Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Friends old and new- Gorge Peaks via Milner Pass th.

We're in the middle of a two day rain storm, which is good because we need it, but bad because it's happening on my days off!  Needless to say, I enjoyed sleeping in somewhat this morning instead of hearing the 3am alarm go off, yet my heart still aches for the mountains.  In the end, all I can say is oh well and hope next week is nicer.  
But last week!  We had a 10% chance of storms predicted after 2pm, and you know what that means.  An all day outing!  My vote was cast to climb all the Gorge Peaks in one day, exactly 364 days after I'd parked at Rock Cut and dropped into Forest Canyon to do what became the hardest hike of my life- Gorge Lakes.  I was joined by my friend and oft companion Dan, fresh off a 34th place finish at the Leadville 50.  I was wondering if I'd be able to keep up!
July 22nd is also a memorable day for me for unfortunate reasons.  It was the day that a friend lost her battle with breast cancer in 2010.  One again, this day was in her memory.  Just like last year, it was a spectacular and memorable day.
Starting on the west side gave us some great views of the Never Summer Range catching the first rays of sunlight that caressed our area of the earth on this day. 
South Specimen and Specimen Mountains(I think).
We talked on the way up and worked out a plan.  First we'd hit Jagor Point, and then proceed to Ida through Terra Tomah.  We'd keep an eye on the weather along the way of course, since the only bail route is really turning around and heading back.  We'd identified two of the big gains of the day, the first between Ida and Chief Cheley, and the second (and more serious) between Cracktop and Julian.
Much to our surprise, we came upon our first person of the day relaxing on some talus before we hit Jagor Point.  She said she'd intended to go as far as Cracktop, but felt ill so turned back.  At least someone got up earlier than us!
We left the pretty well beat in unofficial trail and walked over to Jagor Point.  Looking down on these lakes and Rock Cut brought it all flooding back.  The exceptionally difficult bushwhack, the waterfall exiting from Arrowhead Lake, the Bighorn I'd see above Inkwell Lake, the erratic, the rainbow cloud, getting back to the truck late, and seeing the sun both rise and set in the same day.  The memories of a friend, the memories of my own battle with cancer. 
Looking over to Terra Tomah Mountain and Mount Julian. 
And Cracktop through Mount Ida.  There was still some ground to be covered.
Getting from Jagor Point to Mount Ida wasn't very difficult at all.  We simply went in the general direction of the trail until we hit it and continued on.  But now the fun was about to begin, with a 600 or so foot loss and regain to get to Chief Cheley Peak.
Jagor Point as seen from Mount Ida.
Timber Lake in a beautiful basin. 
The loss and gain went uneventfully, and we soon found ourselves on Chief Cheley Peak.
Over looking Highest Lake, which was alot more melted last year.  I can now tell you the easiest way to get to this lake is to drop down the 3rd class ridge from Chief Cheley Peak.  That will certainly be alot less difficult than making your way here from Rock Cut or Forest Canyon Overlook.  This lake was the place where I said a few words in memory of Liberty last year.
Looking along the ridge to Cracktop.  This was all relatively easy second class, and while Cracktop and Chief Cheley are both named, they are unranked, with their parent high point being point 12820, which is the high point of this ridge.  Of course it looks alot less spectacular than either, which is probably why it doesn't have a name.  May I propose Liberty Point?
Looking down to Inkwell Lake and Arrowhead Lake from the ridge.  Inkwell Lake was so crazily blue it was hard to comprehend. 
The next major difficulty of the day lie ahead of us when we topped out on Cracktop.  We faced around 300 feet of elevation loss on third class terrain, followed by 500+ feet of gain on second class talus to get to the summit of Mount Julian.  This proved to be one of the most fun and interesting parts of the day for both of us. 
Looking at the ridge, we decided to stay on the top as we could, and find our way through a fractured system of ledges and gullies on the climbers right or south side of the ridge. 
Navigating the ledges. 
This proved to be a fun exercise as these things often are.  This was third class by the path of least resistance, but up to fifth if a more direct route was taken.  Some breathtaking exposure here and there kept it interesting. 
As Dan said, this is not beginner third class.  Alot of route finding was needed and the difficulty was rather sustained the whole way through.  Longs Peak via the Keyhole may become the comparison I'll use the most, but that is blazed the entire way, with a definitive crux in the chock stone at the top of the Trough.
