Wilderness Journey – Day Three – Morning

North Fork of the Big Thompson River

At dawn’s first light, I was up and on the last portion of National Park trail. I passed Lost Lake and quickly found a place to wade the North Fork of Big Thompson River (more like little Thompson creek at this altitude).

From here on, I would be off-trail, but I was above timberline and the slope was not too steep. I took my time, enjoying the unfolding view and relishing the challenge of finding my own route (which was no challenge at this point.)

By 10:00 I was on the wet plateau between Mt Dunraven and Mummy Mountain and I stopped for an early lunch.

Looking south towards Mummy Mountain

At this point I debated whether to climb Mummy Mountain, 13425 feet in elevation. It would delay me from climbing off the ridge and thus expose me to possible storms. However I figured I may never again have the opportunity to climb the peak and, like John Muir, I hungered for some mountain adventure. Just below the peak, at about 12,300 elevation, I dropped my pack near a large boulder and started hiking straight up.

Can you spot my pack?

As I climbed, I kept looking back to see where my pack was. I was glad I did, since after a while every boulder looked like another and I could have easily lost my pack.

I took my time, stopping to rest several times. The climb was challenging and I began to wonder if I might be one of the first people to climb Mummy Mountain this summer because of its isolation. Perhaps there would be climber’s log at the summit that would answer my question.

Looking West from Mummy Peak at Crystal Lake and Fairchild Mountain

At 11:10 I reached the summit. The peak has a spectacular view to the south and west. I could see Lawn Lake, Crystal Lake, the Saddle, Fairchild Mountain and even Ypsilon Mountain. I found the climber’s log in a plastic plumber’s pipe and discovered that I was the fourth climber that week! I realized that there must be an established route (directly up the ridgeline from the southeast?) and that I might be able to use a portion of it later on.

My pack remained a thousand feet below me so I decided to continue my original plan: to contour around Mummy Mountain, remaining in the West Creek basin until I came to the ridge above Tileston Meadow’s. The ridge was at 11,750 feet so I figured I could gradually lose some elevation as I hiked around the mountain side. I scrambled back to my pack and continued on.

The terrain remained mostly meadow with many large boulders. Occasionally I encountered large clumps of boulders that I had to go over or around. I generally chose to go around, dropping to a lower elevation.

Contemplating which path to take

As I picked my way along the slope, I reflected on what a seminary professor once regarding Psalm 119:105, Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.   He said, “Remember that the lamps of ancient Israel where not blazing maglite flashlights by which you can see the path for hundreds of feet.  Rather they were flickering oil lamps which gave you visibility of only a few feet.  But that is all you need.  The text reminds us that God does not reveal the whole path at once, but just enough to show us the way.”

As I worked my way around Mummy Mountain, I thanked the Lord for each small section of path that I could see.

Lord Jesus, show us our path for today.

Next: a stormy afternoon.

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