Jul 30 2012

Grays & Torreys Peaks

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

I left work at 11:00am on Friday, finished loading up the Jeep and made my way east on I-70 to the Front Range. One of my personal goals for the year was to hike to the top of three 14ers, so I decided to try and hike the Grays Peak and Torreys Peak combo to knock two more off of my list. I made it to the Stevens Gulch trailhead around 3:00pm and found a nice campsite nearby. Had I arrived later in the evening, I doubt I would have been able to find a nice campsite right near the trail. There were a few sprinkles of rain in the afternoon, but they only lasted for a short time. I spent much of the evening reading and relaxing. The sky stayed overcast until I went to bed around 9:00pm, so I didn’t even bother taking any photos around sunset.

My campsite with a nice view in Stevens Gulch. Grays Peak is visible in the distance.


Stevens Gulch Camp by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

My alarm woke me up bright and early at 4:00am on Saturday morning. After having a quick breakfast of oatmeal and getting my pack ready for the hike, I was on the trail at 4:30. I started the hike up Stevens Gulch under a canopy of stars with the silhouettes of the surrounding mountains just barely visible. There were a few other people on the trail at this time, but they were pretty far ahead of me, so I was by myself for a while. It was nice, especially since I knew the trail would be packed full of people in a few short hours. The stars soon faded as the dawn light arrived. As I was nearing the base of Grays and Torreys I was treated to the first light of the day striking both peaks as the sun was just rising in the east. I took a few photos of the peaks glowing orange before starting my climb up to the top of Grays Peak.

Just as the sun started to rise, it gave Torreys Peak a purplish glow for less than a minute. Luckily my camera was handy.


Early Torreys by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Then the mountains in front of me were bathed in amazing warm light. It was an incredible sight and made me wish I had dragged my heavy DSLR along with me. The mountain lit up in this photo is Torreys Peak.


Torreys Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Here’s a view with Grays Peak on the left and Torreys Peak on the right. The angle and location of this photo makes Torreys look much higher, but Grays is actually three feet taller.


Sunrise Hike by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Another view of Torreys Peak from further along the trail as the warm light has started to fade.


Cairn & Torreys by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

When I reached the summit of Grays Peak there were only 4 others up there, which was nice since I would notice later in the day that were a lot more people up there. Grays Peak, at 14,270 feet, is the highest point on the Continental Divide in the United States and is also the highest mountain in the Front Range.

There were only four people on the summit of Grays Peak when I arrived. As I hiked down later, I would look up here and see a much larger crowd.


Grays Summit by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

The view from Grays summit over Chihuahua Gulch and Ruby Mountain towards Peru Creek.


Chihuahua Gulch by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
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Jul 3 2012

Uncompahgre Peak

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Original Trip Report on ADVENTR.CO

At 14,309 feet, Uncompahgre Peak is the highest point in the San Juan Mountains and the 6th highest in Colorado. It was also our destination this morning.

After work on Friday, Jackson and I loaded up my Jeep and headed south to the San Juan’s. We made a quick stop for dinner in Montrose and then we were soon passing through Ouray and turning off the highway on the rough road following the Uncompahgre River and Mineral Creek. Next we found ourselves driving at just under 13,000 feet as we crossed Engineer Pass and dropped back down along Henson Creek. When we reached the rough road that follows Nellie Creek we turned onto it and climbed a few thousand feet again until we had reached the boundary for the Uncompahgre Wilderness area and the trailhead to Uncompahgre Peak. We quickly setup camp in what was left of the twilight and got to bed early.

Bright and early on Saturday morning we were up and having a quick breakfast before starting the hike. As we entered the wilderness our surroundings were still in the shadows, but occasionally we would catch a glimpse of Uncompahgre Peak lit up with a golden early morning light. Next time I will have to get an earlier start so I can take a few photos of that (and also bring along my DSLR).

Uncompahgre Peak lit up with golden light on a cloudless morning.


Uncompahgre Sunrise by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Uncompahgre Peak…that way!


Intersection by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Easy trail through the alpine tundra.


Path to Uncompahgre Peak by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This butterfly was warming up in the sunlight along the trail.


Sunning Butterfly by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

After gaining the main ridge around 13,000 feet we followed it towards the peak.


Ridge to the Summit by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

This marmot was sitting in the sun while the rocks behind were in the shade.


Marmot in the Sun by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Looking down on the trail we just ascended with a cool-looking unnamed peak in the background.


Unnamed Peak Below by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Starting up the most difficult section of the trail. Just some Class 2 scrambling required.


Rocky Area by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Finally we reached the summit. Jackson taking photos in the background.


The Summit by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr

Jackson on the summit. We couldn’t see the Grand Mesa because of smoke from the wildfires on the horizon.


