Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Bison Peak- the Magical Rock Garden

Bison Peak 12,431'- Lost Creek Wilderness
From Ute Creek Trailhead
~10 miles RT, 3,700' of gain
Camera Used: Nikon D5100 with 18-55mm lens
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.4

This mountain is only 2 hours from Colorado Springs and has pavement up to the trailhead. Yes, in case you missed that, Taryall Rd is apparently fully paved now. It's in the Lost Creek Wilderness, which is both close to Denver, and not at all lacking in varied and interesting terrain.

Immediately after starting you cross a nice bridge

Wildflowers abound

The famous tree bridge

The hint of awesome things to come

The feeling when you get here is so great

Looking at the monolith  on the summit plateau

The summit is back there somewhere

Getting closer to the summit

No trail, but the path is obvious

Nearing the summit, there is a trail going to the top
Despite what you may be thinking, the summit is easy to climb to, really only being class 2. There is nothing difficult required to summit this peak.

Looking SW from the summit

Looking North, there are more rocks around

Beard power

Look at all the fun to be had here

We spent a good 45 minutes climbing on rocks and roaming around the summit area just having a good time and checking things out. You really shouldn't rush the experience once you've put in the effort to get here.

doing some climbing

"The Grotto"

Standing on a little pinnacle

We squeezed through this crevice on the way down, just for fun

More fun rocks to the south

Looking again at the monolith

Looking back at the summit

Perfect day in the mountains

There can be a lot of sun on the trail in the afternoon

Very nice meadows down lower

Getting close to the end

A nice sight to see
This is a great trip. The trail is nice the whole way to the summit plateau, the trailhead is easy to access, and the rock garden is fantastic. I recommend you check this out if you are looking for a change of pace from your usual 13ers and 14ers.  It's really just class 2 with limitless class 3+ potential in the summit area.  You can do this as a day hike or make a trip out of it to fully explore the area. After all, McCurdy mountain is just next door.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grays Peak, family style

DDD Family Reunion

Grays Peak 14,270'

24 Jun 2014

It started as a suggestion from my cousin Brian Ludvigson. "Are we going to do a 14er at the reunion?". I hadn't thought of doing that, but it's not a bad idea! So the idea took hold and I started planning a 14er hiking day. Grays Peak was chosen because it was somewhat close to the reunion location and it was an "easy" 14er for a first one to attempt. There was a lot of interest initially but as expected the group size dwindled from 12 to 8.

Group photo at the trailhead. Not shown- me.

Cousin Brian and Aunt Leslie

What a beautiful day in the mountains...

Coming up the lower trail

Coming up a wet section.

Crossing a snowfield

Group photo about an hour into the hike

Torreys Peak

Getting higher, we started to move more slowly.

At this point it seems you are close, but there is a ways to go.

Heading up through another snowfield.

Mountain Goat

"The Rascal" terrain feature around 13,600'

What are you looking at?

Torreys Peak, again

Looking North
The view before we turned around. Not bad at all.
So at this point Brian wasn't feeling so great. He is from Minnesota and he lives at 600' ASL. Even though we had tried to acclimate him to the altitude, having only 60% of the oxygen available at Sea Level was effecting his mental and physiological state. After resting for about 20 minutes and eating some snacks, I decided that we should just turn around and head down.

He told me that before today, he would have been disappointed having not reached the summit. But after experiencing the altitude first hand, he felt OK with having to turn around. This is no joke, and it effects everyone a little different.

Jacob doesn't do a lot of strenuous hiking, but he soldiered on. He might have been able to reach the summit, although I had been carrying his heavy backpack for about 2 hours in addition to my own. He didn't seem at all disappointed to be turning around, despite being close to the summit of the mountain.

It probably didn't hurt that the views were sublime and the weather phenomenal. You really can't ask for a better day with some interesting and nonthreatening clouds. It did snow on us, but only briefly and weakly.

On the way down
This marmot is watching you

Jacob taking a break

Brian soaking in the views

Jacob looks back on a beautiful day of hiking.

The crew back at the trail-head, Brian, Jeff, Jordan, Jacob (L to R)
Overall this was a great day in the mountains. The weather cooperated and 6 were able to reach the summit of Grays Peak, including my parents and some folks coming up from California. I think everyone who hiked that day came away with something from the experience, and I hope it will inspire them in the future to try some different things.