Monday, September 26, 2022

Square Top Mountain

Southeast Ridge from Guanella Pass
Trailhead Elevation: 11,652 ft.
Summit Elevation: 13,794 ft.
Distance: 7.00 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 2,578 ft.
Start Time: 8:00am
End Time: 11:26am

Trip Report:
When you're looking for an easy summit on your way out to Denver International Airport Square Top Mountain comes up as a great choice. My brother and I were heading from Buena Vista into Denver and our flights weren't until after 5pm. We didn't want to waste the day sitting around and so we decided we should find a morning summit. We wanted something fairly accessible, fairly easy, and predictable timewise. I had first brought up Bierstadt as we had already summited it a few times and knew we could get up and down in a predictable time. My brother wanted something new so we looked on the other side of Guanella Pass for our answer.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Drift Peak

My brother David atop Drift Peak

Northwest Ridge from Mayflower Gulch
Trailhead Elevation: 11,512 ft.
Distance: 4.30 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 2430 ft.
Start Time: 10:27am
End Time: 2:22pm

Trip Report:
Drift Peak is a little spoken of 13er at the southern end of the Tenmile Range. We looked at it when we were pursing a goal of summiting all the 13ers in the Tenmile Range. We had been close to it several years prior when we were on Fletcher Mountain and recall thinking how close it looked. Little did we know the connecting ridge between the two is quite difficult. Several days prior to our attempt in 2022 on Drift we were again nearby on Wheeler Mountain. It also has a nasty connecting Ridge with Drift. One would think Drift almost unreachable if not for its northwest ridge. This route turns out to be a modest class 2 route that most hikers will find within their reach.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Unchecked Desires

[Originally published in the Monroe News on September 23, 2022]

Have you been watching the new series on Amazon Prime Video called “The Rings of Power”?  If you’re not a fan of The Lord of the Rings or author J.R.R. Tolkien, or you’re not an Amazon Prime subscriber, it is possible it has skipped your notice or simply doesn’t draw your attention. For fans of the Tolkien works this has been a series roughly 4 years and possibly a billion dollars in the making.  It has been met with high anticipation and equal anxiety as to whether it will be a series faithful to its origins.

I’ll reserve judgment on how the series is going so far as I’ve only seen the first three episodes.  I also won’t spoil anything for those of you still waiting and watching.  As I have spent time contemplating the early episodes of this series and what might lie in store in the upcoming episodes it has had me thinking about the wondrous theological nature of the world that J.R.R. Tolkien created.  When you read his original works like The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings you can’t help but get a sense that his world and the values found therein reflect a lot of our own world.  You can feel the battle between good and evil.  You get a sense of Tolkien’s morality and his love of life and all things green and growing.  

Tolkien seems to have a good strong grasp on the finer intricacies of our human nature.  He understands our weaknesses and foibles and we see this in the struggles that his characters encounter.  This is especially true when it comes to how his characters deal with unchecked desire.  What happens when we indulge all the desires of our heart?  What happens if we bend to every whim that flows forth from within.  If we were to simply do whatever we feel like all the time, how would that turn out for us?

Ellingwood Ridge - La Plata Peak

Ellingwood Ridge route to East La Plata and then La Plata's summit and then descent on the northwest ridge (standard) route.

Trailhead Elevation: 10,161 ft.
Ellingwood Ridge Summit: 13,220 ft.
East La Plata Summit: 14,186 ft.
La Plata Summit: 14,344 ft.
Distance: 12.30 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 6111 ft.
Start Time: 7:18am
End Time: 8:13pm

Trip Report:
Both the blessing and the curse of this ridge is that you have to make it. There's no turning back. It is quite possibly the most committing route in all the state of Colorado. There is no escape.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Tenmile Sea-to-Sea Quintuple

Spruce Creek TH to Mt. Helen to Father Dyer Peak to Crystal Peak to Pacific Peak to Atlantic Peak with descent through Mohawk Lakes Basin back to Spruce Creek TH.

Trailhead Elevation: 10,373 ft.

Mt. Helen: 13,164 ft.
Father Dyer Pk: 13,615 ft.
Crystal Pk: 13,852 ft.
Pacific Pk: 13,950 ft.
Atlantic Pk:  13,841 ft.

Distance: 12.92 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 7392 ft.
Start Time: 6:16am
End Time: 5:12pm

Trip Report:
In 2018 my brother and I did the classic Tenmile Traverse. This was starting in Frisco with Mt. Royal and hitting all 10 of the peaks above Breckenridge stopping at Peak 10. We've fallen in love with the area of the tenmile range and the beauty of the peaks and the surrounding valleys. Since 2012, we had also climbed North Star and Fletcher giving us a nice head start on climbing all the high peaks in the range.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Wheeler Mountain

Wheeler Mountain

South Ridge from Montgomery Reservoir
Trailhead Elevation: 10,961 ft.
Wheeler Elevation: 13,690 ft.
Distance: 10.34 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 3442 ft.
Start Time: 11:41am
End Time: 6:34pm

Trip Report:
Weather led us to Wheeler. My brother and I had a series of hikes planned out for our trip and a very rainy Thursday September 22 foiled our immediate plans. So we weighed our options. The forecasts did suggest a possible improvement, even clearing, of things by mid afternoon so we explored options with a late start. What we were looking for was a peak where we could stay somewhat low and uncommitted until close to the ending. In part this meant no ridge hikes. We eventually settled on Wheeler as it fit the description of what we were looking for. We've also been eyeing the possibility of finishing all the peaks in the Tenmile Range. In fact our plan for the next days was the quintuple of peaks from Helen to Atlantic. It also appeared the weather forecast up in the Tenmile was somewhat better than down in the Sawatch where our main base was located.
Montgomery Reservoir
So we drove on up to the easy to find Montgomery Reservoir trailhead and parked. We had heard a few things about the 4WD road there including one person's trip report who said parts of it made the Lake Como Road in the Sangres look easy. That certainly raised an eyebrow. Right at the trailhead we witnessed a jeep already making its way up the road and moving on to the step of deflating tires to help make the passage.

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Boulder Green Mountain Loop

Boulder Green Mountain Loop
Amphitheater Trail to Saddle Rock Trail to E.M. Greenman Trail to Summit. E.M. Greenman Trail to Ranger Trail to Gregory Canyon Trail to Finish.
Trailhead Elevation: 5,906 ft.
Summit Elevation: 8,245 ft.
Distance: 5.58 mi. 
Elevation Gain: 2,396 ft.
Start Time: 2:38pm
End Time: 5:34pm

Trip Report:
If you had 4 hours to do any hike in the Boulder area what would you choose? Or expand the question: if you had 4 hours to do any hike in the greater Denver area what do you do? This was my happy dilemna. I had quite a window of time to work with upon flying into Denver about 8 hours before my brother. I even entertained the possibility of driving out to Guanella Pass to do Bierstadt I realized Boulder was a very reasonable drive from DIA so that became top choice. In Boulder, I decided a summit of Green Mountain would really suit my tastes best. I originally decided on doing the west side trail up Green. It was certainly easier and much less steep and I didn't want to risk much with my legs on this first day.

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