Jackson on Uncompahgre by IntrepidXJ, on Flickr
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Aug 15 2011

Colorado Adventure 2011

August 8-10, 2011

Last Sunday I headed out to the Front Range area so I could do a little exploring. After getting caught in traffic on I-70 that turned the 4 hour drive into a 7 hour drive, I met up with Amanda and her family at the hotel they had reserved for a few days. We spent Monday at Rocky Mountain National Park, which was actually my first visit to that park. I started out with a drive up the Old Fall River Road and then just checked out a few of the main views along the road with a few short hikes. It was a good way to get acquainted with the park so that next time I can plan a little better.

Never Summer Mountains
Never Summer Mountains

After driving up the Old Fall River Road to the Alpine Visitor Center I met up with Amanda and her family again. After taking in the views from the Visitor Center we continued on to the Gore Range Overlook with this nice view of the Never Summer Mountains.

 

Forest Canyon View
Forest Canyon View

Next we traveled over Iceberg Pass on the Trail Ridge Road and stopped at the Forest Canyon viewpoint.

 

Bear Lake
Bear Lake

After stopping at a few more viewpoints along the way, we eventually made it to Bear Lake…..we even managed to find parking when we arrived!

 

Bear Lake B&W
Bear Lake B&W

We took the easy stroll around the lake…this photo is from the opposite side. We stopped at a few more places along the way and then left the park to head back to the hotel. We took part of the Peak to Peak Highway back.

 

On Tuesday morning I left early and parted ways with Amanda and her family so that I could do some exploring on my own as I slowly headed back towards Grand Junction. My first stop of the day was driving to the top of Mount Evans so that I could bag my third 14er (and the second one in a week!). After completing that goal, I stopped to take a few photos of the many mountain goats just below the summit.

 

Bah-ah-ah
Bah-ah-ah

 

The Look
The Look

 

Cute Baby Goat
Cute Baby Goat

There were even a few baby goats around.

 

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Aug 6 2011

Mount Sneffels

Saturday, August 6, 2011

 

This morning I set out with my friend Jackson to climb my second 14er (after climbing Handies Peak last year). We got a very early start and drove to the upper trailhead in Yankee Boy Basin. Unfortunately, about halfway up, Jackson started not feeling so well and had to turn around. I continued on by myself to the summit (well, there were plenty of other people on the trail with me). There were a few sections that scared me a bit, but I was able to face my fears and continue to the top…..and then make it back down again. It was a beautiful day and I had a great time and am glad I was able to accomplish this goal I set for myself this year :)

 

Gilpin Peak
Gilpin Peak

A view of Gilpin Peak from the trail in the early morning light.

 

Start of the Climb
Start of the Climb

An early and easy section of the trail.

 

Hiking Towards the Spires
Hiking Towards the Spires

View towards Blue Lakes Pass from the trail.

 

Blue Lakes Pass
Blue Lakes Pass

Now a view down on Blue Lakes Pass from the top of the first chute I had to climb.

 

The Upper Chute
The Upper Chute

Looking up at the second chute I needed to climb up from the saddle.

 

Climb Through the Snow
Climb Through the Snow

Looking back down through the section of snow I had to climb up. It was easier than it looked to get up, but I certainly didn’t want to go back down this way. Luckily, I didn’t have to since I followed a group back down a different way.

 

People on the Summit
People on the Summit

Looking up the final climb to the summit….plenty of people up there.

 

The Blue Lakes
The Blue Lakes

View from the summit down on the Blue Lakes.

 

At the Summit
At the Summit

Me at the summit.

 

Yankee Boy Basin
Yankee Boy Basin

A view down into Yankee Boy Basin on my way back down.

 


Jul 12 2010

Handies Peak | My First 14er

One of the goals I set for myself this year was to hike a 14er. Yesterday morning two friends and I hopped into my Jeep and headed down to the San Juan Mountains to try Handies Peak. Handies Peak is 14,048 feet high and ranked 40th out of the 53 14ers in Colorado. I chose this mountain because it’s relatively close to home, but mainly because it is one of the easier trails to the top of a 14er. From American Basin the trail is only 5.5 miles round trip with about 2500 feet of elevation gain.

Since we were in my Jeep, we headed south to Animas Forks via Silverton and headed over Cinnamon Pass to reach American Basin. We ended up starting the hike a little later than we had planned, but we did end up reaching the summit by around noon. There were a number of dark clouds forming around us when we reached the top, but luckily we only had a few sprinkles of rain fall on us during our descent. I definitely struggled a little from the saddle to the peak, but am happy to report that I did make it all the way to the top :)

Here’s a few photos from our climb.

Handies Peak towers above my Jeep in American Basin before we get started.

Hiking to the top

Andrew

Me.

Andrew and the trail ahead

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