Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend, Part 2

It was an early start today. The alarm went off and 6:00 and we were out the door before the clock struck seven. We were headed to our second fourteener; Mount Evans. This peak stands at over 14,264 feet and can be seen from all of Denver. To get to it, you must drive into the mountains on I-70 and then 10 miles on a scenic highway. At that point, you must head up the auto road that actually gets cars just shy of the summit. Looking for a good hike, we parked at Summit Lake and planned to go up Northeast Ridge to the summit, then, weather permitting, we intended to go across the famed Sawtooth Ridge to then summit Mount Bierstadt, another 14er. We would conclude the loop by going back across the ridge and head up to Mount Spaulding (13,842) and then back to the lake. In total, this was going to almost 12 miles.

We hit the trail at 9:00 which is a bit late for alpine hikes. The skies were clear and so we began our ascent from the parking lot at almost 12,400ft. There was no trail, so to speak, on the northeast ridge. The entire flank of the mountain was an alpine scree field. So, we made our own trail and rock hopped for the better part of two hours. Though it was a lot of work, this was good practice reading topo maps and we did get to the summit an hour shy of what the guide book said it would take. It was similar to Mount Washington in that there were cars at the top. It was still a worthwhile jaunt and the views were spectacular.

After a couple of photos, we started heading to the Sawtooth Ridge. By the time we got to the trail that headed over there, the skies were not looking so great. Gray clouds were accumulating and we opted to cut off the Bierstadt part (to both of our disappointment) and just head up to Spaulding. We hiked along a beautiful ridge that had a number of snowfields on the other side. The summit of Spaulding offered great views of the Mount Evans summit and the entire ridge. From there, the trail headed back to Summit Lake. We got back to the parking lot just in time, as the skies were really looking nasty and rain was starting to fall. Overall, it was a great 5 mile hike that took us under 5 hours to complete with lunch and all!

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