The Crown-Welcome Loop

When it comes to consistently spectacular routes, with no filler miles whatsoever, this is the best route I’ve done in the Bob.  Bar none.

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The limestone cliffs and reefs are truly special, from the way Welcome Pass is tucked into a surprising break to the walls behind the Green Fork meadows devolving into stacked pinnacles and gullies in the upper reaches.  The meadows, forests, and streams are equally compelling and, somewhat usually for the Bob complex, heterogenous and diverse.  Tortured and slow growing sub-alpine, aspens, old growth pine, and willow bogs; this loop has everything you’ll find east of the Continental Divide.  The cedar forests off the Swan are more majesterial, but logging has made them hard to find, and they’re generally accessed by lodgepole miles which are not especially compelling.

In addition to discovering such a great route somewhat by accident, this weekend was the death knell of our old backpacking ways.  Since LB was born I’ve been harboring the largely subconscious illusion that with enough careful planning and added strength we’d be able to continue to do trips under roughly the same rules we always have.  That did not work this time; the first 10 mile day fatigued us enough that we cut our route drastically short, and even the 14 mile compromise day back out was in the heat and rocky paths truly crushing.  These are distances that, pre-baby, were generally accomplished by lunch, and occasionally before breakfast.  That I won’t be able to do the same trips I did with a 20 pound load while carrying a 50 pound pack that is prone to squirming should have been the most obvious thing in the world, but continuing our backcountry life was of sufficient value that I kept my head in the sand.  It’s humbling; the woods get bigger in a hurry when you can’t default to 3 mph when you wish.

For the future we don’t just need fewer miles and more breaks, we need a different approach to backpacking entirely.  Thankfully lots of backpack, hiking, and camping time from an early age has meant that Little Bear gets more excited about hiking today than any time before.  We’ll have plenty of chances to get it right.

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5 thoughts on “The Crown-Welcome Loop

  1. Everything changes! But to date, my most memorable and beautiful moment being in the mountains, is when my little daughter after an exhausting day of life guarding her on the banks of snowmelt swollen Goose Creek and attempting to manage her interminable squirming around in the tent and not going to sleep; says to me, “Papa, I need to pee.” Then I get to unzip the tent, put on my wet, cold shoes, find the flashlight which she earlier had been playing with, turn it on, prospect for her shoes which were in opposing corners of the tent and then take her little hand to guide her out into the darkness. We started walking. She suddenly stops; pulls on my hand and whispers, “Papa! The stars!” I looked up. It is was one of those nights when the Creator couldn’t have put one more star in the sky because they had all been used up. There I was holding my daughter’s tiny hand, gazing at that star filled expanse–and all I could do–was cry.

    I wish for the same kind of moments for you and your family.

  2. The best part was when we got back to the trailhead we had to walk almost 1 mile along the road to get back to our starting trailhead and for some inexplicable reason when we turned to the left onto the road, LB FREAKED OUT and insisted we go to the right, we carried him, we tried to put him back in the backpack, he was having none of it, he wanted to go to the right… we still have no idea why…

  3. Some folks come here for the packrafting, but I read for the family camping survival and expectation setting. My own family’s mini-miles on the AT will have to substitute for The Bob, at least for this season of life. Keep truckin’ LB.

    1. Hiking strategy with the kid has been a moving target. Starting him early was key; when and how to take breaks changes month to month.

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