UPDATE, 22 October 2008

David and Chiva are taking a break from the Tour de Dog but are sure to plan another ride in the near future. A sincere thank you to all of you who helped David and Chiva in countless ways. The Tour de Dog would not be possible without your support. THANK YOU!

View a Photo Documentary of Tour de Dog by Jason Houge

Tour de Dog is past states: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario, and New York.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Gannett Peak Grind for Michelle Rigney

Coming out of the deserts of Nevada, I was deeply saddened and troubled to learn of a good friend’s passing back in Delaware. Michelle Rigney, a sister of my friend Mark Rigney, passed away from Melanoma at the age of 22. Eric and I would like to dedicate the Gannett post and climb, likely the biggest accomplishment to date of the Tour de Dog, to Michelle and the Rigney family to let them know they are in our thoughts and prayers. Michelle was a positive force and true fighter that never gave up to the end, and I will use her example of beauty, strength and determination as inspiration for the Tour de Dog. Click here to learn more about Michelle, how you can help, and the upcoming Miles for Melanoma event.

A "M" for Michelle atop Gannett

After four full days of non-stop hiking and climbing in a variety of backcountry situations, I now understand why Gannett Peak is often rated as the most difficult highpoint in the lower 48. The Glacier Trail is 57 miles of raw Wyoming wilderness and includes many challenges: CONSTANT mosquito swatting, NUMBING river fording, deep forest bushwhacking and route finding, unfathomable amounts of mud, high altitude rock climbing, deep snow glacier crossing, and unpredictable weather. It gives me extreme pleasure and satisfaction to tell you that Eric, Chiva, and I overcame Gannett’s obstacles and summited the highest point in Wyoming.

Eric, a longtime friend from Delaware, made the eight hour drive from his home in Colorado Springs for the Gannett climb. His tenacity and preparedness provided Chiva and me with a needed boost to reach the top. He also did a wonderful job with pictures as you will see. Thank you Eric!

For those of you who have climbed Gannett, you know this is no walk in the park. Foot and paw care were my biggest concerns, and we did what we could. Chiva continues to amaze and to prove herself as a long distance hiker and climber. With her slender and lean build, she is handling anything and everything thrown her way. She is the ultimate biking/hiking/camping/anything partner, and I would not be doing any of this without her by my side. If anyone has any specific questions about the climb, I would be more than happy to answer them. I think the best way to detail the hike is by pictures. Below are just a few favorites. Please enjoy!

Eric's shoe after the Glacier Trail


Anonymous said...

Eric McLeod:

Great trip summary Dave!!

A few comments of my own to add about a very demanding climb/hike:

Just 2 days prior to the hike, Dave informed me of his plans to tackle Gannett and promised me it would be a challenging adventure. I had no idea what this peak had in store for us. Nonetheless, I made a last minute decision to drop everything and join him and Chiva in Wyoming. Besides, Independence Day was upon us. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate our independence than to venture into the backcountry and stand atop a breathtaking summit with Dave and Chiva. No BBQ and fireworks for us this year.

I made it clear to Dave before I left that my intent was to make it to the top. This enthusiasm was well received by Dave, but quickly tested on the arduous trek to reach the base of Gannett Peak. Our initial intent of going in and knocking it out in three days was quickly put aside. With a little help from Mother Nature, our determination paid off and we were able to make the summit on day #3.

During our hike out, Dave had asked me the top 5 things that stuck out about this trip.

1. Chiva – What an amazing dog! While Dave and I struggled with ice axes on the crux of the climb, Chiva struts right up and down the steep pitches making it look easy. When we’re tired and slowing, Chiva is still sprinting after marmots. Nothing gets this dog down! Dave is incredibly lucky to have such a great friend along for their journey.

2. The summit – I have to say that this was one of the most satisfying moments of the trip and made the tough work involved well worth it.

3. The wilderness – The isolation of Gannett from any highways or roads lends to very few people out there. I remember one of us saying, “We saw more moose than people.” In fact, Dave and I didn’t see a single person in 2 days when we were climbing and returning from Gannett.

4. The mosquitoes – With the exception of the higher elevations, the concentration of mosquitoes was pretty intense. No bug spray or deet could repel these little buggers which tested every last nerve.

5. Great times with a long time friend - I figured if Dave and Chiva can commit to such a bold undertaking (Tour de Dog), then I should definitely contribute what I can to a small part of their journey. I was thrilled to catch up with both of them for this section of their trip and ended up with a memorable adventure.

Until next time, Safe Travels!

Tracy in Dallas said...

Well done! Sounds like it was a pretty tough hike. Did you put Chiva in your backpack for the river crossings? Awesome Awesome pictures!! Thanks for the trip report Eric!

Chiva and David Sylvester said...

Hello Tracy, how are you? Have you done Gannett?

Chiva crossed the rivers and streams herself on this hike. I "pack" her in the pack when sharp objects such as ice and rocks are present. For smaller distances, I will put her up on my neck/shoulders and rest her on the top of my pack. These techniques are responsible safety measures.

Dylan Wright said...

Awesome accomplishment... Who knew that a dog would be able to climb gannett. I was wondering if you could give some information on the route you took and if you needed or should of roped up in some sections. I would also like to know about the stream crossings... what they were like. Three of us will be climbing gannett via the glacier trail July 13th-18th. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
Dylan Wright

Trisha said...

Woo hoo! Nice work guys (and gal)! Amazing pictures. Hope your feeling energized after your accomplishment!

tracy in dallas said...

Hi David + Chiva - I have not done Gannett yet but it's on my list (along with the other 41 high points I have not gotten to yet)... but I will. I nabbed 9 high points in my first year of high pointing. I'm going on a 10 day trip that will get me 7 more in October! I love following you and Chiva on your journey. Stay safe!!

Chiva and David Sylvester said...

Thanks for the comment Dylan! Here is my advice:
1) bring good sandals for the stream crossings---do your best to keep your boots dry for the hike as this is much better on your feet. Plenty of dry socks. Make sure your boots are well-fitted and broken in.
2) bring an ice axe for sure. Rope and crampons certainly will not hurt, but we did not use them. The snow was just right, and we were able to dig our boots in without the fear of falling. Know how you deal with exposure.
3) at the last major stream crossing, stay as close to the Dinwoody River as possible. It is easy to get sidetracked here, and it will lead to unpleasant bushwhacking.
4) enjoy the hike. The rushing water is amazing. Look for moose in the meadows. Take lots of food for energy! It is a wonderful hike that has it all. Best of luck! Please let us know how it goes.

David and Chiva