Jeff's report covered the trip pretty well, but I'll throw in a bit myself. My pictures didn't come out much better than his, because a decent camera definitely does NOT compensate for a lousy photographer. I understand a bit of the theory of photography, but am pretty lousy at putting it to practice - pretty typical for a physicist
First, a little discussion of the trip, and then I'll get to the pictures. We were using our AARN packs for the first time for an actual overnighter, and I was really impressed with their performance. I pretty much ALWAYS have back and shoulder pain when I hike, from some past injuries and bad genetics, and this time I had almost no back pain. We were also trying out some other new gear - I had purchased a bear canister for some planned trips to Rocky Mountain National Park, where they are required, and so I decided to carry it this time to see how much the added weight and bulk affected me. I was also trying out my new Spyderco Bushcraft knife, and it performed well, although I'm still not completely sold on the scandi grind. The O1 tool steel rusted pretty badly, although that might be because I used it to cut some very rare steaks and didn't clean it terribly well.
Perhaps the worst was that I was trying out a new pair of boots, because I was expecting colder weather than we got. I ended up getting a lot of blisters, both from the boots not being well broken in, and my feet sweating way too much. I definitely remembered why I prefer hiking in trail runners.
Our campsite was really great - as Jeff said, right by the frozen stream, with large boulders all around, and a great setup for enjoying the fire. If you look closely you can see the new bear canister, and Jeff laying down, relaxing and enjoying his BushBuddy.
And here are our hammocks. MrsMustardman made the down underquilts - they are good to at least 0 degrees, but it only got down to the high 20's overnight. I spent most of the night sweating.
I brought along more weight than I really needed in cutlery, but I always enjoy taking knives into the woods and playing with them. Here I'm prying away some dead wood from a log with a Busse Bushwacker Battle Mistres. This light, termite-ridden stuff goes up FAST and makes great tinder, although we ended up not really needing it.
And here's a little carving I did with the Spyderco Bushcraft
And the carving at work
A couple frozen steaks thrown into the pack were nicely thawed by the time we got to camp, but still cold. We cooked them up nice and rare and enjoyed a delicious meal combined with some Mountain House mashed potatoes.
Before bed, I did some wandering around near camp and captured a few pictures of neat rock formations - as a climber, I was loving being surrounded by all these great boulders, and kept wishing I had brought my climbing shoes.
This cave was right across the stream from our campsite - there was a small fire ring inside. Would be a great place to hang out during a storm, if you were a tent dweller and didn't have a hammock to sit in
After lots of time sitting around the fire, talking about gear and many other things, we were ready for bed. We woke up early the next morning to a really nice day.
We climbed out of our hammocks, and Jeff had the fire going already, so it was nice and easy to get breakfast ready. I have a bail wire made out of fishing leaders attached to my Guyot/Nalgene Stainless Steel water bottle, so I threw it right in the fire to boil up some water.
Breakfast of champions
My feet were hurting from the blisters, but we wanted to hike up to the shafthouse. Since Jeff covered the trip up well, I'll just show my favorite two shots at the top. The sky had really cleared up and it was quite warm by the time we got up there.
The hike out was pretty brutal on my blisters - even the iniji toe socks and body glide combo wasn't helping at this point. Luckily, about a half mile from the trailhead, the trail dips right beside the stream, so we took the chance to enjoy the near-freezing water.
And finally, hiking out, you can see the desolation of the burned-out forest. It's a stark contrast to the beauty of the rest of the trail.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and I only wish more folks had been available to join us. I ended up snapping around 160 pictures, and all of them were great. The scenery was very different from much of what I've seen since moving out here, and I highly recommend this trail to anyone. There are some longer loops available for more distance-oriented backpacking, and it would be great to check those out one day.