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Author Topic: July 9th, 2017, Little Tuckerman Bowl, Colorado  (Read 466 times)
MW88888888
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July 9th, 2017, Little Tuckerman Bowl, Colorado
« on: 07/10/17, 07:44 PM »

July 9th, 2017
Mt Caribou, Front Range, Colorado
Little Tuckerman Bowl

Day 63


There are only a few peaks along the Front Range that I haven’t skied or tried to ski, but how did Mt Caribou’s “Little Tuckerman Bowl” escape my intentions for so long? 

A silly question when reviewing the hit parade of peaks through the years, but geez, I wonder how many Westerners have skied there, and why would they compare it the crucible of my backcountry obsession?  One had to find out.

I typed “Little Tuckerman” into the search engine to see if there were pics of the bowl and hints on the bushwhack to get there.  Of course, a bunch of NH feeds popped up, one from a TGR post immediately caught my eye: "July 1st skiing in Tuckerman"…and the usual depressing jabs in response raised my ire (“that ain’t skiing”, “get a bike”, etc).  Typical.  Here these guys hike for 3,000 VF to get turns in out East in July and the small minded folks on TGR ridicule them for such an awesome display of passion.  It is only because they can’t get off the couch to do their own thing that they bring everyone else down. Argghhhh…..well, not this fella!  Good on you boys and I’ll carry that torch out West for you…my search for information on Mt Caribou’s namesake bowl intensified…it was 4 pm.

But to no avail. 

There were zero articles about the scene in from the bowl in the Indian Peaks, but when has that every stopped me?

***

Summer skiing in Colorado has two windows in my mind, two sessions that are available to those inclined to earn your turns…7 am to about noon, then the thunderstorm break until just before nightfall, when another ski session opens up from about 6 pm to darkness.   The second window is tricky as there is no certainty the storms will end (unlike the 7 am shift which you can set your watch to), but at least it wouldn’t be hard pack and dangerous if the snow is past its prime, like some frozen mornings at altitude.   The only challenge, of course, is getting out before darkness.  Or at least “out of danger” before darkness. I walked outside to the back of my house where I could see the Front Range…and it appeared the last waves of storms had rode out to Kansas with no caboose to speak of.  And a full moon tonight if I mess up my plan.   

Time to go. 

***

I was still pretty charged up about the TGR posters and I think that translated into my aggressive behavior at the Rainbow Lakes trailhead.  I stormed out into the trail at 605pm - this time with “Confusion is Sex” (another Sonic Youth sound fest only for the  consummate aficionado, everyone else thinks it’s nails on a chalkboard with drums) bleeding out my sound system.  I was not too concerned with giving people their wilderness experience as I had to deal with people’s dogs as I walked up toward the namesake lakes.   If I had to deal with fido, they were going to have to deal with my obnoxious noise!  At least I would not surprise said dog - I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been running back down a trail and surprised the family pet who would then bark and growl at me as I approached him, with the owner usually running up the trail apologizing and trying to restrain the upset dog, ahhh, the humanity.

I smiled and/or ignored everyone I passed depending on their presence of mind, and arrived at what I believed was the start of the bushwhack, two small wooden bridges over a small stream coming down from the woods.  Off I went in search of the bowl.

Not more then two hundred meters into the thicket and I turned off my music - I needed to hear the stream gurgling in the underbrush to follow it, keeping it within earshot as I worked up in altitude.  I came to a flat area where the stream took a turn North, and based on my topo map, I believed I needed to stay left.  So into the thicket I went, following a shallow rib up into the woods, in the hopes I could follow it back if it turned out to be a mistake. 

A little higher and I got the first scare of the night as something large started to move above me in the woods, “crack!” went the branches underfoot of something much, much larger than a rodent or small deer.  Oh Christ.  I had just read a couple articles about bear attacks - one right down in Ward not 5 miles as the crow flies - but the animal I was most afraid of was a Moose - no, make that a mama moose with a cub - and this pearl necklace of swampy ponds following the creek was Moose heaven.  Yikes.

I stopped and listened.   And the sounds moved off the ridge to the north.  I don’t know what it was, nor do I want to know.

I decided to stay on the south side of the ridge.

***

At 735 pm I needed to make a decision. 

I was standing in the smooth, grassy outlet of Little Tuckerman Bowl.  I could reasonably understand why one would compare it to Mt Washington’s Tuckerman Bowl, the diminutive “little” I think a  nod to the fact that the skiing in this particular bowl looked much more mellow then its eastern brethren, but some similarities did exist.  If Ron Haddad says this looked like Tuckerman Bowl, well, good on you, Ron.  I’ll give you this one.

But darkness was looming in my mind and the bushwhack back, which I knew deep down I had covered between compass, map and the easy terrain features to follow, but I absolutely did not want to waste time in the dark bushwhacking with the fear of getting hurt or running into any fauna bedding down for the night.  I shivered again thinking of Ma Moose.

But ahead!  A whole new bowl of glorious runs.  How come I hadn’t come here before?  Yum!  Smooth corn on the lower headwall pulled me upward.

If this bowl were indeed back East, there would be a well-trodden path and circus like atmosphere as the turns were had in this magnificent little bowl.  But here in Colorado, this was just one more snow patch on the horizon, totally overlooked for easier prey.

I knew I didn’t have enough time to summit.  But how far should I go?   I was contemplating the bushwhack back in the dark - unappetizing for sure - or going up and over the top and following the summit trail down.  This would surely mean a night return as I would have to climb the bowl twice - no way was I not snowboarding this thing after all this!

I sat down at the top of the lower snowfield and contemplated my fate.  I couldn’t eat, even though I was on day 7 of a detox diet (salmon and baby spinach haunting my bowels), and I felt the sweat drying from my skin, my one water bottle half full.  I ate an apple and watched the sun setting over the plains far, far below. 

***

The snowboarding was very, very nice.  If too, too short.  The summer corn here was not too dirty and certainly smooth, and 3/4” deep for very pleasant carving. 

I only skied the the lower bowl once and starting my decent.  It was, after all, my test run up here, and now that I knew the way, it would go down that much easier next time.

Let’s make sure there was a next time.

***

I decided I would follow the left side of the basin out toward the lakes, dead reckoning through the woods instead of trying to follow the stream.  I don’t know how I do these things, but giddy with excitement I arrived at the wooden bridges where I had left the trail a couple hours before.  I do think that I survive on a (healthy?) diet of the sense of relief and sensation of joy at seeing my family again every time I survive one of these exploits.  I danced down the trail 4 feet above the ground in happiness, with another place to call to mind when the job gets boring, the summer drags on and the start of football season dominates the human condition.




[no option for posting pictures in July, and I refuse to do Facebook or whatever]


* contemplating_my_descent.JPG (96.8 KB, 640x480 - viewed 227 times.)

* Little_tuckerman_bowl_in_the_evening.JPG (83.03 KB, 640x480 - viewed 232 times.)

* glorious_trail_home.JPG (122.65 KB, 640x480 - viewed 234 times.)
« Last Edit: 07/21/17, 07:54 PM by MW88888888 » Logged
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