Sunday, November 18, 2007

Reaching Army Pass (Cottonwood Lakes Part 2)

As I was reaching the main area that has all the Cottonwood lakes I was marveling at Mt. Langley. I had seen it in so many movies since it is just to the left of Lone Pine Peak from down below. This was a different angle. Although I had an idea in my head how the trail went I was not totally sure how I would get up to it. I was just using my intuition on the trails; there were a few times it split off.
The following is Cottonwood #3. That morning I had hiked to this area and thought how fun it would be to get up to Mt. Langley and not see anyone at all. I truly felt I had entered the wilderness. It was right before I got to this lake that I noticed that everyone camped near this lake. Everyone was packing up for what the intended to do on this day. Some were getting ready to fish. I saw a couple take off before me. It was obvious that they were heading to where I was going.
It was good to see this couple in front of me since it helped me in figuring out where I would go. They stopped a little further on the right side of this lake below and talked to a fisherman. I greeting them nearby and passed them. They said they would be right behind me, and I told them that they would probably pass me up. I was feeling good, but I figured they would have fresh legs and get up quicker than I would. This is Cottonwood #4. The trail goes on the right side of the lake. Then it starts to switchback up the headwall. You top up just a little over the middle right of the picture.
As I around and started to switchback up the headwall I looked back. The couple I had seen earlier was not going as fast as I thought they would. I believe the woman had some problem with her legs. So, I never saw them again. I knew there would be others coming up eventually since I had heard someone say they would meet them on top.
As I got higher up and I had a great shot of Lakes #4 and #5.
I can not remember how long it took to get up the headwall. It was probably no more than forty minutes to an hour at most. I was amazed at how quick I was doing this hike. Usually, I expect a few mistakes that throw me off, but since I was so adjusted and had exercised so much during the previous weeks I was really fast. Near the top of the headwall I took this:
A little explanation on the trail. I started out using the New Army Pass trail. You can use that to get to the top of Langley, but I decided I wanted to use the older Army Pass. If there is a lot of snow in the season then the headwall may be a problem. Since it was late in the summer and not a good snow year I took the obvious choice, even though it is not maintained, with Army Pass. New Army Pass goes around into a different area; someday I intend to use the new trail all the way. With that said, the one minor issue one has to deal with in regards to this headwall over Army Pass is a small rock avalanche that covers the trail. There is some exposure for a fall, but if one goes slow and is careful than one can traverse this with no problems. It is not that difficult.
At this point I was over the headwall. The trail continues toward the west. I followed this trail just past this sign, but my intuition told me that something was not quite right. Mt. Langely was obviously to the Northeast. I could see it, but this trail was going in the wrong direction.
I examined the area and did notice a faint trail heading in the correct area to Mt. Langley. I started heading into that direction. As I continued I did see more use trails people have made so it was just a matter of picking one and going with it. If I continued on the trail with the sign above I would have gone down with some lakes below. I do not know much about that area, but it will be seen in later pictures in my next few entries which I get to the top.