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Thread: Lower Wolf Jaw, a Howlin' Good Time {2/8/11}

  1. #1
    Senior Member Scotzman's Avatar
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    Dec 2010
    Westminster, CO

    Lower Wolf Jaw, a Howlin' Good Time {2/8/11}

    Date: 2/8/11

    Trails: Lake Road, West River, Wedge Brook, Cut-off to summit

    Hikers: Scotzman, Penny

    Required Gear: Snowshoes and poles

    I was looking to get a warm-up hike in before my hike of Saddleback this coming weekend for the Winter Gathering. It had been several weeks since I was last up and at 'em and wanted to refresh the legs. I was also itching to get out in the ADK high peaks with snowshoes on. I have done all of them, but none on actual snowshoes, so I was looking forward to experiencing them from a different vantage point. I just started snowshoeing last season and I really enjoy the contrasting views and perspectives you get while doing the same hike with and without a blanket of snow and ice.

    As I started planning what I was going to hike, I didn't have anyone else committed to hiking with me so I wanted to pick a mountain and trail that was fairly easy, straightforward and that I was comfortable doing if it was to be solo. As it turned out Penny expressed interest and we quickly coordinated the details and were set to do the hike up Lower Wolf Jaw from the Ausable Club Tuesday morning. After we had both navigated the snowy drive to the trailhead, we geared up and left the vehicles by 7:40am. A quick view of the log book showed that we were the first to sign in today and the first in five days to sign in to the Wolf Jaws from the Ausable Club.

    As I've read on other trip reports, the Lake road is well packed by snowmobiles and very easily traversed by whatever means you would like. When we passed the start of the Leach trail there was no visible signs of anyone having been up it since the Saturday. With the sighting of the bridge over the Gill Brook we began what would be a trail-breaking adventure all the way to the last quarter mile of summit push. The trail over to the West River Trail and the West River Trail itself had 6-8" of fresh powder on top of a packed base. While we spotted no tracks the entire day, the indentation left by a packed base, and of course the trail markers, left the path easy to interpret the whole way up. We encountered a couple blow downs on the West River trail but only one of them required us to crawl under, the rest were easily skirted or avoided.
    Canyon Bridge

    It was a beautiful morning to be out on snowshoes with no wind or bitter temperatures to hinder us from enjoying a quiet and peaceful walk into the woods. Penny and I kept rotating the duties of breaking trail and soon enough we found ourselves at the junction of the Wedge Brook trail. We took a quick break to grab a snack and a drink then Penny took the lead up the short incline along the now frozen Wedge Brook cascades. As we neared the campsite and the turn up the mountain and the real climbing for the day, the skies started to lighting a bit and the sun made an effort to shine through. While it didn't actually succeed we did have on and off views of the nearby mountains. With our ascender bars up our climb up the trail to the junction went smooth, albeit slow from breaking trail. With the gain in elevation we noticed a slight increase in the snow depth also to close to a foot of powder on top of the packed base.

    I love the change in forest as you gain elevation, from open hardwoods to dense, snow laden evergreens that you have to duck under and move around. It's such a winter wonderland and one of the things I enjoy the most about winter hiking. Thankfully we stayed on trail the whole day and didn't misstep and find any spruce traps! I am finding myself getting a more set and workable system as far as clothes and gear go, so that I sweat less but stay warm more consistently in the cold snowy conditions. I guess that makes sense, learning what works best for your the more you do it. Part of what I'm trying to consciously do is eat and drink more consistently. In the past I've been a eat or drink when I'm hungry or thirsty kinda person, but now I try to avoid getting to either of those situations.

    When we were at the start of the cut-off trail up LWJ I took the lead and broke trail through the deepest snow of the day; that is until we met up with the intersection of the split where the trail coming from the north meets up for the final push to the summit. From there on the trail was well packed with only a couple inches of loose snow on top. As we made our final push to the summit we were able to get a few glimpses toward Upper Wolf Jaw and Armstrong but when we reached the summit all views had dissipated into a cloudy haze. We snapped a few photos anyway, enjoyed lunch and I some soothingly hot coffee/hot chocolate mix before we began our descent.
    View towards UWJ

    Now that the trail had been broken and the climbing was behind us, we were ready to make some good time on the way back to the trailhead. What took us 5 hours up took us a little over 2 hours down! While I tried to master the butt sliding that I hear so much about, all I ended up doing was getting snow on the back, pants sliding down (I know why people wear suspenders now :razz: ) and the snowshoes kept catching in awkward angles. Unless I get a little sled or shovel to sit on, I think I'm going to give up on that method of descent. Instead, what I did kinda perfect was the art of "tela-snowshoeing". I was lunging forward on one snowshoe while bending my trailing knee and gliding down the slope. It actually worked quite effectively and gave me more control and stability over the steeper terrain!

    Our return trip to the gatehouse went quickly and uneventfully. We were happy to be back at our vehicles as by that time we were ready to shed some wet clothes and get out of the dropping temps and increasing winds. We really enjoyed our trek up LWJ and I'm looking forward to getting back out this weekend and meeting more new faces!

    Full trip pics here:
    Last edited by Scotzman; 02-09-2011 at 12:12 PM.
    Every man dies, not every man really lives.

  2. #2
    Senior Member yvon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Montreal, Quebec, Canada


    Thank you Scotzman for that TR and for the trailbreaking. See you at the gathering.
    Yvon Daigle ADK 46/46--NH48/48--NE67/67--NORTHEAST 111 115/115--52/52 With A View

    Les randonnées de Annie et Yvon (Website)

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