Posted on 07 Jul 2022 by Steve Markham
Nine Markhams (and sixteen thousand mosquitoes) went backpacking in the Grandaddy Basin Tuesday to Thursday. This was the first backpacking trip for everyone except Camille and me. I had a blast, though perhaps not everyone did.
The fun started on Sunday when Jeff and I went to Paul Hoskisson’s place to borrow some bear cans. He ended up also loaning us a couple of very nice packs, a cot, a stove, and some ponchos. He is very generous–I’m not sure I could stomach lending >$1k of gear to a bunch of first-timers. On Monday we laid out all the gear I had brought, plus several things Dewey had ordered. And then we made a Walmart list and picked up some last-minute stuff.
Tuesday morning Jeff went to BYU Outdoors Unlimited to pick up a couple rented items. We picked up Bradley just past Heber, and arrived at the trailhead around noon. By the time we had eaten our lunch and packed the rented items, it was 1 o’clock. If I remember correctly, the pack weights were 53, 38, 30, 26, 24, 23, 20, 20, 20.
The trail was dusty, wide, well-trodden, and easy to follow. I was pleasantly surprised to cross two streams before we had even got to Hades Pass. I was in the back with a slow-ish hiker, so I never broke a sweat and therefore hardly drank any water. But everyone else was ready for a refill after about two miles.
Hades Pass was beautiful, and we took a long break there. This was the end of the uphill portion, and about two-thirds of the mileage.
We hadn’t been making great time, but that was to be expected. We had to stop once to re-adjust some weight, once to do a body inventory looking for hot spots on feet or problems in back or shoulders. And of course there was no air so a couple of us were going slowly. I think it was 4:30 or so when we started down from Hades Pass.
On the way down we were passed by a father and two sons headed to a fishing hole on Grandaddy Lake. We had also crossed two older couples on their way out from hiking East Grandaddy Mountain. Otherwise, not many people on the trail. We had planned on camping near a spring on Betsy Lake, but there were two campers already at that established fire ring, so we hunted for a different spot. We found one not too far off, built a fire ring, set up tents, and started dinner.
Melanie was extremely excited to be backpacking. I had assumed that’s because she had gone before and knew how fun it is. Nope! She has friends who have told her about it, and she was excited to learn and experience it first-hand. So, she would carefully observe everything I did, and was ready to copy/help. That means she made seconds of dinner while I ate my firsts. Kate and Ben had been less enthusiastic then Melanie, but were also very helpful that first night at camp.
Wednesday we hiked over past Mohawk Lake toward West Grandaddy. The original plan was to go up to the ridge, maybe hit the summit, and then come back down off the ridge past Fish Hatchery Lake. But we opted for a shorter walk and funner activity, so we went half-way up the side of West Grandaddy instead. It was FUN!
It was lovely sitting in the sun and breeze, throwing snowballs, climbing around, and chatting. I could have stayed all morning, and apparently so could everyone else, because we stayed quite a while.
Eventually it was time for lunch and swimming, so we headed back to camp.
Lunch was mac and cheese. Turns out 5 boxes is too much for my cookpot, so the water was super starchy and the pasta didn’t fully cook but it wasn’t too bad. Then, we got on swim stuff, packed up some water and sunblock, and headed back to the beach.
As soon as my toe touched the water, the sky got dark and the clouds looked rainy. We all at least waded, though two clever members of the group managed to avoid getting their entires bodies soaking wet with frigid water.
To make a long story short, we had no sun to dry off in, so the swim party didn’t last very long. We got sprinkled on as we walked back, and then had a few minutes of big hail once we were back at camp. I got into my sleeping bag and didn’t get out until I was cozy warm again, which took about an hour.
By then it was sunny again, so we went for a walk around Betsy Lake. I think everyone came but Luke.
Wednesday night we had a poetry contest. Everyone could submit up to three hike-u’s. Most were silly and funny. My entry was a mix:
Granddaddy features: Steep hike, cold swim, mosquitos, Cat holes, and snoring
Beautiful vistas, Tasty backcountry dining, Lots of cousin time
Get your gear ready The party’s at Betsy lake See you on the trail.
Camille’s entries were great. Here are a few, including a couple she didn’t actually enter into the contest:
Climbing up some rocks Don’t fall down and break your head then you would feel sad
Small purple flowers funny skinny Utah trees mountains that are gray
way too much sunscreen bug repellent till it’s gone burnt and bitten anyway
Rip’ling, swirling ponds flowers and moss by the trail it’s so pretty here
This was her contest-winning entry:
ferns and grass and trees butterflies and bumblebees blue skies, gentle breeze
We had Cheddar Broccoli Chicken for dinner and some more s’mores for dessert.
Thursday we hiked out. I’ll add some more detail here later, but suffice it to say Jeff and kids left first, and the non-Dalmarks left together around 8:30. We hiked up the side of East Grandaddy on our way out.
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