Three Hikes to Midsummer Valley
The Falcon's Lair has the finest granite that I've seen in the Wind River Range. So after being disappointed by the rock quality at Moss Lake, I decided that it would be a good idea to see how far the high quality rock extended past the Falcon's Lair. Davin, Jamie, and Ben were also interested in checking out a canyon known as Midsummer, just north of the Lair, so it jumped to the top of my list. We made plans, and got out early. The air was cool, with a nice breeze. We hiked past the Falcon's Lair, and headed north across the tundra.
The approach is a mile and a half longer than the Falcon's Lair, but it was really nice not having to cross a lot talus, and the majority of the approach is on a trail. It's a little too long for a bouldering day trip, but much easier to get to than the other expedition destinations that I've visited in the Winds.
The stone quality we found varied from good to excellent with the large boulders being a little spread out and usually found in the talus fields. The ambiance of the area really impressed me, with multiple canyons holding bouldering possibilities, clean walls, and even a few waterfalls.
The girls handled it well though.
Despite staying on the smaller boulders, it would have been an amazing day. The rock was incredible. But heat and mosquitoes detracted from the experience. Our day up there happened to be one of the hottest days of the summer, without even a hint of a breeze. But we couldn't get anywhere else, so we climbed in the heat.
Ashley warming up on some of the perfect stone.
Autumn sitting on my stuffed pad. If only you could actually see how heavy it was.
Hiking out under all the weight, with burning shoulders and aching hip joints, I had a chance to consider the trip in it's entirety. We'd gotten full work outs, put up quite a few new problems, and spent some time in an incredibly beautiful environment, but it had been so much work to do it. Including my trip to stash gear, I'd spent a lot more time hiking than I had bouldering. Once all the factors were considered, I decided that it's better to spend summer days at the Rock Shop with my family. It's considerably easier to get up early to beat the heat, or camp up there, than it is to get all the necessary gear up to and out of the alpine areas. By the last mile out of Midsummer Valley, my legs and shoulders hurt so bad that I was questioning my own sanity. Optimism usually serves me well, but this trip was too much.
Reflecting on it now, I learned quite a bit my three trips up there. I stopped pushing alpine bouldering on my family, and we've had really great sessions at the Rock Shop instead. I know that Midsummer Valley really is an amazing place. I'm sure that I'll get back there, but a couple things keep it from being ideal. It doesn't have a concentration of big blocks with good landings, and it doesn't have the extensive views of giant peaks or walls that can significantly add to the alpine bouldering experience. It's one of the most beautiful valleys that I've ever seen, but the view is limited by the sides of the valley. I imagine an alpine area with big blocks of bullet hard stone, all sitting on soft tundra, surrounded in all directions by amazing scenery. I've felt for a long time that an area like this must exist somewhere in the Winds. Hopefully it would only take one more hike to find it...