wash stopped me around elevation 6258, 100 feet or so beyond where I eventually parked at N37 19.878 W115 19.135.

Quite a trick to turn the car around, but I found a spot to start a "19 point turn" which in fact ended up being a one point turn, spinning the front wheels to let the car pivot downhill anchored by the right rear wheel.

I then slept in the car for a few hours before heading up the road on foot with backpacks front and rear. I left a white LED flashlight pointing through a water bottle on the dashboard, to warn anyone driving up, that I was parked barely off to the side. Good thing I did that, too.

24 minutes of crunching through about 4" of snow got me 0.4 miles of the 2.0 miles to go past the wash. I couldn't believe my eyes that the GPS said I had gained only 72 feet of elevation, but Google Earth later confirmed that I gained only around 100 feet. It felt like 250 or 300 feet of climbing, amazing how much energy even easy snow crunching uses. I was debating turning around, versus plodding on for maybe 2-3 hours before gauging my progress vs my schedule. I was leaning toward turning around, because a perfectly clear sky had changed to thin clouds rapidly moving in, and appearing to slowly get less and less thin. A zillion stars were now a thousand stars. I'd sure hate to descend in more snow on the road than there was already.

Then something helped me make up my mind more quickly. I saw lights coming up, probably not much farther away than my car. I knew I wasn't blocking them, so I hoped they were friend rather than foe. I went into "IFF mode" while also planning an escape if necessary. I hurried back down 0.1 of the 0.4 miles on the road, then saw they were certainly above my car already. I detoured into the woods, still flying downhill. Hard to hide when you are leaving snow tracks, but it gave me a headstart on them if they followed my tracks into the woods. With my car pointed downhill already, and them above it and pointed uphill, avoidance/escape was an option.

Then I noticed multiple spotlights waving at treetops, hills, everywhere. Maybe Linda called the sheriff to go look for me, if she noticed I had forgotten the matches for my hiking stove, and also forgotten to call her from Alamo after buying some there. Or maybe it is just hunters. Either way, I'm heading back to the road before I get accidentally shot. Arriving back on the road, I notice my hat is gone, and here is a semi-monster 4WD crew cab coming around the curve. So they must have thought they'd run across a deranged person, hiking with backpacks front and rear, but no hat, just a headlamp!

Anyway, we said hello, they asked if I was OK, etc. I would have asked them for a ride as far as they were going, but there was no way I was climbing Tikaboo without a hat, so I just continued down.

I got to the car, and averaged 12mph downhill until a mile or two below the 4WD road to Alamo, where I met a semi-monster SUV coming up. Two or more friends in that vehicle, were heading up to 4-wheel and check out the wildlife situation with three or more friends in the first vehicle.

I plodded along some more at 12mph average, then noticed both vehicles coming down in my direction. Although they were a friendly bunch, I decided to be the first one back on pavement. Except for my 2 minute stop to untie/pass/retie the gate, I averaged 29mph the rest of the way to 93.

All in all, it was a blast, despite never getting above 6360 feet, and under an hour of exercise.

I'll do a later post with details about clothing, equipment, and preparation for this hike, plus recommendations on what I would do differently.

It is definitely doable, with preparation and the proper weather, time, and fitness. Hat or no hat, I'm not sure I could have made it in the time I allotted, after my schedule changed due to weather forecasts for days earlier in the week, combined with prior commitments on Saturday, which my Friday afternoon start from Vegas was bumping up against.



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