Looking down to Azure Lake, Inkwell Lake, and Arrowhead Lake. 
Nearing the end of the third class section.  We stopped and got our poles back out before continuing up to the highest point of the day, the 19th highest peak in RMNP, and the third highest 12er, Mount Julian.
Looking back toward Cracktop and the difficulties of the ridge.  Even when we hit Terra Tomah, the day was only half way over.  We'd still have to find our way back.
There was a small cairn on top of Mount Julian, though the register (the only one we'd find this day) actually lie in a crack below the true high point.  As you may surmise, this peak doesn't see many summits- probably in the 10-15 a year range.  One of my favorite, perhaps all time favorite, register comments was found here- #SWAG from a girl who'd summitted with a large group two years ago.  I left my usual name, city, blog address (thanks for visiting if you happened to see it), and a nice message for Liberty. 
We wound our way though second class talus and the webs of those nightmarish looking alpine spiders to make our way up the last few hundred feet to the summit of Terra Tomah Mountain.  While it looks pretty spectacular and daunting when viewed from the north east, from this side it is nothing more than a gentle hill covered in grass and a ton of Alpine Sunflowers.
Rock Cut from Terra Tomah.  I reminisced on last year and told Dan about seeing Rock Cut from Highest Lake.  There it was, only 4.something miles away.  I could see cars and people over there.  Yet I knew I was very, very far from done.  I knew how much effort it had taken me to get to this high alpine lake and how much it would take to get back.  It was certainly one of those times when the mental aspect of hiking comes into play.  Your body can be very fit, but at times you need that sound mind to know you can get back. 
As we hiked over the day we'd talked about this, and I named two days in particular when I got very close to my breaking point.  And I remember very vividly having to sit down, feeling my muscles trying to jump through my skin as I did, giving myself the 'you can do this' talk.  Taking on a bunch of food and water to make sure I'd have the energy.  Counting steps on the way down.  I kept getting startled by people standing along the trail, only to look and find out it was a tree or rock and wondering, while my heart was pounding, how I could have mistaken a tree for a person.
Stones Peak and Longs Peak, Pagoda, Chiefs Head, McHenrys...
This is what the true high point of Terra Tomah looks like.  On the way back, I noticed you can see this point from Trail Ridge Road if you look closely. 
Dan in contemplation of Mount Julian.  Since we didn't need to resummit, we simply contoured around below the second snowfield from the top. That worked out pretty well and gave us only a little bit of loss on the other side.
Going back up over third class to Cracktop proved to be quite fun once again.  There was one place where we went around on the way down because we couldn't see what lie below us.  Now I was able to see it and it looked like it would go.  In the end, I found myself doing a body jam in a chimney while applying a finger lock to a crack.  In short, this was fifth class climbing, and it would have been easier and quicker to just go down the gulley and back up. 
Dan navigates the third class...
I captured a close up of some Alpine Sunflowers on the west side of Cracktop.
And another spectacular view of Inkwell Lake from above.  We saw a few Bighorn on the north side of this ridge, and they were the first of many we'd see on the day.
Unfortunately, it was around this time that my camera decided to stop working properly.  But I can report that we made it back to Chief Cheley, and then to Mount Ida, where we scared a woman standing on the summit.  Going back down, we saw a ton of cairns but none of them seemed to mark a definite trail.  In fact, we never did find a trail until farther down, though at this point of the day, neither of us could remember if there'd been a well defined trail past Jagor Point.  I can tell you there was one up until there at least.  We also saw herds of Bighorn Sheep, far more than I've ever seen combined.  This might be a prime place to see them, along with Mummy Mountain, on which I have seen several.
We saw a few more people on the way down, with the frequency increasing the closer we got to Poudre Lake.  I walked over and dipped my fingers in the lake to cross that one off the list.
Here is Poudre Lake in some weird sort of camera malfunctioning soft focus.  
Back at the car, we took a few minutes to get snacks and drinks out.  I finished off four liters of water over the day.  And then back in the car to make the traffic filled drive back to Estes and then down to home.
This day was just what I was looking for.  The great weather afforded us a long day above tree line, saw us climb no fewer than seven 12ers, both ranked and unranked, and served as a spectacular way to remember an old friend and spend some time with a new one.  
