Monday, August 30, 2021

Longs Peak, Colorado (with Jerry and Cheryl) - 8/27/21

Longs Peak (credit: Rationalobserver)

Jerry and Cheryl on the Ledges heading toward the Trough

On Friday, Jerry and Cheryl climbed Longs Peak in Colorado. Cheryl sent us this wonderful photo essay with their photos. The exceptions are the two photos above. The first is from the Wikipedia website which is credited to "Rationalobserver." The second photo was taken by a hiker behind them who later emailed the pic to Jerry and Cheryl. The two mountaineers impressed all the other hikers on the trail with their healthy age of 66 ... especially at the Keyhole "decision"! Congratulations!

Sunrise and City Below (Boulder?)

Starting out at 3am
Longs Peak (Arapaho: Neníisótoyóú’u) is a high and prominent mountain in the northern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,259-foot fourteener is located in the Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness, 9.6 miles southwest by south (bearing 209°) of the Town of Estes Park, Colorado, United States. Longs Peak is the northernmost fourteener in the Rocky Mountains and the highest point in Boulder County and Rocky Mountain National Park. The mountain was named in honor of explorer Stephen Harriman Long and is featured on the Colorado state quarter.
      Trails that ascend Longs Peak include the East Longs Peak Trail, the Longs Peak Trail, the Keyhole Route, Clark's Arrow and the Shelf Trail. Only some technical climbing is required to reach the summit of Longs Peak during the summer season, which typically runs from mid July through early September. ~ Wikipedia

Blob of light is Hiker Headlamps (Quite a few on the trail.)

Getting Rocky

Getting closer to the Boulder Field. Longs Peak behind us. It was so cold and windy! We stopped soon before this photo below and put on our coats. I took off my lightweight gloves to put on my jacket and exchange the gloves for warmer ones. By the time I got out my jacket and put it on, my hands were numb and I had trouble zipping up my coat! ~ Cheryl

Closing in on Boulder Field (Longs Peak in distance.)

Beginning Boulder Field ("Diamond" on Peak)
Outside of this window the popular "Keyhole" route is still open; however, its rating is upgraded to all "technical" as treacherous ice formation and snow fall necessitates the use of specialized climbing equipment including, at a minimum, crampons and an ice axe. It is one of the most difficult Class 3 fourteener scrambles in Colorado. The hike from the trailhead to the summit is 8.4 miles each way, with a total elevation gain of 4,875 feet. Most hikers begin before dawn in order to reach the summit and return below the tree line before frequent afternoon thunderstorms bring a risk of lightning strikes. The most difficult portion of the hike begins at the Boulder Field, 6.4 miles into the hike. ~ Wikipedia

The Boulder Field - Notch is the Keyhole

See the notch opening up on top there? That’s called the Keyhole. You hike up to it and cross through and head left to start scrambling on the backside of the peak. The Keyhole was crowded with about 20+ hikers either going through it and continuing to the peak or standing in the hole trying to decide if they should continue with many turning back. The wind was about 40+ mph in this spot and just hammered through the hole toward us on this side. We went through the hole, turned to the left and… ~ Cheryl

The Ledges - Heading toward Snow Smattered Gulley

The Ledges

The Ledges
After scrambling over the boulders, hikers reach the Keyhole at 6.7 miles. The following quarter of a mile involves a scramble along narrow ledges, many of which may have nearly sheer cliffs of 1,000 feet or more just off the edge. The next portion of the hike includes climbing over 600 vertical feet up the Trough before reaching the most exposed section of the hike, the Narrows. Just beyond the Narrows, the Notch signifies the beginning of the Homestretch, a steep climb to the football field-sized, flat summit. It is possible to camp out overnight in the Boulder Field (permit required) which makes for a less arduous two-day hike, although this is fairly exposed to the elements. Fifty-eight people have died climbing or hiking Longs Peak. According to the National Park Service, two people, on average, die every year attempting to climb the mountain. Less experienced mountaineers are encouraged to use a guide for this summit to mitigate risk and increase the probability of a summit. ~ Wikipedia

The Trough - Iced and Somewhat Slippery

After traversing The Ledges we head left and up the gully called The Trough. The ice and occasional snow made it very slippery.

Once you get to the top of The Trough, you head left onto the Narrows. You can see why it’s called that.

After traversing the Narrows you’re almost to the summit but you need to go up the steep, slabby Homestretch.  Stay in the cracks and hold on tight! 

Some of the wider cracks reminded me some of Bridge Mountain. 

Stepping onto the summit

Views from Summit

Back down the Homestretch


Back across the Narrows


Back across The Ledges

The Ledges

Back through the Keyhole

Back across the Boulder Field

Back down a lower trail and, several miles and sore feet, legs, and arms later, the car. Then Subway! 
~ Cheryl & Jerry

Stats: 15.6 miles; 5520' gain; 14.5 hours      (Kudos!) 

