Thursday, February 3, 2011

Climbing Mt. Baldy in a Storm!

My brother, Gary, called and suggested a climb of Mt. Baldy.  Sounds great, when?  After we confirmed the date, we started preparing to snowshoe up Mt. Baldy.  I did discover that Mt. Baldy was a large sand dune that was 126 feet above Lake Michigan in the Arcadia Dunes area.

Thursday morning the temperature was in the teens and the sun was out.  How bad could that be?

I left home a little after 9:00 am to meet Gary by 10:00 am.  I stopped for air in the tires and to get gas for the car.  As I headed across to M-22 from M-31, the weather and sun were still cooperating.  Pulling into the parking lot, I saw Gary and his car.

* Remember to click on any picture to enlarge it!

As I see Gary get ready, I notice several things.  One, Gary has goggles on.  He didn't say anything to me and didn't wear them on the Cross Country Ski trip.  Two, Gary has gaiters on.  I don't.  Three, Gary has face protection.  That is ok.  Fourth, he doesn't have water or snacks on his body.  I do.  I learned from the last trip.  This is to be a short snowshoe trip up to the top.

I have a drink and two bars in my fanny pack.  I notice the wind is stronger here because we are close to Lake Michigan, so up goes the hood.  I have a fleece jacket on under the nylon shell this time.

I know there are two trails up to the top of Mt. Baldy. One is about one mile and the other is about 2 miles.  Which one do we take, Gary?  We had the big storm two days ago so there isn't much of a trail and the snow is deep.  This is the pretty woods trail.

I thought this tree was very interesting.  The pink blaze stands for something but I don't know what it is.

*Hold it Stauffer, your title says "Climbing Mt Baldy in a Storm"!  What's with that?

Patience, Grasshopper, the truth will be revealed!

The sun is shining and the weather is nice.  The woods are a lovely place to snowshoe.  In the distance you can just make out some hills.  I wonder where the trail is taking us?

I take pictures and Gary gets ahead. He is a good brother and blazes the trail.....but he is going towards a small hill

It gets a little steeper right here.  Remember, Gary, we are on snowshoes!

Click on the picture if you want to see what is on the sign.    The little green pictureat the bottom of the sign is a map of where we are.  Good to know when you are hiking.  But we can just follow our tracks back.

Gee, I can see Lake Michigan.   I also notice that the wind has picked up considerably up near the the top of the dunes.  The wind has blown over the trail and we have to guess our way forward.   ....not a good sign, is it?

There is a reason my back is towards the lake.  The wind has really picked up now.  We estimate between 35-40 mph!  Our tracks are already covered over.

The trail stops here.  It is too thick and steep to go any further.  We are only a mile from the parking lot but it seems further away.  OK, I guess we head back to find the lake view.

This is looking back the way we came in.  The wind has already covered our tracks.  Now I know why my brother brought goggles.  The sand is on top of the snow as you can see.  It is blowing hard.  Have you watched the hike up to base camp on Mt. Everest?  If you look ahead of Gary, you will see small ridges that are steep on each side.  You are to walk on top of the ridges to get over to see the lake.

The wind is bad here and we are trying to find a spot for a picture.  I can taste sand in my mouth and in my eyes.

This is as good of a picture as I could take.  I had my head turned against the wind and just snapped the shot.  The wind was throwing snow and sand everywhere.  It will be fun to return this spring and actually hike some more.

It has been an hour of fun but now we have to head back.  Gary is leading the way down.  The snow is deep and my hiking pole would slip down half of it's length down into the snow.

Gary, didn't even drink any liquid on the trip.  He is either marking the territory or lightening the load!

Well, that was a fun trip.  It was only about two hours  long but it was fun to snowshoe in dunes.  Check the Traverse City paper and you will find that Sleeping Bear and Arcadia Dunes both have snowshoeing trips on weekends.  Any suggestions for our next trip?

* Gary called and said it was "gale force winds".

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