This is certainly a long and difficult day anyway you cut it.  I'd say even up to Cracktop it isn't that bad, but be prepared if you go beyond.  The only real 'bail' option here is heading down into Forest Canyon, and believe me, that is much more difficult than simply turning back.  Plus I have no idea how one could make it back to Milner Pass from there.  The third class ridge between Cracktop and Mount Julian is definitively the crux, requiring route finding and the ability to execute the moves over some exposure.  I would certain say this section is more technically difficult than what you'd find on Longs, so make sure your ability and comfort level is up for the challenge.  And like Longs, this is a climb, not a hike.
As we were walking back to the car talking about how great a day this was, Dan said, "I am glad there are other people in the world who like doing this kind of stuff."  Well, me too.  I look forward to sharing a 6 pack of Snark soon! 
Gorge Peaks via Milner Pass th:
Jagor Point, 12632 feet: 5.1 miles each way, 1874 foot gain.  Second class.  Moderate+.
Mount Ida, 12900 feet: 4.7 miles each way, 2122 foot gain.  Second class.  Moderate+.
Chief Cheley Peak, 12804 feet: 5.3 miles each way, 2046 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
Point 12820/Liberty Point, 12820 feet: 5.6 miles each way, 2062 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
Cracktop, 12780 feet: 6 miles each way, 2022 foot gain.  Second class.  Strenuous-.
Mount Julian, 12928 feet: 6.7 miles each way, 2170 foot gain.  Third class.  Strenuous.
Terra Tomah Mountain, 12718 feet: 7.4 miles each way, 1960 foot gain.  Third class.  Strenuous.
Poudre Lake, 10758 feet: thirty second walk from parking, 0 foot gain.  Easy-.
This whole hike: 14.7 miles round trip, 5785 foot gross gain.  Third class.  Strenuous.

In loving memory of Liberty Rebekah Dagenais.  October 9, 1980- July 22, 2010.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fox Creek Falls, Lost Falls, and Kettle Tarn via Cow Creek Th.

The weather this summer seems to not be quite as spectacular as last year, or maybe it was just that I got lucky.  Either way, on this day I was getting predictions of storms starting at anywhere from 9-11am, so I decided that heading up above tree line was not a wise decision.  I wasn't motivated to make the longer drive to the west side, so what could I do?  
After studying the topo, I found three destinations I could access from Cow Creek th that I had yet to visit.  But this would stipulate hiking the entire North Boundary Trail to the North Fork Trail and then two miles or so of that, and then going all the way back.  Still, it looked okay and would keep me well below treeline for the day.
Mornings at Cow Creek th are the best.  Always very pretty.
The first obstacle is the moraine extending east from Sheep Mountain.  A few hundred feet of gain right away definitely warm up the legs, the body, and the spirit.  From there you loose almost all of the elevation gain you just put in to arrive at West Creek.  There is now a nice shiny new bridge there, so no rock hopping was needed to cross.  Again, the trail turns upward and another few hundred feet of elevation are gained.  Things flatten out before heading slightly downhill to Fox Creek.
Upon meeting the creek I crossed another new footbridge and picked up a small social trail heading down stream.  I followed it as best I could, but the flood had completely wiped it out in places and travel grew slow and tenuous.  I ended up crossing the creek again and bushwhacking down a little farther.
The base of the creek in this area is all rock that has been smoothed and shaped by the passage of time and water.  Several small cascades step down and make pools that looked like they would have been great to sit in and cool off. 
The cascades grow in height until several of them team up to deposit water in this larger basin.
A very pretty waterfall that will take some work to get to, but certainly worth the effort in my opinion. 
Though there were some low clouds around, I did get a brief view of blue skies. 
Fox Creek Falls though a window in the trees.
Since going back the way I'd come didn't seem like a great plan, I simply made my way back uphill and overland until I ran into the trail and continued on.
When I had first looked at the topo, I must not have been looking too carefully, because from Fox Creek you gain nearly 1400 feet of elevation before dropping down to the North Boundary Trail.  I thought this section was mostly flat, when there was a pretty good amount of up to be had.
It also didn't help that I mistakenly identified this high point extending east from Mummy Mountain as Mount Dickinson and thought I was farther north than I really was.
Again, I was expecting to hit the North Fork Trail at any second. 