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Robbers Roost to Shady Hollow, Pt. to Pt. (Easy Moderate) - 8/28/21

Cowboy Washington Trail

Shady Hollow Trail

Cabin Road

Shady on Cabin Road
A Fine Nine beat the heat today on a hike down from Robbers Roost Trailhead to Stepladder Trailhead by way of Shady Hollow and Tin Can Alley. With a slightly earlier start and a faster Saturday group, we squeezed 5 miles into an originally scheduled 3 mile hike. Yep. The temperature was in the mid-80's when we finished at the Stepladder Trailhead. A nice cool breeze helped us along. We started at the Robbers Roost Trailhead and dropped down the hill. Turning to the right and a small right again, we found the road that runs by an old storage cabin that workers used while running telephone wire up to the summer homes near Deer Creek. After a photo at the old cabin, we continued down the hill taking the right option when faced with any forks in the trail.

Fine Nine at the Cabin

Cowboy Washington Trail

Cowboy Washington Trail to Stepladder Peak

Shady Hollow Trail
Our original plan was to continue down Stepladder Trail for a 3 mile hike. But, we were doing so well that we changed the plan to turning left onto Shady Hollow Trail. At the lower intersection, we turned right onto Tin Can Alley and followed it all the way to where Shady Hollow connected again. By this time, it was quite warm. We were prepared and circled around the Stepladder Peak ridge to finish at the Stepladder Trailhead. The car shuttle ensued and we tucked a hot 5 miles into our pocket. Beautiful albeit warm morning.

Stats: 5 miles; +373' gain; -1690' loss; 3.25 hours

Tin Can Alley

Tin Can Alley

Shady Hollow Trail

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Upper Lee Canyon Wash (Easy Moderate) - 8/21/21

Upper Lee Canyon Wash

Pallida Road (parallel to wash)

South Sister from Lee Meadows

Primping for Onlookers
For this point to point hike, the fine nine took three cars up to Sawmill Trailhead, left one car there, and drove all nine hikers up to Lower Bristlecone Trailhead. When we arrived at the trailhead, a man was grooming his horse in the parking lot. It was such a beautiful horse that we all just watched in awe! What a sight! We saddled our packs and started down through the pine grove toward Lee Meadows. There was a carpet of yellow flowers on the hillside with South Sister rising in the back ground. And, on the edge of the meadow, there was a well-placed seesaw! Rita and Tom couldn't resist a little playground fun! We continued down through the grassy meadow and came across five wild horses munching on the greenery. They were happy and didn't try to beg us for food. 

Gentle Hill down to Meadows

We hiked down through the lower meadow and on across Lee Canyon Road. Just past the traffic circle, we found a decent place to drop into the Lee Canyon Wash.

We're really just big kids!

In 2014 or 15, a huge flood washed down this canyon and on out to SR 95 where the NDOT spent the following months moving dirt around.

Lee Peak from Lee Meadows

Interesting Stuff in Lee Meadows
As a result, the Lee Canyon Wash was cleared of a lot of debris. Now, the wash is a nice wide flattish gravel wash that is used as a thoroughfare for those horses we saw at the meadows. Since this hike was this club's maiden voyage for this route, we had a plan to take the wash as much as possible with a side track on Pallida Road to avoid a couple of overlying trees. Pallida Road is almost invisible to the eye but, it is there, flowing easily down through the flat pine glade. During our hike through this wash section, we came upon an old stove, an old bridge trestle, a large tree with a sign on it that has long since been obliterated and private property signs that indicated no trespassing was allowed too far to the right side of the wash.

Dropping into Lee Wash near Pay Phone Trailhead

There was only one or two places where the required out and in of the wash was a bit steep and slippery. There was an option of stooping low through the little round culverts.

Stewart enjoys the Hike

Pallida Road seemed like it might have been the previous Lee canyon dirt road since it ran parallel to the wash for much of the way down to the Deer Creek Road crossing.

Interesting Stuff in Lee Wash

Shade Break on Pallida Road
The culvert that ran under Deer Creek Road at the Lee Canyon Road junction is much larger than the earlier little round ones. Most of us decided to bend through the culvert since this seemed like the easiest option. On the other side, we quickly reached the rock wall on the right side where we arrive on the route of one of our other hikes. We took our break and photo here on some large logs. Afterwards, we continued down the wash that we were somewhat more familiar with. It was really weird that we came upon a make-shift grill and a blanket covered stash of packaged chicken and whatnot. Now, who would just leave perfectly good food out in the forest to let rot! (Must schedule a hike soon to pick up trash.)

Back in the Wash

We also passed the double tree that grew right around a log that fell in the middle of their fork. It is an interesting anomaly.

Plenty of Shade in Upper Wash

As we approached Champion Road, we saw campers in the campsite on the right side of the wash. Then we watched as two different cars passed us on their way up to Lee Canyon Road.

Culvert under Deer Creek Road

Fine Nine at Deer Creek Road / Wash Intersection
We let the dust settle then followed behind the cars to the left hiking up the hill and across Lee Canyon Road. Today was the first time the club had done this hike and it was very enjoyable. Great group of club members! Fun day!

Stats: 4.3 miles; +81' gain; -974' loss; 2.75 hours (not counting the car shuttling)

Following Wash down to Champion Road Crossing

Climbing Champion Road to Sawmill

The Lower Trailhead (Sawmill)