Sunday, August 29, 2010

Belford and Oxford

Nick invited us to join him on some fourteeners yesterday, and despite the super early start we were happy to do so.  We met Nick in Morrison at 4am (ugh) and he drove south of Leadville to the trailhead.  We started hiking by 6:30 up the steep switchbacks from the Missouri Gulch Trailhead.  The trail led us through some beautiful aspen groves and alongside cascading creeks.  Soon we were above treeline and could see the summits before us.  The trail up Belford switchbacked up the west ridge.  From the base of the mountain we could see dozens of curves in the trail up to the summit.  The three of us slowly plodded along to the top.

We summited Belford at 10am.  Dan was having a rough time as his ankle was rubbing in his boot.  He decided to stay on the summit while Nick and I hiked over to Oxford.  We descended 750 feet along the steep east ridge of Belford and then ascended nearly the same amount up Oxford.  It was a quick stop, as the clouds were beginning to build, now that it was after 11:00.  We retraced our steps and met Dan on the steep east ridge.

We decided to make a loop out of our return trip and followed the Elkhead Pass Trail to Elkhead Pass.  The landscape was very cool as it had a number of plateaus interspersed between the mountain groups.  We got to the pass and headed back north along the Missouri Gulch Trail.  We passed the turnoff for Missouri Mountain (no one wanted to try for #3) and continued back to the cars.

Despite the dark clouds, there was no thunder and very little rain.  At one point there was a little graupel, but it didn't last long.  Overall, it was a 9 hour day.  We covered about 12 miles and 5800 feet of elevation change.  (The camera battery was very low, so we only got these three pics.  A local trail runner ran up these two mountains a few weeks ago and posted a lot of pics.  If you want to see more of the trail and the landscape, click here.)

No comments: