Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mount Neva

Laurel and I wanted to do some kind of mountain run... we got that and more! We were considering South Arapaho but since we had hiked it before and there were other trails in that area to explore, we thought they could be fun. Before we left I discovered there was a 4th class scramble up Mount Neva's north ridge -- that became our objective.

From the 4th of July trailhead we ran up to Arapaho Pass, took a look at Lake Dorothy, then headed off trail to Neva's north ridge. From there the scrambling began -- mostly easy but a few tricky spots where you really needed some rock climbing moves. There were a few downclimbs along the way...

... and some fun places to horse around like the diving-board rock.

We got to a point where it seemed forward progress was blocked. To the left was a sheer vertical face. Ahead was chunkier but it seemed like it would get steeper the higher you'd go, plus it seemed like if we got to the top we'd have to then descend the other side. To the right were a few pillars and even further right was a drop-off. It seemed like we would be able to follow a ramp up and left for a ways, then cut right to go around or behind the pillar to a weakness in the rock that we hoped would take us to more passable terrain.

For the most part our plan worked. On the other side of this hump of rock there was a gentle rock gully. Just a few sketchy traverse moves and we were at the bottom of the gully, which took us up to the ridgeline. From there we could see the way to the summit.

The ridge continued a bit to a large flat rocky place. The sky was a bit hazy but to the southwest we could vaguely see the Winter Park basin and even see some of the ski slopes. To the northeast along the divide was Navaho and Apache, with Dickers Peck in between.

From the flat area we hiked up a gentle alpine slope to the summit of Neva, stopped for food and photos, then continued south to the saddle between Neva and Jasper Peak (which would have been a fun continuation if we had the time). From the saddle we headed east down a scree slope towards a few unnamed lakes.

The scree turned to larger talus with some intriguing colors, textures, and shapes -- white, black, pink, swirled, speckled.

After the talus field we came to a meadow that was swampish in some areas but we tried to find the high ground back to the trail. This took surprisingly longer than expected even though for the most part we avoided the willows. Finally we traversed and hiked up a steep bank to the trail.

The clouds were getting dark but we were OK for the run back down the trail to our car, and only arrived 10-15 minutes later than expected.

In the parking lot we met a girl named Yulia who had flown in from New York for the weekend to hike and camp up at Lake Dorothy. She had taken a bus from the airport to Nederland on Friday, then walked 8 or 9 miles to the trailhead to start her hike!! We gave her a ride back to Boulder so she could catch the red eye and be back at work the next day.

And then we got home in time for Donna and JJ to come over for the football game.

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