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Ascent of Emory Peak on 2015-01-03

Climber: William Musser

Date:Saturday, January 3, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Emory Peak
    Location:USA-Texas
    Elevation:7825 ft / 2385 m

Ascent Trip Report

The standard hike is an easy to find trailhead well marked and well maintained. Takes you over 10 miles and 2,500 feet of vertical if you do not play on side excursions. Steep in sections and the final bit of climb is good solid class 3 to the very summit. It is not a very long section of class 3. Most of the trip is Class 1. On the way down found a nice off trail to the twin pinnacles peaking off the pinnacle trail at around elevation 6600. I estimate it is 115 feet of vertical total gain to climb over both and there are very nice views and steep cliffs off the second pinnacle so about 230 feet total up and back. Others do the same as the herd trail was more of a people trail.

OK now for the full story as this was a trip to remember!

Karen and I wanted to make this a fun trip with some hiking for me and then see San Antonio for her. We had a layover in Houston. When the plane landed we get off and United cancelled the flights to Midland Odessa. Some freak ice storm. Ok here we go again. I have all the hotels prebooked using frequent flyers and I feel my heart wanting to go into a-fib as I can sense a mess about to start. After one hour, the United person says no way to get you there tonight sorry about your hotel and by the way... probably will not be able to land there tomorrow either. All other airports nearby no guarantees on standby.

So we run down and rent a car in Houston. Tell the bag people to pull our bag (full of all my winter climbing gear and clothes need for my business meeting later in the week). 2 hours later we are told they goofed and our bag just flew off to Kansas City. Very unhappy now, we tell them where we are staying in Big Bend Park and when we leave and we drive off. It is a long long drive from Houston. We leave so late, there is no making Ft stockton where our hotel reservations are so we stop short and fork over more money. The next morning we drive to Ft Stockton and about one hour out of town we see the first semi tractor trailer flipped upside down and scattered all over the I-10 median. We see it is below freezing outside the snow and ice on the highway make people slow down to 40 mph and we debate if we should cancel the trip.

Moving on we pass more accident. One pile up of semis involved 6 18 wheelers! A mess. I-10 in the other direction was completely closes. We pass 13 semi accidents in all and arrive in Ft Stockton a bit shaken and get lunch where we hear the local border patrol officer describe how he was nearly killed when a semi slid out of control and totaled his car when he was assisting with an accident in the highway and then spring this on us...oh by the way no trucks getting into town with gas, we are almost out!

We rush to the only gas station we can find with gas and watch the guy in front of us sneak out the last drops of both regular and midgrade and moves over to premium. We call the national park and they say it is sunny and nice in the valley to come on in! So, finally fill our tank and thankfully head south out of Ft Stockton to our awaiting lodge (still with no bags). On the way south the road gets icier and icier and at some point we slow from 80 mph to 20 and notice there is not a single car on the highway but us now. Crap! we better be careful. Thankfully, the car passes the town of Marathon, and the ice starts to disappear and as we drive up into the mountains of the national park the temperature rises from 26F to 34 and no ice!

We pull into the lodge and check in and all is dark! No power. Apparently a truck slid off the road back in the ice took out 50 power poles and 2 substations and there is no electricity for 100 miles in either direction! Oh yea and no gas!They cook us a meal using coleman stoves and we go to bed in the dark with smelly dirty clothes from day one. It is now pouring rain and miserable outside. Nobody in the lodge takes a bath as the water is freezing. In the middle of the night the park ranger comes by and wakes up to make sure the water is running in our room so the lines do not freeze.....

We awake to ice...... below freezing and no power. Still no gas. But the sky is clear so we go hike the mountain! Luckily i was wearing a pair of hiking boots on the plane this this trip report. Now getting down...we get back and still no power or gas. We check the tank, and we used more than half getting here from Ft Stockton. Still no gas in Marathon and no power and the bag never arrived from United. We pack up drive efficiently to the top of the mountain pass...and then I throw it into neutral and coast out of the mountains from 40 to 80 mph never hitting the breaks...conserving gas as i only have 40% of a tank to get back to where filled!

Coasting in to Ft Stockton, on fumes, we miraculously make it and there is power there (none in Marathon still) but every single gas station is out of gas! Well not true..of the 8 or so stations in town one just had a tanker give them gas 40 minutes ago we here and we rush there only to find hundreds of cars there feeding like pigs at a trough. After hours of waiting temper flared people got rude was beginning to look like a scene in one of those world comes to an end movies. Hours later, and after a really clever re-positioning of our car at the fastest pump line we leave with a full tank of gas as others look on very angry.

We drive all the way to San Antonio and go to the airport where the United people remained unconcerned, unhelpful, unapologetic, and still saying they will call me soon. They never call. We check in to our hotel. We shower but there are not clean clothes so we go and buy at least new underwear as the bag is supposed to be here soon. We go to the Alamo and I call again and get the "we will be with you shortly" robot who morphs into a human voice nearly 2 hours later! I am not happy. She tells me my bag is no longer in Kansas City it is now in Midland! I told them not to send it there we are not going to be there but I just get the yup we goofed. I explain that I have very expensive hiking gear in there, alpine boots, crampons, gaiters, backpacks, trekking poles, business suit about $1500 in gear and clothes and I need it back. She promises me to call me back within 2 hours. She never does.

Day 5.... my wife leaves and flies back. My meetings at work start the following day. I drive to the airport and face the Untied lame bag people again and they say, the bag is still in Midland. I make sure they notice my 5 day beard, messy hair and 5 days old clothes and leave. I go off that day to let off steam and find Enchanted Rock and have the time of my life playing in the granite in my same clothes. On the drive back.........my wife calls me that United goofed and her return flight delayed and she is going to miss her connecting flight. More frustration. Still no calls to my phone to tell me where my bag is... just the annoying emails every 6 hours saying "we have no clue where you bag is but we will call you soon".Then my phone flashes some headline on email server that a recent survey of twitter accounts indicated that United has the worst reputation of any airline based on twitter complaints and in particular with their handling of bags! No kidding??? Finally, Karen gets a call from United that I can pick up my bag that it has finally been sent to San Antonio. Of course to fly home they treated me to $25 charge to provide the same wonderful service of my bag in their care once again. You would think they would at least waive the fee as a sorry for all the extra time, money, and frustration we caused you but no......

The best part...........even after i finally got my bag back, they continued to send me emails saying sorry we don't know where your bag is for 2 more days!

Ha!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2835 ft / 863 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2835 ft / 863 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10.8 mi / 17.4 km
    Grade/Class:1 & 3
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Cold
32F start 50F end
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2515 ft / 766 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2425 ft / 740 m; Extra: 90 ft / 27m
    Loss on way in:90 ft / 27 m
    Distance:5.3 mi / 8.5 km
    Route:Emory Peak Trail
    Start Trailhead:TH at parking lot   5400 ft / 1645 m
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2745 ft / 836 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2425 ft / 740 m; Extra: 320 ft / 97m
    Gain on way out:320 ft / 97 m
    Distance:5.5 mi / 8.9 km
    Route:Emory Peak Trail
    End Trailhead:TH at parking lot   5400 ft / 1645 m
    Time:2 Hours 20 Minutes



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