Along the way I saw these absolutely incredible alien looking things poking through the forest floor.  It was the first thing I looked up when I got home, and upon searching the term 'pink asparagus like plant' (how else would you describe it?), I discovered that these are a somewhat rare flower related to blueberries.  They are called Pterospora, or more commonly Pinedrops.  An interesting thing is that this plant does not contain chlorophyll and does not produce its own energy.  Rather, it has a parasitic relationship with a certain fungi which are themselves living a symbiotic life with pine tree roots.  Pretty interesting stuff.  It was the first time I'd ever seen anything like it!
As I made my way to the North Fork Trail, I passed a NPS cabin.  I decided to go over and check it out.  I noticed the door was unlocked and got that uneasy feeling as there was no one around.  I walked around the cabin and saw another door on the back, and looked in to find a NPS employee standing there.  I hadn't expected to see another person all day, and I guess he didn't either as he asked if I was there on official business.  Haha.  He told me there were about 20 NPS people in the drainage doing trail work.  And shortly after I ran into one of the crews.
I took a left and headed up and up.  I was thinking back to the year before when Dan and I had climbed Dickinson and Dunraven.  What a memorable day!  And when I got back home, I discovered that had happened exactly a year ago to the day. 
I hit the Stormy Peaks trail.  It took me a decisively slow five hours to get here.  From here it is recommended to head directly south to hit the falls.  I followed the trail slightly farther as it flattened out slightly after this intersection.  Shortly after stomping into the woods, I came upon a very faint trail that led to the Big Thompson. 
Mount Dickinson as seen from far below.
I first hit this area of cascades.  From here I moved down as I could to see if the falls were any fallier downstream.  And then up, where I finally found what looked to me to be the largest definitive waterfall of the series. 
Lost Falls.  I got this good view of what I could actually call a waterfall when compared to things such as Marguerite Falls which looks alot more like a cascade.
I got back on the thin trail and followed it back to the North Fork Trail.   
Here is where it met the trail, maybe 100 feet past the intersection with the Stormy Peaks Trail.  As pictured, I made sure to build a cairn on either side of it, so look for those if you happen to want to go here.
I turned back downhill.  My plan was to pass the intersection with the North Boundary Trail and find the Kettle Tarn campsite and then make my way to the small body of water behind it.  I came to a place where it looked like there once was signage and a small bridge and trail on the other side of the Big Thompson, but it was all gone.  I could not find a downed tree to cross the creek on, so I went back to the North Boundary intersection and crossed there.
From this point, you simply need to stay on top of the small moraine that is immediately south of the Big Thompson.  This is easier said than done, as thick bushwhacking is encountered.  But you will soon notice the water on your right.  It is small, but very pretty.
Kettle Tarn.  Secluded and beautiful.  It has no inlet or outlet, and was formed by glacial activity.  This day was a study of time and geology.
It had now started to rain and I was occasionally hearing thunder.  Once I topped out on the North Boundary Trail, I mixed some jogging in with my hiking.  I ran into a father and son who were going to one of the campsites near the Big Thompson.  I found and ate a few strawberries.  I ground up over the final 600 feet or so of gain needed to get back down to the Cow Creek trail head. 
I captured this great sight of Lumpy Ridge standing out in front of the clouds behind.  How wonderful!
This was the day I needed.  Just a long day to meander around and see a few things I hadn't gotten to before.  Though I started around 7800 feet and went not much higher than 9800, I still ended up gaining around 5000 feet on the day.  So yes, you can have a challenging hike while staying low.  Though most of this was on trail, there is that sense of being out in the middle of nowhere, and with the Dunraven trailhead still currently closed, this is about the only way to access the North Fork Trail.  Count on a return trip soon!
Fox Creek Falls, Lost Falls, and Kettle Tarn via Cow Creek Th:
Fox Creek Falls, 8420 feet: 2.75 miles each way, 600 foot gain.  Moderate.
Lost Falls, 9840 feet: 8.4 miles each way, 2020 foot gain. Strenuous-.
Kettle Tarn, 9220 feet: 6 miles each way, 1400 foot gain.  Moderate+.
Of course, to get to any of these destinations, you will need to gain elevation both ways, so they are more difficult than the numbers might look.
