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Month: July 2019

Collegiate Peaks in the Clouds: Mount Yale

Sunday, July 28, 2019

After spending Saturday hiking along the Continental Divide near Lake City, it was time for my main objective this weekend to hike my first 14er of the year! I had decided that I was going to give Mount Yale (14,196) in the Sawatch Range a try and found a spot to camp just up the road from the Denny Creek Trailhead on Saturday evening. I was pretty tired when I arrived and was planning on an alpine start, so I fell asleep before the sun even set for the day. Surprising, I actually slept very well overnight which is rare for me on the night before a big climb, so I’m not complaining! I did wake up briefly a few times throughout the night and heard that it was raining out which concerned me a little since there had been no rain in the forecast and I was hoping it wouldn’t impact my hiking plans this morning. I ended up waking up at 3:45am (my alarm was set for 4:00am) and was wide awake and ready to go, so I got up and headed over to the trailhead to start my hike. I was on the trail by 4:30am and hiking in the dark with a little help from my headlamp. I looked up to the sky and saw there were some stars, so I figured that the storms overnight must have already cleared out.

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Snow Mesa: Baldy Cinco & Baldy no es Cinco

Baldy Cinco Group | Friday – Saturday, July 26-27, 2019

Since Diane was working all weekend, I figured that this would be a good time to attempt my first 14er of the year and had settled on trying to climb Mount Yale in the Sawatch Range. The weather forecast for Saturday wasn’t looking too good, but Sunday was, so I decided to push the Mount Yale hike off until Sunday and find something shorter and easier to do on Saturday morning. Last year I had planned to hike Baldy Cinco and Baldy no es Cinco from Spring Creek Pass in late September but ended up changing those plans at the last minute, so I decided to give that hike another shot now.

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Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower

Overlooking the Four Corners | Sunday – Monday, July 21-22, 2019

After spending Saturday hiking to the summit of Centennial Peak and Sunday morning attempting to hike to the top of Hesperus Mountain it was time for me to head back into Mancos so I could pick up the keys to the Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower where I would be spending the night. I first laid eyes on the Jersey Jim back in 2010 when I was exploring a few roads near the La Plata Mountains on my way home from a week of adventure through the mountains of Colorado. At the time I knew it was available to rent for a night or two during the summer and I thought to myself that I should plan to do that sometime. It was almost nine years later and ‘sometime’ still had not come because I kept putting off making reservations for the tower each summer until it was too late. But since I have been trying to get to some places this year that I have been putting off for far too long, spending a night at the Jersey Jim was near the top of my list and I was thankfully able to secure a reservation earlier this year, even though it was a frustrating process on the phone filled with busy signals!

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La Plata Mountains: Centennial Peak

Plus A Failed Attempt at Hesperus Mountain
Friday – Sunday, July 19-21, 2019

I have been looking forward to this weekend since early March when I was able to secure an overnight reservation for the Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower on Sunday night, and since I was going to be in the area I decided to spend the weekend peak-bagging in the La Plata Mountains. As usual, I left right after work on Friday and headed south into the San Juan Mountains with a quick stop in Delta for dinner. I drove over Red Mountain Pass to Durango and then headed west to Mancos where I took the West Mancos Road into the San Juan National Forest and found a spot to spend the night in Spruce Mill Park just after dark. It had been a long day and I was planning to get an early start the next morning, so I went right to bed.

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West Needle Mountains: Crater Lake

Saturday & Sunday, July 13-14, 2019

This weekend I wanted to finally get out on our first backpacking trip into the mountains for the season. I was looking for an easier overnighter that wasn’t too far from home, preferably in the San Juan Mountains, and after looking at recent satellite images to see how much snow was left in the high country I decided that we would give Crater Lake in the West Needle Mountains a try. From the recent satellite images it looked like there might still be a little snow on the ground in the area, but nothing we shouldn’t be able to get through. All of the other options I was looking at still had considerable snow on the ground and would have to wait a while longer. This six mile trail starts out in the Andrews Lake Day Use Area located just to the southwest of Molas Pass and climbs up to Crater Lake, nestled on the north side of North Twilight Peak in the Weminuche Wilderness. Last year our first backpacking trip into the mountains was also in the Weminuche Wilderness, but thankfully this time we didn’t have to inhale smoke the entire time!

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