Category Archives: Hikes

Camping and then Mt Huron with Tracy and the dogs

On Tuesday, we all went camping in the Winfield area.  I had scoped out a spot when I hiked La Plata last week.  It required us to drive the truck about a mile and a half up the 4wd road to a meadow with a creek.

The dogs had a blast digging up every possible hole.

The sunset was incredible.  It got a little cool during the night but we slept decently until around 2am when a bunch of coyotes started howling.  Izzy was growling a bit, but Darby just shook.

We hiked up the Colorado trail to the Mt Huron trailhead.

Once we got to the basin, we decided to let the dogs run.  Darby did great, but Izzy can’t handle all the critters and wouldn’t listen.  In the picture below, you can see Izzy racing off.

Once back on the leash, Izzy did well.

Once we got to the top, there was a lot of dust.  Actions shots below of the dogs licking their noses.

Darby loves the snow – she is like a polar bear and rolls in it.

At the end of the day, we hiked 13 miles and 4,500ft of climb.

 

Out and back

Today I attempted the out and back that is on the High Lonesome race I’m doing in August. It starts in the ghost town of St Elmo and follows a trail due North over Laws Pass. The pass is 12.3k feet and separates the drainage’s of Cottonwood and Chalk Creeks

 

It’s about 4 miles to the top of the pass and about 2,400ft of climb.  It’s another 3 miles down the other side descending about 2,100ft.  I then turned around and went back.

It took me about 4 hours and 40 minutes round trip.  Beautiful day, but tiring.

La Plata

On Wednesday, I drove back to Winfield and went up the other 4wd road to the trailhead of La Plata.  The approach is a short hike that follows Clear Creek through a gorge.  It flattens out into a beautiful valley that ends in a box canyon.

The trail climbs the canyon wall to a very long ridge that has many false summits.  The ridge slowly climbs over 2,000 ft to the summit of La Plata.

There were so many different type of flowers on the ridge.

La Plata is the 5th highest peak in the continental US at 14,360 ft.

It was another sunny and warm day and the neighbors were out enjoying the weather.

I got a little lost in the marshy area of the trail where you couldn’t tell if it was the trail or a stream.

The Weekend

It was a busy end of the week.  I climbed Huron Peak on Saturday – details coming below; but  my college adviser (Kathy) and her husband (John) stayed on Sunday and Monday night with us.  We had a great time with them and their 3 little dogs.  We went to eat, went on hikes, and even did yoga.  Once of their dogs is very dexterous and can jump 4 feet in the air.

Also, the dogs both got summer haircuts.  Darby is really soft and Izzy looks like Simba from the Lion King.

On Saturday, I drove to Winfield which is an old mining ghost town deep in the mountains.  It happens also to be the turn around point for the Leadville 100 race so I’m very familiar with the area.  I wanted to climb Huron Peak.  The picture below is the mountain which was actually taken on my way to hike La Plata yesterday.

The trail follows a 4wd road for 2.5 miles then turns into a single track that winds up a canyon.   The peaks in the background are the “Three Apostles”.  Huron is to the left hidden by the ridge I’m circling around.

Once you top the ridge, it’s a large bowl that you slowly climb up.  There are well-graded switch-backs climb the ridge.  It was a beautiful day and I moved quickly to the summit

 

The views are incredible from the top

The view with a little Google magic

 

 

 

 

Mt Princeton

The day after I climbed Yale, the dogs and I headed to the Colorado Trail for a long walk.  Once we climbed to the ridge, there was a fantastic view of Mt Yale.  The route I climbed on Saturday is the right slope.

The trail curls around and runs parallel to the valley.  There is a great view of BV for several miles.  Unfortunately,  on the way back, I rolled my ankle and fell down.   It’s unbelievable that I can climb a technical mountain and have no problems, but then fall down on a flat easy trail.

That night, a storm rolled in and made great cloud formations.

Yesterday, I drove to Mt Princeton’s trailhead.  From the trailhead, I followed a dirt road for 5 miles switch-backing up the mountain.  The road was really rough and very narrow, but several trucks had driven up it.  Near the end of the road, the trail broke to the right and dropped into the Princeton Col.  It skirted the ridge, eventually climbing to the southern shoulder.

There was a lot of boulder scrambling along the way.

The climb was fairly easy until the final pitch, which was really steep.

Google did a little magic on the picture below

It’s hard to see in the picture below, but it started snowing on the way down.  Once I got 2 miles down the road, a truck was passing and picked me up and gave me a ride to the bottom.  I was very appreciative since the snow had turned to rain.

A busy week in BV

Tracy had to go home on Monday to meet her friend in Austin.  The dogs and I were so sad to see her go.  However, it was a very busy week.  We took it easy on Monday and Tuesday with just yoga and walks to the dog park.  On Wednesday, the dogs and I headed to a different spot on the Colorado Trail.  The section has a big climb on to a ridge that gives a great view of the valley.  On the way to the ridge, you pass through beautiful Aspen forests.

