Leon Peak: Mesa County Highpoint

After an emotionally charged first week at my new job followed by a fun Paonia based weekend, I got a text from one of my #omniten buddies Josh letting me know that he would be passing through Grand Junction along with Shawn of Teton Sports and Jordan as part of a Teton Sports #yourlead tour.

Happy to see old friends, Sprocket and I loaded up after work on Friday and headed north. After enjoying a pizza at Hot Tomato in Fruita (fresh Palisade peaches, gorgonzola, and rosemary!!!) We all pitched our tents basically on the side of the road, got eaten alive by mosquitoes, and headed for bed. In the morning, we hiked just a short way into McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area enjoying the gorgeous views.

McInnis Canyons #yourlead

While the guys had to load up and head east for Denver, Sprocket and I decided that the day was young and we were going to go up to Grand Mesa and hike the Mesa County Highpoint. Although Leon Peak was a pretty short and sweet hike, it was Sprocket’s least favorite form of hiking. Big talus boulders do not make this puppy happy!

Leon Peak

Leon Peak

As always, I can count on him to push through and follow me to the top! He even drooled a bit on the benchmark before I could snap a photo:

Leon Peak Benchmark

Checking out the remains of the old lookout was pretty cool. It was built in 1911 or 1912 but was abandoned after the end of the 1915 season due to heavy lightning activity on the peak.

 

Leon Peak Lookout

leon peak usfs

The views all around were pretty much amazing though. I loved this hike (aside from knowing Sprocket wasn’t really crazy about it).

Leon Peak views

Views from Leon Peak

Distance: Round trip about 2.8 mi

Elevation gain: 600+ feet

Sprocket rating: Not particularly dog friendly. One imaginary thumb down.

#hikerchat Sunset Adventure: Lake Blanche

While I was at the Outdoor Retailer Show, I received a last minute invitation to join in on a sunset #hikerchat adventure to Lake Blanche. Never one to turn down a hike, I heartily accepted the invitation.

Photo courtesy Teton Sports
Photo courtesy Teton Sports

This was not a hike I was super prepared for. I didn’t have a warm layer for after dark, my headlamp was in a different pack, and I certainly hadn’t prepared for a late-late dinner. (I also didn’t have a camera so all my photos are courtesy my hiking buddies.) Really, it didn’t matter all that much. It was a gorgeous hike and I was happy to have met a bunch of great people.

Photo Courtesy Worth Baker
Photo Courtesy Worth Baker

With a group our size, we didn’t make amazing time up the trail but we did arrive at the lake just in time to take in the last bits of sun through the SLC smog. Along the way, I chatted with Jordan about an epic traverse of the basin rim he’d done recently—I can definitely see more adventure with him in the 3Up future!

Photo courtesy Worth Baker
Photo courtesy Worth Baker
Photo courtesy Tanya Sylvan
Photo courtesy Tanya Sylvan

As we left the lake, I jumped into the lead. The moon was bright and I had a sneaking suspicion I could make it quite awhile before I had to accept one of the flash lights being offered to me as long as I didn’t get blinded by the artificial lights of others. Eventually it became a challenge to make it down the whole way—I totally succeeded! It was late before we were all back at the trailhead and headed back to town. I wrapped up the evening with a midnight diner dinner with Josh, Jordan, Adam N., and ThatOutdoorGuy Adam. This pretty much sums up our dinner:

Photo courtesy Hiking The Trail
Photo courtesy Hiking The Trail

Thanks to American Backcountry and Teton Sports for sponsoring the hike! I had a blast.

Gear Review: Teton Sports Summit 1500

Photo The Morning Fresh
Photo The Morning Fresh

On the #hikerchat adventure during Summer Outdoor Retailer Show, Forrest and I both got a Teton Sports Summit 1500 to test out. My old Jansport was too bulky to for a comfortable all day mountain pack (and it was reaching the end of it’s life) so I’d been in the market for a new daypack. It wasn’t long before I was more than happy to adopt the Summit 1500 as my go-to pack.

Teton Sports Summit 1500 on Mt. Sneffels

I used it on several 14-ers hikes last year, often carrying everything for both F and I on long days. The pack was comfortable to wear on hikes as long as fifteen miles. The nylon construction seems to hold up well to abrasion from rocks and vegetation.

The pack has tons of pockets for a daypack which can be nice to stash rarely used items like first aid kits, a compass, etc. I’m a really big fan of having a “hood pocket”: a great place for stashing a map and other regularly used items. The velcro gear loop can help to carry many types of year but I’ve used it several times to carry a tripod:

Teton Sports

I even packed for non-camping weekend trips with it to avoid checked baggage fees (it’s even small enough to evade carry on fees with some budget airlines!). At $59.99 on Amazon, this pack is a great value that I can recommend to nearly anyone looking for a new day pack.

#Hikerchat Hike

OR Show is an interesting experience. You’re surrounded by awesome outdoor gear and pictures of people doing awesome outdoor things but yet you’re (happily) trapped in a twilight zone. (F quipped: “This place is like Vegas, I have no idea what time it is.”) Fortunately, we were able to scratch the outdoor itch with a #hikerchat adventure planned for Saturday sponsored by Teton Sports, Goal Zero, Good2Go Bar, and American Backcountry.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

We met up at Teton Sports and carpooled up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the trailhead. Besides our sponsors, we were joined by Katie and Niko of Simply Adventure, Kristie of An Appetite for Adventure, Haley of Climb Run Lift Mom, Eileen of Rockgrrl, Josh of Experience.Via.Imagination, Paul of The Outdoor Adventure, Kat, Jacalyn, and more that I’m forgetting to mention… (Remind me in the comments and I’ll add you, promise!)

Hiker Chat

#hikerchat

It was so much fun to be hiking with a big group of people and just hearing laughter floating through the fresh mountain air. Stories of travel, climbing, and of course hiking were the order of the day.

source: The Morning Fresh
source: The Morning Fresh

#hikerchat

Haley spent last year as a Grassroots ambassador for Stonewear Designs and it turns out we were both rocking Stonewear on the trail!

Stonewear Ambassadors

At the saddle above Catherine’s Lake, Shawn laid out he plan for what was to come: the group was going to head for a minor summit followed by Sunset Peak. Forrest and I took a look at the basin and glanced at each other. “I think we can hike around the lake,” he said. “I want that third summit,” I replied. And we were off: on a mission to loop back to the saddle in time to meet the group.

Lake Catherine

Wasatch views

We were about two-thirds of the way up Sunset Peak when we realized that we were really going to have to kick it into gear if we were going to not have anyone waiting on us!

Ridgeline hiking

Somehow, Forrest always winds up taking pictures of me in caves, hollow, trees, etc. This trip was no different:

Beth in cave

And a cheesy self-portrait:

Beth and Forrest, summit of Pinnacle Peak

The rest of the #hikerchat gang on Sunset Peak:

#hikerchat on Sunset Peak

Lake Catherine

Grabbing the summit of Pinnacle Peak was pretty awesome but seeing this beautiful guy (and his friend) was definitely the highlight of the 3Up Adventures route:

Moose in velvet

Moose in velvet

Moose in velvet

In the end, Forrest and I covered 8.6 miles with about 1,700 feet of elevation gain. Not too shabby. 🙂

#hikerchat hike, 3Up Adventures style

Elevation Gain

The #HikerChat Adventure from other views:

Paul: #HikerChat Summer Meetup 2013 – Outdoor Retailer 2013 video

Kristie: OR Show, a successful summit, and self-toasts