West Osceola is on the Trailwrights list, which Alex and I hope to finish soon after we return from the John Muir Trail. We hope to get all but two of her remaining peaks before we leave. This is ambitious, and I'm not sure it can be done, but we'll have fun trying. We're also trying to finish up Sage's 52WAV list...we'll see what happens. At the latest, both girls should finish their lists before the end of September.
I didn't count Middle Osceola and Osceola as part of the 21 peaks we're trying to bag before the end of July, but I'll certainly count them if we fall a bit short of our intended goal. :)
We awoke early Sunday morning and hit the trail at 5:30. We wanted to a) beat the heat that was in the midday forecast and b) beat the crowds. We try to stay off popular trails on weekends during peak hiker-season. We enjoy the company of others, but it's nice to have a mountain to yourself. Our early start gave us the trail to ourselves during our ascent.
I won't bother with the photos of Mt. Osceola Trail, since you can find plenty of those in my earlier trip reports (here, here, and here) or on other hikers' blogs. Instead, I'll start with the turn off of Mt. Osceola Trail onto the bushwhack.
The herd path begins at the last switchback on the way up, one or two tenths of a mile from the summit. Ascending, the path turns left off the trail...the girls point the way in the photo below.
Note the small rectangular stone at the entrance, to the left of the herd path. When you're looking directly at the herd path from the trail, this is what you will see...
The herd path is well defined for a tenth of a mile or so...
...and then, not long after passing a boulder (glacial erratic), you run into a thick jumble of blowdowns. We headed to the right around the blowdowns, then we (sometimes) followed old herd paths and (often) climbed over, through, and under trees, branches, and logs. It's a ridgewalk, so it's difficult to get lost since you can see where the slopes on either side of you begin to steeply descend. Stay on the ridge and keep plowing along, and you'll get to Middle Osceola.
The photos below somewhat document our 'whack to Middle (which we've visited before).
|This dirt/rock scramble was over my head and
those trees are not firmly rooted. Fun!
|The girls enjoyed climbing through everything.
|View through the trees
|Little viewpoint not far from Middle Osceola's summit
We reached Middle Osceola's summit and once again found no evidence of a canister. We took a short water break, then plunged downward into the col between Middle and West Osceola.
Though we hadn't before visited this section of woods, the route finding was easy. Both sides of the ridge are almost always a short distance away, so it's easy to stay on top...just not-so-easy to fight your way through the thick bunches of branches/logs/trunks. There are old herd paths here and there, and sometimes the woods open up a bit, but blowdowns and overgrowth a-plenty are here, there, and everywhere.
As you near West Osceola, stay close to the left (south/western) section of the ridge. You will run right into the cliffs...follow the faint herd path to the right -- that quickly turns back to the left and becomes more obvious. It will go straight up, steeply, with a view of Middle Osceola to your left and through the trees...
until you reach the bottom of Peggy's Perch.
Climb up...but have a care, those trees on the left of the climb are not firmly rooted! Once up, sit and take in the views (the herd path continues to the left of Sage in the photo below, at the top of Peggy's Perch).
Peggy's Perch is a short distance away from the summit.
|Congratulations on another Trailwrights peak, Alex!
Seven more to go!
It was 8:45 am when we reached West Osceola. We were grateful for our early start, because we could already feel the day getting warm and we would not have wanted to ascend Mt. Osceola Trail in 80+ degree weather.
The girls and I made our way back to the maintained trail and jogged up to the main summit, to see if we might still beat the weekend crowds to the main peak. Almost, but not quite...a group of four men were standing on the peak admiring the views. I recognized one of the men as Marty, whom I've run into a few times on the trails. He's a kind fellow and it was nice to see him again. The others introduced themselves and we exchanged pleasantries, then the gentlemen left for East Osceola and we had the summit ledges to ourselves for a bit.
|Main summit ledges.
|Alex naps while Sage has a "negative outcome."
We left the summit area at 10:30 and began the descent. The parade of hikers and dogs began not long afterward...every five minutes, we'd pass a couple or a group, most of them with dogs. ALL the dogs were extremely well-behaved and ALL the people were joyful and smiling. It was nice, I enjoyed it...I usually steer clear of crowds, but yesterday's descent was extremely enjoyable. Perhaps I've allowed myself to become too much of a hermit lately. Lots of people on the trails can be fun.
We made it back to the car around 12:30. The heat was becoming intense and all three of us were VERY glad we'd had an early start.
NOTE -- we wisely did NOT bring our JMT packs on this hike. They would have been torn to shreds. We used our old packs and wore old clothes.
Here's some visual documentation of our bushwhacking wounds...struggling through/over/under/around sharp branches can be bad for your skin (and clothing!)...
We were going to do an overnight tonight, but we had to stay home today due to last-minute errands. Instead, we're hiking early tomorrow morning and all day Wednesday. I should have those two trip reports up by late Thursday evening.