This hike as a whole covered approximately 16.75 miles with 5020 feet of gross elevation gain.   Strenuous-.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Marguerite Falls, Black Pool, and Raspberry Park via Fern Lake th.

Last week I set out for several destinations that are all in close proximity to one of the busiest trails in the park, but all of which seem to get very little visitation.  For reference, I could find only one photo of Marguerite Falls online, and none of either Black Pool or Raspberry Park.  While Raspberry Park is a bit of a slog, Marguerite Falls sits no more than one tenth of a mile from Fern Lake, while Black Pool is a rather tenuous half a mile from the Fern Lake trail itself.  
Of course there is no trail to any of these destinations, but the mountains are about exploration, right?  Some effort can be rewarded by leaving the crowds behind and sitting at the base of a beautiful waterfall all by yourself.  Or enjoying a snack while sitting on a boulder overlooking what has to be one of the tiniest named bodies of water in the park. 
Early morning on the Fern Lake trail.
The first few miles are rather mellow, with very little elevation gain up until The Pool.  From here, things take a turn uphill.  The next thing you will come to is...
Fern Falls.  Which is a pretty cool waterfall that is right off the trail.  If you have the desire to go to Black Pool, you will head north when the Fern Lake trail makes the first switchback turn left- Fern Lake is located at the next switchback after that.
But before that, I came upon these ants on the trail.  Just sitting there in deep communication with each other.  I could even touch them with no reaction.  It was strange.
Fern Lake with Joe Mills Mountain on the left, Notchtop center, and Little Matterhorn (mostly in shade) to the right of that.
From here it is relatively easy to navigate down to Marguerite Falls.  Simply follow the exit creek from the lake.  It looked and seemed like there was a little bit of a social trail on either side of the creek, but that proved to not be true.  The bushwhack was on, and it does get a bit thick at times.
But the falls aren't that far away, certainly obtainable in fifteen to twenty minutes.  And of course, it is less of a waterfall and more of a cascade, but there you have it.  When facing downstream, I started on the right side of the creek and crossed to the left when I could.  It may be easier to just stay on the left. 
A little farther down.
I kept going down along the creek just in case that wasn't it, to make sure I'd been there.  But this was the only thing that looked remotely like a waterfall.  
I did come across the ruins of a small wooden cabin.  There was nothing left but boards and some very large nails.  In this photo, you can still see a stack of firewood that stood outside of it beginning in the lower left corner.
Rather than go back up from here, I simply oriented myself to the north/northwest, and went in that general direction until I hit the trail.  Movement became much easier, and I soon found myself at Fern Falls for the second time of the day.
Fern Falls, rainbow!
I followed the trail down until it took a sharp right, and then found a place to move down the steep and at times loose hill to Spruce Creek.  I crossed the creek atop a fallen log, and then made my way up a forested dirt and talus slope.  
It took me quite a bit of time to figure out I was looking at Gabletop and Castle Rock here.  
Fern Falls can be seen through the forest almost dead center here.
I found that I'd veered too far east, and was on top of the domed granite features to the east of point 9246.  You want to be on the bench between those areas.  So I traversed west until things flattened out.
I made my way up one final gully.  And....
Black Pool was sighted.  The name is fitting.  While the water is not quite black, it is definitely a darker hue reminiscent of the Cedar Water I fondly remember from my younger days in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.  The pool has no inlet or outlet, and the color comes from decaying vegetative matter in the lake.  There looked to be a thick layer of this black matter at the bottom of this tiny body of water.  It is maybe 2 feet deep in the center, and sports a few lily pads and a wealth of grasses around and in the lake.  
I had a snack sitting atop the rock bench on the right.  What an amazing and wonderful place to be.  
The only foot prints I could see were from Elk.
I walked around Black Pool, took it all in.  As I've often said, it is destinations such as this that my heart truly seeks.  I love just being out here in the middle of no where, seeing and hearing no sign of anyone else.
I headed northwest, paralleling the Big Thompson River up Forest Canyon.  As with my last experience here, travel got tough.  The bushwhacking is thick and steady, not only pushing through trees and chest high brush, but making your way over fallen trees, rock, and marsh.   
I occasionally stumbled over signs that at least someone else had once come this way.  I found a cairn here and there, though what trail they may have been marking is beyond me. 
I also found a bunch of old rusty cans from who knows when.  I couldn't see any markings on them, but it was interesting to still be able to see the tool marks from them being opened.
