Saturday & Sunday, July 12-13, 2014
This weekend I set out to climb my first 14er of the season. I chose to try Huron Peak since it’s in an area of the Sawatch Range that I haven’t really spent much time in, plus it’s not supposed to be too difficult of a hike which would be a good warm-up for me since I haven’t hiked at this elevation since last summer. At 14,003 feet, Huron Peak is ranked 52 out of the 53 ranked peaks over 14,000 feet in Colorado. I had originally planned to climb Huron Peak over the Fourth of July weekend, but unfortunately I got a pretty bad cold that kept me home for that entire weekend, so I was looking forward to making it up this weekend.
I left home early on Saturday morning with plans to hike Huron Peak by myself on Sunday morning. I drove through Glenwood Springs and Aspen so I could take Independence Pass on the way there. I decided to stop at Independence Pass so I could hike over to an unranked 13er unofficially named Igloo Peak which sits at 13,060 feet along the Continental Divide. I figured it would be an easy ridge hike from the 12,095 pass that would help me get acclimated for Huron Peak the following day. There were plenty of wildflowers and great views along the way.
Independence Pass at 12,095 feet along the Continental Divide. Igloo Peak is the high point just left of center in the background.
Plenty of wildflowers along the early part of the trail near the pass.
A view of part of the ridge I would be hiking across.
I had to stop for a few closer photos of the flowers.
I spotted this White-Tailed Ptarmigan on a snow drift just below the ridge. He didn’t stick around long or let me get very close, so this is the best photo I got.
Following the well-defined trail along the Continental Divide.
Looking back across the first high point (12,812 feet) I crossed on the way to Igloo Peak with the Geissler Mountains and Twinning Peak in the background.
After finishing the short hike I continued my drive to Leadville where I grabbed a late lunch from High Mountain Pies before driving south to Clear Creek and then Winfield. From Winfield I took the high-clearance road up the South Fork and found a nice campsite near the old Banker Mine, which was shortly before the Huron Peak trailhead. I explored the area a little before the afternoon storms started to rain down.
On my way to find a campsite near the trailhead for Huron Peak, I passed through the old townsite of Winfield.
A restored cabin found here.
The road along the South Fork of Clear Creek.
An old cabin at the Banker Mine near my campsite for the night.
There was some nice light and clouds when the afternoon storms moved into the area.
Granite Mountain (12,848 feet) over the South Fork of Clear Creek.
A view of Ervin Peak (13,531 feet) from my campsite.
It rained for a while later in the evening.
During a brief stop in the rain, I got out to photograph the low clouds on Granite Mountain.
Later in the evening it looked to me like sunset was going to be a bust, so I decided to try and get to bed early since I was planning on a very early start in the morning. After laying in my tent for a while listening to the rain, it finally stopped. I decided to look outside and saw a nice sunset was starting to happen. I quickly slipped on my sandals and grabbed my camera for a few photos. When the light was gone, I got back into my sleeping bag and tried to get some sleep.
I had set my alarm for 4:00am on Sunday morning, but woke up a few times throughout the night. At 3:30 I decided to stay up and get started since I was feeling pretty wide awake. After a quick breakfast I was on the Huron Peak trail before 4:00am. I was hoping to hike by the light of the Super Moon this morning, but the clouds above prevented that, so I had to use my headlamp. However, once I got around treeline, I broke free of the low clouds and was treated to an amazing view of the cloud-filled valley below with the bright full moon above. I didn’t bring my tripod with on this hike, but I did manage to find a rock to set my camera on for a few photos in the low light.
Since I had nice views of the surrounding peaks from this area just above treeline, I decided to stop here for a while and wait for sunrise. I knew if I continued on towards the top I wouldn’t have as nice of a view when the sun came up. I was hoping the low clouds would stick around for the sunrise, but they dissipated before the sun came up. It was still a very nice sunrise.
The Super Moon over the cloud-filled valley below.
A view towards Silver Basin above the clouds with Virginia Peak (13,088 feet) on the right.
Unfortunately, the clouds dissipated before the sun came up, but there was a slight touch of alpenglow on the peaks before they were completely gone.
A beautiful light show this morning.
Looking in the opposite direction of the previous photo, you can see the magenta light cast across the scene.
Another shot of the Super Moon through the magenta clouds.
The first light of the day strikes Winfield Peak (13,077 feet).
When the sun was finally up I continued my hike to the top of Huron Peak. The climb was a little tough for me since this was my first 14er of the year, but I made it to the top around 7:30am. It wasn’t very cold out and there was very little wind, so I took my time and enjoyed the view from the top for a little while before starting the hike back down.
There were plenty of wildflowers along the trail to the top of Huron Peak.
View over the final ridge from the top. Low clouds still fill some of the distant lower valleys.
An expansive view from the peak towards the Elk Mountains.
Low clouds still fill Taylor Park on the other side of the Continental Divide. You can also make out Lake Ann on this side of the divide.
There was a great view down on The Three Apostles from the top of Huron Peak.
A closer look at the North Apostle (13,860 feet) and Ice Mountain (13,951 feet).
When I made it back to the trailhead parking area I got to do my good deed for the day. Parked next to me was a pickup truck with three guys who had passed me on the trail when I was photographing the sunrise. Apparently they had pulled too far forward and managed to get themselves stuck on a few large rocks. They had tried to jack up their vehicle and place sandbags under the front tires, but that didn’t work. The owner asked if I would be able to help, so I got out my tow strap and gave them a quick tug to get them free. I stopped back by my campsite on the way out and loaded up my gear into the Jeep to start my drive back home. It was still before 10:00am when I left. I drove back over Independence Pass and made sure to grab a burger at GRIND in Glenwood Springs on my way. One 14er down for the year, and four more planned!