Tuesday June 19th Lone Wolf and I did a Tikaboo climb.
This was my second and (probably) final trip to the top of Tikaboo Peak. The first time it was to pique my curiosity, but the second time (quite frankly) from 26 miles away you really don't see that much and with a backpack it's one hell of a climb.
We had agreed to meet at the camp at the foot of Tikaboo sometime after 6 PM on the Monday night. On the drive I passed the two new solar arrays. Looking at them they didn't seem like they were necessarily anything to do with Area 51, as they were near some existing farm bits and pieces.
One thing I noticed along the drive was that there weren't any branches scratching against the side of my car (this, it turns out, is courtesy of Lone Wolf). However, less than 48 hours later, on the return trip, the branches had started to grow back and a few had grown back again.
I found Lone Wolf's car, but not Lone Wolf. I hit my horn a few times, but didn't hear anything. I figured he was either out scouting or he had assumed I was not turning up and had gone ahead of me. I set off walking the trail, just to get a reminder and after about 10 minutes we crossed paths. He'd started the climb three and a half hours earlier with a backpack with just his tent, sleeping bag and water. He'd left his tent and sleeping bag at the peak and had left water along the way.
Without a backpack it took Lone Wolf 2 hours to climb and an hour and a half to come back. The next day (with full back packs) it took us five and a half hours to climb and three and a half hours to come back.
I volunteered to put Lone Wolf's tripod head in my backpack. He reckoned it was about 6 pounds. That extra weight REALLY made a difference and if I hadn't done the climb before I might have given up. At one point (only a matter of feet from the top of the shale) I simply could not get a grip on the shale and kept slipping back. Not good.
We reached the peak and 1 PM on the next day (Tuesday) and left at around 11 on Wednesday morning. Along the way I had two canisters of fluorescent orange paint. The route is now MUCH clearer to follow. Two years earlier, coming down the peak, Lone Wolf and I missed a waypoint and went through hell to get down. With the new orange markers at any one time you can see as many as six orange markers ahead. We didn't get lost this time on the way down.
The base was covered in a cloudy haze and we heard a plane being told to circle because a dust devil (big enough for us to see from Tikaboo) was on the runway.
When the sun went down, Weapons School started up. We could see (and listen to) a pair of jets preparing for a simulated attack on a convoy north of Indian Springs. We saw (and listened to) three BIG explosions, way in the distance. At least one of the explosions was from a missile and Lone Wolf saw one of the missiles flying to (and hitting) the target. He was sitting in my way so I didn't see the missile, just the explosion.
There was a partial moon that night, and there wasn't going to be a launch while it was still in the sky and it was apparent that it wasn't going to go below the horizon until at least midnight. By 10 PM both Lone Wolf and I were still worn out from our five and a half hour climb and so the pair of us went to sleep. If there was a launch, we didn't see it.
The lesson learned from this climb was 'do not over pack your backpack'. The lesson I learned from my previous climb was to take an inflatable mattress to sleep on and then to sit on it and ride it down the shale. This time around I was almost in free fall! Needless to say, it wasn't until we were on our way down that we began to hear jets flying. They were close, but we couldn't see them for the hills. Another lesson I learned was to workout in preparation. The last time I did a climb I was working out several times a week. This time around I hadn't worked out in about three months and my calves really felt it on the way up.
On the way out I noticed that the rope used to tie the gate shut had a much more elaborate knot on it than the one I tied, so someone else had obviously been through in the 48 hours since I went through it.