On Thursday, I tried to get across Laws Pass again, but this time from the North.  I had to drive up a tough dirt road to a trailhead, that will be an aid station in the race I’m doing in August.  The trail was incredible, but I started to hit snow around 11,200ft.  I tried to go around it, but ended up getting lost (I found the trail eventually) but I stumbled across this moss covered stream.  It was breath-taking.

I post holed for a long while and finally threw in the towel about 500 vertical feet below the pass.  The picture below shows the depth of snow on the trail when I turned around.

On Friday, I went to yoga for the 3rd this week and then decided to run(ended up being a hike) up Midland Hill.  The hill is the high point on the East side of the river.  It was harder than I thought; the climb was over 1,700ft to reach the top.  The view of BV was incredible.

Today, I decided to try the East ridge of Mt Yale again.  I was hoping the snow was melted enough for me to climb the whole ridge to the summit.  The climb was much more challenging than I expected.  There were many pitches and a few of them Class 3.  Lots of scree and big boulders to work across.   There isn’t much of a trail, so I needed to pick a safe route up the spine in the left part of the picture below.  Fortunately, most of the snow was melted so there were only a few detours.

I met a guy from Denver at the start of the spine climb.  We soon passed a mom and son that needed a little route guidance.

My poles were a hindrance except for the snow fields so I packed them away for most of the climb.

We finally made it to the top at 14,199 ft.  There were a few other people there, but they’d come up the easier route from the South.  We climbed about 5,500 ft in total to get there.

Tomorrow, I’ll take the dogs back to the Colorado Trail for a short hike.  On Monday, I think I’ll give Mt Princeton a shot

Week 2 in BV

We are in our 2nd week in BV.  We’ve been doing something outdoors every day.  The terrain is rough and it’s tough on Izzy so I got her some socks for walking on gravel.  They work great until we find a river.

Every morning we go to the dog park at sunrise.  This was the view on Monday morning.

Monday afternoon, we hiked a longer trail on the other side of the river.   The new trail goes a little higher up so we got a bigger view of BV.

 

Today I went back to Avalanche Trailhead for my last big climb before the Jemez race this weekend.  I wanted to break my 1:22 time to the saddle, and I did with a 1:10.  I felt great and can definitely feel myself becoming acclimatized.  I climbed the little peak to the right which took me over 12k feet.  I decided to run down and made it in 38 minutes.

 

Getting some climbing in

The last two days, I’ve given the dogs a break since they seemed spent.  I’ve still gone out and climbed a lot to make sure I’m acclimatized for the Jemez race this weekend.

Yesterday, I went back to the same trail and climbed to the saddle in 1:22, which I thought was good until I looked on Strava and saw the record was 50 minutes…

I had hoped to pick my way up the east ridge of Mt Yale, but as you can see it was snow covered.  I then turned East to the unnamed mountain and started to climb.  However, once I cleared tree line the cold winds were miserable so I just decided to run down.  I made it in 44 minutes which makes the 50 minute record even more impressive.

Today I drove to St Elmo, which is an old mining town.  The drive was beautiful and the town is mainly summer homes and a general store.  I was looking for the Popular Gulch trail which is part of the race I’m running in August.  I found the trailhead and started up 1,000ft of switchbacks along a creek.  Once I reached the top, the trail flattened a bit and opened into a beautiful mountain valley.  I hiked through the valley and started switching up the northeast face and again encountered deep snow around 11,600ft.  Once again I turned back and ran down the trail.  My reward was a calorie rich ice cream cone from the general store.

I was almost at the town when I came across this little guy looking for sunshine.  The road I was following doesn’t have a lot of traffic, but I shewed him away to keep him safe.

Tomorrow is Yoga in the morning and a trail run on the east side of the river in the afternoon.

 

First few days in BV

Over the past few days, the dogs and I have explored some of the trails around BV.  On Wednesday, we climbed up the bike trail across the river and took the Whipple trail back down.  Great views of Mt Princeton.

On Thursday, we went 10 miles West of town to the Avalanche Trailhead.  We hiked the CT and  climbed up 2600ft to the top of the pass.  Tomorrow, I’m going to go back without the dogs and do the same hike, but continue West and see how far I can get up the East ridge of Mt Yale.

The dogs are crazy about “mountain gerbils” – they want to dig at every hole.

There is still lots of snow and Darby and Izzy don’t know what to think about it.  Both dogs love to stick their heads in it and Darby also rolls in it like a polar bear trying to dry itself off.

When we reached the top, the dogs were on alert for any wildlife.

Afterwards, we went to happy hour for beers and dinner.  The dogs were exhausted and soaked up the sun.

Today, we went back to the same trailhead and went the other direction.  We did a 5 mile out and back to the river.   The trail rolls a lot, but in total we only climbed about 800ft.  Izzy gets hot and likes to lie down in creeks.