Sunday, July 23, 2017

To the Top of Eastern Nevada: Up Wheeler Peak with Kids

The day arrived: time to head up Wheeler Peak. We had two seven year olds and a ten year old. We had spent the night before at Wheeler Peak campground at 10,000 feet to acclimate and make the hike easier. We took a before hike photo when we were still all smiling (we forgot to take the after hike photo, but I can assure you some of the faces would have been showing different expressions!)

The start is easy, not too steep, fairly flat ground, and gorgeous views. We could see where we would soon be--on the ridge that leads up to Wheeler Peak (the mountain on the right in the photo above).

As we got higher, the trail got rockier. The kids wanted lots of breaks, so we had to use our best parenting techniques to keep them going.

I found the flowers distracting. I especially loved this pink one, moss campion (Silene acualis), that grows in a mound.

At one point, Desert Boy went ahead, found a wind shelter, and then laid down and pretended he was dead. Here are the kids trying to revive him. Fortunately they were successful!

Higher up, we found some snow!

We decided to take this snowy route for awhile.

Desert Boy's expression shows how enthusiastic he was. But then he and Isaac started talking about video games, and they got a second wind.

Jenny is such a trooper, up to any challenge! And with a smile.

Almost to the top!

One of the benefits of climbing the peak in July is seeing the bright pink Palmer's primrose (Primula parryi) in bloom. It's usually a riparian plant, but for some reason it also likes the higher slopes of Wheeler Peak. The purple plant is sky pilot or sticky Jacob's ladder (Polemonium viscosum), and it smells like skunk. Fortunately it wasn't too odiferous on this particular day. In the middle of the photo below, you can see Bald Mountain, with Buck Mountain to the right. The dry playa in the background is Yelland dry lake bed in Spring Valley.

Finally we got to the top! It was so nice to be there. We shared the summit ridge with about 20 other people, who were scattered along it.

Some of us went to the eastern edge of the ridge to see the Wheeler Cirque Rock Glacier and Jeff Davis peak. This year there aren't any thermokarst ponds (pools of water) on the rock glacier.

Jenny got a family photo of us.

And I wanted to get a photo with Jenny!

We spent about an hour at the top on the rare, almost windless day. You might notice we're not even wearing jackets. This is not common at all! Desert Girl wasn't feeling so good, and we hoped heading down would relive her altitude sickness.

The Ross's aven (Geum rossii) with its mats of yellow flowers and cushion phlox (Phlox pulvinata) with its white flowers decorated the scene, along with more sky pilot.

I thought going down might end the whining, but the kids were tired and let us know it.

With snow down the gully to Stella Lake, we thought that would be a fun alternative to the trail. There were a few fun moments...


 ...but it was really long and probably didn't really save us any time. But now we know.
We were all exhausted when we got back to the vehicles and forgot to take the after photo. The kids said they would never hike the peak again. But once they told other people and saw their reactions, they changed to saying that they wouldn't hike the peak in the next few years. After that, who knows?

Anyway, we were really proud of them for accomplishing such a big feat. and it was great to spend the day outdoors in such beautiful settings. For anyone wanting to take kids to the top, plan on an all-day adventure (it was about 9 hours total for us, including an hour at the top), lots of food and water and patience. And it sure helps to have good weather!

1 comment:

jhami said...

Epic adventure! Great post! Maybe Lexington Arch can be out next one?

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