The one thing that may have made travel slightly easier was going through part of the Fern Lake fire area.  But moving through what was essentially charcoal left me absolutely filthy.  I was dirtier than I can ever remember being. 
More fire area.  The bushwhacking was less intense at times, but you can see that I was moving over talus!
I was looking at the topo to try to figure out how much farther I had to go.  I could see opposite where treeline was, and that looked like it was about where I should meet Lost Brook and find Raspberry Park.  I felt I would come to Lost Brook very soon, though I'd already passed a few small streams. 
I found two small creeks close to each other, both this one...
And this one. 
And this one looked to be big enough to be named.  Raspberry Park is so named for the tons of wild raspberry plants growing in the area.  Unfortunately, they were not yet in season!  Oh well. 
Though I thought I was there, again just to make sure, I kept going.  I made it out of the fire area and into the bush.  It was just as thick as I remembered.  About an hour later I hadn't hit another creek coming down from Stones Peak.  I decided that the creek I thought was Lost Brook, was indeed Lost Brook.  Back I went.
Back in the forest fire area, I looked for a place to take a quick dip in the Big Thompson.  Here I found a small eddy that looked deep enough to hold me.  In I went.  It was freezing, but the water felt good after sweating all day.
On the way back, I stayed a little bit higher up on Stones Peak.  This saw me hit some areas of 100% tree fall and have to deal with that, walk on talus that was quite loose and shifting under me at time, and still have some bushwhacking to do.  Then I started to see a cairn here and there and the faint outlines of a long ago trail.
In the name of exploration, I decided to follow the trail remnants for as long as I could.  In the end, it seemed to dissolve into nothing, though it was pretty well cairned for quite awhile.  But with no point a or point b, it is hard to call this a trail. 
It did take me by multiple wild strawberry plants.  And I ate heavily!  While tiny, they are so delicious.  They taste as if you'd shrunk a normal sized strawberry down and in the process, concentrated the flavors.  I will be on the look out for these in the future!
The trail ended up leading me to the west side of point 9249.  I decided it was easiest to avoid the steep slope to the south of point 9249 and just descended the more mellow drainage I was in.  Once I met Spruce Creek, I headed downhill for a little bit before finding another nice log to cross the creek on. 
I took this photo from below.  While I was trying to get a good one to give you some idea of where to go, it was difficult to do so through the forest.  But here see point 9249 on the left of the photo, behind the tree.  The granite domes are to the right.  So you'll want to aim between these to find Black Pool.
Along the trail on the way back, I looked up to see Windy Gulch Cascades.  Here is a view from the top.
Back at the car, I got unpacked and went back to the Big Thompson to scrub my hands off.  Even with that wash up, the rest of me was covered in soot, bug bites (I saw the largest mosquito of my life in Forest Canyon and briefly wondered if Pterodactyls weren't truly extinct), scratches, some of which were bleeding.  I bent both of my hiking poles.  Got a huge blister on my left pinky toe.  Forest Canyon will chew you up and spit you out.  It is one of the truly wild places in the park, with few signs of humanity, and no trails.  Thus, it is fairly difficult to navigate, but you are very likely to be the only person around.  Enjoy the peace and solitude brought by this magical place in the depths of nature.
Marguerite Falls, Black Pool, and Raspberry Park via Fern Lake th:
Marguerite Falls, 9420 feet: 3.9 miles one way, 1270 foot gain.  Moderate.
Black Pool, 9060 feet: 2.9 miles one way, 910* foot gain.  Moderate+.
Raspberry Park, 9000 feet: 4.1 miles one way, 850* foot gain.  Strenuous-.
Along the way, you will also pass:
Fern Lake, 9540 feet: 3.8 miles one way, 1390 foot gain.  Moderate.
Fern Falls, 8800 feet: 2.6 miles one way, 650 foot gain.  Moderate-.
The Pool, 8300 feet: 1.7 miles one way, 150 foot gain.  Easy.
Arch Rocks, 8220 feet: 1.2 miles one way, 70 foot gain.  Easy-. 
Hike total: 10.5 miles round trip, 2400 feet gross elevation gain.  Strenuous-. 
*= Though there is not much net gain to reach these places, there is some up and down along the way that will add a few hundred feet of elevation gain to these totals.