Hiking The Highline Trail to WFBF With R. Ned McArthur, D.C. Part 8
We all knew that our time was getting short, but we've been looking forward to this day because we get to go over Dead Horse Pass.
If you've been following along you'll know that Dead Horse is the second mountain pass for us to cross this week. As with Rocky Sea Pass, we planned our campsite so we could get up and over each pass early in the morning, to hopefully avoid any potential lightning storms, which usually come in the early afternoon.
After leaving Ledge Lake there was a short, fairly steep climb in the trees. After coming out of the trees we were at the top of the basin and it's so wide open it creates beautiful views which would other wise be unremarkable landscape.
I have to admit how much I enjoyed the scenery during the approach to Dead Horse. Wow! It's like God stair stepped the earth to make this approach easy. As I said, the earth is layered like giant stairs. It's flat hiking for a little while and then you step up to the next level and repeat.
Then we started climbing. This is a well marked trail without any snow, but is mild to moderately steep switch backs.
Roman, who lead the way all week long, encouraged us through this rocky stretch. His enthusiasm provided a good teaching moment about hiking. I told him that when climbing switch backs through rocks to wait at each bend for people below to catch up so he wasn't on an above switch back knocking down rocks. Good manners, even in the backcountry, are mandatory.
I have to admit this was a life moment for me. The climb up, the wind on top, the views and being with my kids. It gets me a little emotional, even now thinking back on it.
To descend you actually go on the Rock Creek Basin side around the rock here and then switch backs start down into the West Fork Black's Fork Drainage.
If there is one place you want to be careful - this is it. The trail is still well marked but these switch backs, with occasional patches of snow along the path were far more sketchy than anything we've done all week.
For the above reasons, it would have been very tempting to camp here, but there were already a few tents around the lake and we knew every mile he hiked today was one less that we had to hike tomorrow on our way out. So we continued until we all felt it was time to take off the packs.