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Month: August 2019

Grand Basin Traverse: The Basins of Mineral Creek

Black Bear Pass to Columbine Lake
Saturday, August 17, 2019

This weekend I decided to skip the peak bagging for a minute and just wanted to go on a nice hike in the high country through the upper basins of Mineral Creek near Silverton. I have wanted to hike to the turquoise blue waters of Columbine Lake for a long time but I didn’t really want to follow the steep trail that everyone else does, so I decided that I would drive up to Black Bear Pass and then hike over to the lake by passing through a couple different high alpine basins and maybe stop at a couple of passes along the way. Now after hiking this route I’ve got to say that it was pretty amazing! One of the nice things about this hike is that it was all above treeline and pretty much stayed between about 12,600 feet and 13,000 feet. There were a lot of ups and downs along the way, but it didn’t feel like I was climbing a steep mountain and the route offered spectacular views in all directions right from the beginning. This Grand Basin Traverse takes you through Mineral Basin, Porphyry Basin, Silver Cloud Basin and Mill Creek Basin on your way to Columbine Lake. Along the way you have the option of climbing up to two different passes for views into Mud Lake Basin and Bridal Veil Basin, plus you will also pass by Porphyry Lake, Bullion King Lake and a number of other small tarns along the way. This is definitely the way to hike to Columbine Lake!

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Mount Columbia via Frenchman Creek

Saturday & Sunday, August 10-11, 2019

I had such a nice time in the Sawatch Range a couple of weeks ago when I climbed Mount Yale that I decided to return again this weekend with Diane so we could go on an overnight backpacking trip along Frenchman Creek and climb Mount Columbia (14,073) on Sunday morning. Since we didn’t have a long hike ahead of us, we slept in later on Saturday morning before heading out on our way to the Arkansas River Valley. We stopped at K’s in Buena Vista for lunch and then from there it was a quick drive over to the Frenchman Creek Trailhead at the boundary of the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness. When we arrived I was pretty surprised to find that there were no other vehicles parked there, plus we would not seen anyone else on the trail all weekend. It was a little bit strange, even for a non-standard route on a 14er, especially on a weekend on this side of the mountains, but I’m not complaining!

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Riding Along the Rim of the Grand Mesa

Flowing Park to Point Peninsula
Sunday, August 4, 2019

After spending Saturday morning hiking to the summit of Red Mountain #2 and then going to a concert in the evening, we slept in a little later on Sunday morning before heading out for the day. It has been a while since we have gone on a mountain bike ride, so we decided to head up onto the Grand Mesa for a few hours with our bikes. After looking at a map we decided to give the Flowing Park Trail a try since it looked like there wouldn’t be too much elevation gain and that it would follow along the rim of the Grand Mesa for a while offering us distant views of the surrounding landscape. While I had hoped to ride the full loop when we started, we ended up turning around when we reached Point Peninsula and returning the way we had come. Even though we didn’t ride the entire loop, I do believe this was still our longest mountain bike ride ever, so there’s that. During the last few miles of the ride back to the trailhead we got caught in a storm and were soaked by the time we arrived back at my Jeep. It was a good time!

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Three Out of Three: Red Mountain No. 2

National Summit Day | Final Peak on the Abrams – Anvil Ridge
Friday – Saturday, August 2-3, 2019

Over the years I’ve viewed the summit of Red Mountain No. 2 from many different vantage points; reflected in Crystal Lake from Ironton Park, along the Jeep road to Corkscrew Pass, while exploring the old mining buildings of the Red Mountain Mining District below, and from the top of many of the surrounding peaks in the area. This weekend I had a concert to go to on Saturday evening so I was looking for a peak to climb that was pretty short and close to home. Since I’d already climbed Red Mountain #1 and Red Mountain #3 I figured it was finally time to finish off the trio. Not only would this be my third and final summit of the Red Mountains, but Red Mountain #2 was also the only peak along the ridge on the east side of the Million Dollar Highway between Abrams Mountain and Anvil Mountain that I had not climbed yet, so it would be nice to finish that ridge, too. This turned out to be a fitting hike for Saturday morning since it was apparently National Summit Day, even though Red Mountain #2 is not a ranked, high or popular peak. Those are my favorite kind!

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