Sunday, August 5, 2012

Harvard and Columbia

Ann and I drove to Buena Vista Saturday night so we could camp at the trailhead and get an early start in the morning. We found some pretty good pizza in town for dinner and then went to set up camp. Despite there being a lot of other cars and a lot of other campers, it was a quiet night. Of course, I didn't sleep much though. I don't know what it is about the first night in a tent. Had we camped another night, I would have been dead to the world for sure. Oh well.

Sunday morning we got up a bit after 4:00 and were hiking by 5:00. We knew the bottom part of the trail well, having been there in June. As we got to the Columbia cut-off trail the sun was lighting the way. However, today we continued on the Harvard trail to attempt Colorado's third highest peak. The trail was well-built and the scenery was beautiful. We hiked through some willows, reminiscent of Mount Bierstadt. Then the trail snaked through lots of rock. It seemed to go on forever, but finally after nearly 5 hours we were at the base of the summit block. After a couple of neat scrambling moves we were on top.

It was now 10:00 and clouds were starting to form in the Colorado blue skies. The route to Columbia was 2 miles away on top of a rocky ridge--a long way from treeline. We decided to hike down the ridge for 20 minutes and re-evaluate the weather and terrain.

Twenty minutes later we decided the best course of action was to turn around and descend. We were moving too slowly to safely traverse the ridge so we backtracked to the trail. Nine and a half hours we were at the car. Thought there were dark clouds all around, we never got rained on or hard thunder. Better safe than sorry!

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