Seagull, Oriana, Andie and I headed down the States for a 4-day trip to Horseshoe Basin in Pasayten Wilderness last weekend. Seagull & I left on Thursday morning, and the girls were supposed to meet us on Friday at the campsite. The weather forecast was calling for sun with possible (only 30%) thundershowers in the afternoons. It was very warm if the valley. In Loomis, the closest town to the trailhead, the weather was 34C... At the trailhead: 16C.
My car made it to the trailhead without too much difficulty. They say the logging road is only suitable for 4x4, but it's not the case.
On the road up there, we met a bunch of these guys in the middle of the road. They seem to wander freely all around in these hills.
Seagull and the car at the trailhead:
We hit the trailhead at 4pm. It was cloudy and we got a few drips of rain, but not much. The trail starts in the woods on an abandoned mining road.
We eventually crossed a first meadow and met this guy. He was completely alone.
We finally learnt that the horse was owned by a guy (a real cowboy!) whom we met the next day. He had lost his horse the day before and was looking for him...
Approaching Sunny Pass, the trail then opens to a more opened country:
Pictures from Sunny Pass (where is the sun?)
At Sunny Pass, we met a couple who was heading out after spending almost a week in the area. They told us the weather had been the same everyday: sunny in the morning, afternoon thunderstorms, and then nice again for the evening. They even said that it was hailing a lot the very same afternoon we hiked in.
We finally reached the campsite at Horseshoe Pass in a little less than a leisure 3 hours. Here are some pictures from the campsite on the first night. The sky started to clear just as we were setting up camp.
And then we got an amazing sunset:
The next morning we woke up in a glorious sun:
The beauty and interest of this trail is that the country is so opened that you can go anywhere you want. All surrounding peaks are easy and the views on top are amazing. On Friday morning, we decided to go up Armstrong Peak. This peak is located on the USA / Canada border.
On the way up:
The Armstrong ridge is quite big and you can explore in many directions.
There is a sign on top that mark the border. We also could clearly see the border line cut in the woods on the surrounding peaks.
More views from the top:
The sky was starting to cover pretty fast, so we decided to head down. We then met two guys who were going up. They were camping at Louden Lake, a little less than a mile from our campsite. They had tried to go up Armstrong the day before, but got caught by the thunderstorm. You really don't want to be on top of a ridge when there is lightning. So anyways they were coming back up as we were heading down. A few minutes after that, thunder and lightning started. Not lucky...
On the way down we met some friends:
Louden Lake when going down from Armstrong:
A little after we arrived in camp, the rain started. It then changed into hail and was very bad. We stayed in our tents part of the afternoon, until 5pm when the sky cleared. The sun was then back again. The weather pattern was repeating itself.
While Seagull was resting in camp, I decided to go to another hike in the area. I went down to little Smith Lake, and then went up Armstrong a little to get a better picture of Louden Lake.
When I came back down the girls were just arriving. To make a long story short, they had a bad car accident near Princeton and had to get a rental car to be able to reach us. I have to congratulate them for making it to the trailhead as most of us would have turned around after such an adventure.
The night was once again beautiful:
The Saturday morning was also sunny and beautiful. After a little talk with Mac whom we met on top of Armstrong the day before, we decided to go up Haig Mountain.
The closer we got to noon, the more clouds we were seeing. Thunder started a little before we reached the top, but we were kind of in the middle of a hole in the sky, and it wasn't raining on us. Lightning was in the background. Walking on Haig was like walking on the moon. Really interesting ridge to walk on, with beautiful views. We could see the rain in the distance.
We then got some of rain on the trail on the way back to the campsite, with lightning and thunder. When we reached the campsite, the worst started to happen. I have never seen such a storm in my entire life. Non-stop rain and hail, lightning, thunder, ... it was very very bad. We stayed in the tents from 2:30pm until 7am the next morning, without even eating dinner. It was a very good test for my tent thought, and I am happy to say that this tent is ready for the worst possible conditions.
On Sunday, we packed everything and started hiking out. When passing in front of Horseshoe mountain, Oriana, Andrea and I couldn't resist so we dropped our packs and went up there, while Seagull was heading out to wait for us at the trailhead.
It was a truly wonderful trip, even with all these afternoon storms. The weather in this area is fascinating. At one point on Saturday before the big storm, I could see the clouds coming from all directions to stop in the basin right above our heads, instead of just passing by as they would have done with a normal wind.
Thanks to Seagull, Oriana and Andie for their company!
Life is uncertain... Eat dessert first!