Sunday, July 17, 2011

Huron (Take 2)

Saturday evening we were both bummed that we hadn't reached the summit of Huron. Due to its remote location, I was not looking forward to making a return trip. After some debate and discussion, we decided to give it another try. However, we didn't want to hike the same trail we had just come down.

We turned to Dan's original plan of following a jeep road to the peak's north ridge. Along this ridge were several summits we could tag en route to Huron. We didn't want to be shut out due to the weather again, so we planned for a very early start. We moved the Xterra to the base of the road and set up the big tent, which felt luxurious after a night in the backpacking tent.

We got up at 4:30 and were on the trail before dawn. The full moon lit our way up the old Jeep road that we followed to the beautiful basin of Lulu Creek. From here we spotted a good route to the ridge. There were tons of columbines, which we were very careful not to step on.

Once we obtained the ridge, we actually traveled back towards the jeep road to summit Middle Mountain and Cross Mountain. From Cross we could see the town of Winfield that we hiked and then drove through yesterday.


Laurel hiking down Cross Mountain. From front to back, the peaks are Middle Mountain, Point 13,462, Browns Peak, and Huron Peak.

We retraced our steps back to Middle and then headed towards the unnamed point on the ridge leading to Browns Peak. There was actually another small bump on the way as we scrambled to the top of Point 13,462. We were surprised to find a summit register up there. It was deposited a month earlier and already three other hikers had signed it.

Then it was on to Browns. We replaced the old tattered summit register. Unfortunately, the ink had dried up in the pen we brought, and the pen that was already in the register tube was busted. Hopefully the next person can leave a pen or pencil.

The ridge got rockier between Browns and Huron. Dan was completely in his element and I was a bit exposure-shy. It actually wasn't too bad and the talus was fairly climbable.

We summited another unnamed peak (Point 13,518) just for fun, and then it was finally on to Huron! We hiked the last 600 vertical feet quickly and reached the summit at 10:30. It was a gorgeous morning and the top was crowded. There was an 80-year-old man from Germany who reached the top shortly after we did. Most impressive!

Our respite was short, as clouds were already building around us. We hiked back on the Huron Superhighway for about 1,500 vertical feet, only retracing about half a mile of the trail we had hiked down yesterday. Dan wanted to find an old Jeep road marked on the map that would get us back to where we started in the morning. We navigated along the northwest slopes of Huron until the clouds got dark and we felt some rain.

At this point I was getting really nervous about still being above treeline, so we dropped down a couple of hundred feet into the trees to have some protection from potential lightning. Quite unexpectedly, we found a very old faint trail that led us all the way back to our original Jeep road. The weather held above us for the rest of the afternoon and the trees offered some shade from the hot sun. We returned to the tent around 2:00 after summiting 7 different peaks.

We took a nice nap and then contemplated our next move. We were both tired of backpacking food and there weren't any other peaks in the neighborhood that we were interested in, so we decided to pack up and head to Buena Vista for real food. We found a great Mexican place that served us despite our appearance after 3 days in the mountains. After picking up some additional provisions we headed to Mount Yale, found the trailhead, and set up camp at the neighboring campground.

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