Carbon Peak P2K

Tue, Sep 3, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

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I was due in Telluride in the afternoon, but wanted to get a hike in before heading off that way. I had originally planned to do San Luis, a 14er in the San Juans, but decided against the extra 3.5hrs of driving it would entail. Instead, I found a P2K with a 3.5mi trail to the summit about a half hour's drive north of Gunnison and US50. The peak lies on the southern edge of the Gunnison National Forest and sees little traffic. I had grabbed a GPX track off PB (all of the tracks on PB use the same route) and drove up to the starting point around sunset. I had trouble finding the start of the trail and had to zoom into the GPX track on my cellphone to figure it out. Turns out, it's a overgrown use trail dropping down to a creek where it disappears. This much I figured out before it got dark and decided to see what the morning brings.

I slept in until almost 6:30a, the latest I've gotten up in the past two weeks. I wanted to make sure I had plenty of light before looking for the trail and was not disappointed. I hopped across the creek on a few rocks, not too much water this time of year and it's been several weeks since there's been any rain. I climbed up the hill on the other bank, covered in tall grass, looking for a trail. I went up maybe 70-100yds and came across an old road that matched where I expected to find a trail (I didn't actually read any of the PB TRs, which probably would have explained this). Though quite old and mostly unmaintained, there were signs that it had been driven on at least a few times this year where the grass was knocked down. Where the road starts is a bit of a mystery that I never explored. The road makes its way up 1,000ft in less than a mile and a half with one switchback that can be cutoff with a bit of easy cross-country. The road is overgrown at first, but once in the denser forest it is easier to follow and hike along. There are a few road forks that go off God-knows-where, so it helped to have the GPX track handy. The road ends on a ridge about halfway up the mountain where it becomes a trail that will lead nearly to the summit. There are plentiful ducks along the way and it appears the trail sees some modest maintainence, probably by hunters. The trail goes through a few talus fields with ducks, though I had to look around to find it again on occasion. Almost the entire trail goes through forest, nearly to the top with only a few views back to the west. The trail ends on the NW Ridge and the edge of the forest where the summit can be seen with perhaps a quarter mile to go. The gradient is easy here, but the talus-covered summit area can be a little tedious. There is a large steel pole planted at the highpoint which can be seen from a distance. The summit offers far-reaching views, including several nearby P2Ks, Whetstone Mtn to the northeast and the Anthracite Range HP to the northwest. The Gunnison Valley stretches out to the southeast. There are lots of other, unfamiliar (to me) mountains in all directions. There was a register left by Gerry and Jennifer Roach in 2015, with plenty of names filling perhaps 15-20 pages. I was just a tad over two hours in reaching the summit, the return by much the same route would take an hour and a quarter. I didn't see another soul on the entire hike, the first time in twelve days that that has happened. 12ers get so much less love than 14ers in Colorado. Time to head to Telluride...

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