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Our second day in Colorado's Sawatch Range was a little harder than the first, but still a fairly easy day. Huron Peak barely qualifies as a 14er with an elevation of 14,003ft. The hike could have been as short as 4mi roundtrip with 3,400ft of gain, but we made a bigger challenge of it by adding four bonus peaks along the 2mi ridgeline extending north from Huron. This moderate-sized loop made for a more respectable 10mi and 4,300ft of gain.
While it was still dark, we drove about half a mile from our campsite at Winfield to our starting point up the South Fork of Clear Creek. We parked where the 4WD road forks, starting from there just after 6a. For the second day I was able to get Eric to postpone our start so we wouldn't need headlamps. The weather was better today, with no clouds whatsoever, and somewhat less windy conditions. The temperature was pretty frigid to start, however, about 34F. After the first hour it would be pretty pleasant for the rest of the day.
We hiked the remaining 1.5mi south up the road to the 4WD TH for the regular route to Huron up the Northwest Slopes. The first hour was spent hiking this trail through forest, during which time we passed two other parties - a trio of young ladies around 20yrs, and a larger group of perhaps a dozen women, ages 13-17 with a few adults, possibly a Girl Scout group. They were breakfasting on the trail, some quite cozily wrapped in sleeping bags and down jackets. They had an impressive variety of food and offered me one of the cookies from a large bag I jealously commented on (I declined politely, suggesting perhaps at the summit instead). They seemed in great spirits though we had no idea if they ever made it to top, as we never saw them the rest of the day.
Once out of the trees we were in a high basin on the northwest side of our peak. The sun had not yet risen above the North Ridge so we continued in the shade for most of the second hour. Behind us, the Continental Divide to the west lit up in fine colors from the morning sun. It was 8:30a before the sun reached us, just as we were nearing a saddle on the North Ridge. Leroy paused here to play in the snow and take a few bites of it to slake his thirst. The trail continues up from here, steeply and sloppily as it climbs the final 600ft to the summit. Leroy and I were the first visitors to arrive just after 9a, Eric a few minutes later. There was only a breeze at the summit and with the sun shining warmly, the three of us lazed about for almost half an hour.
Following our rest, we started down the trail just in time to relinquish the summit to the next pair of visitors to make their way up. Soon after we passed by the trio of young ladies, then left the trail at the saddle to begin the ridgeline adventure. We spent the next two hours following the ridgeline north as it zigzags from one peak to the next. Most of the ridge makes for easy strolling, the only real effort expended when we had to climb a few hundred feet up to each summit - Browns, Peak 13,462ft and Middle Mtn, in turn. Leroy and I spent most of the time out in front, though Leroy would do his best to slow us down when Eric got out of sight. We paused at several snow patches to let Eric catch up and give Leroy a chance to play in the snow. He would use it to eat and roll around in, his way of cooling off. There was a broken register atop Browns Peak and a partially shredded one on Peak 13,462ft, both housed in PVC pipes, commonly used in CO mountains but terribly ineffective. Perhaps Barbara and Gordon needed to spend more time in the state evangelizing the wonders of the glass jar.
Eric and Leroy declined to join me for the last peak, Cross Mtn, about 0.40mi northeast of Middle Mtn. It was the least summit-like summit of the group, really just a small bump before the ridgeline plunges 3,000ft down to Clear Creek. While I was off to Cross Mtn, Eric and Leroy descended Middle Mtn's NW Ridge to the top of a very rough 4WD mining that we would use to descend all the way back down to the jeep. When I returned back to Middle Mtn, I went down the Southwest Slopes into Lulu Gulch where I could intersect the 4WD road at around 11,000ft. When I reached the road, I could see the others high on the switchbacks to the north, so I found a comfortable spot to rest and waited about 20min for them to come moseying down the road to join me. We spent the last hour descending this rocky road, not the most comfortable road to walk on, by any measure, and were none too glad when we finally spotted the jeep at the road junction at 1:30p.
We drove back to our camp at Winfield where we spent a second afternoon whiling away the remainder of the day. Leroy had spent the first half of our day running around the mountains in reckless abandon, the second half walking more calmly down the slope or road ahead of us. When we got back to camp he was pretty spent and lay in the sun sleeping for hours until dinner time. Nice life, that one has...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Huron Peak - Peak 13,462ft
This page last updated: Thu Aug 29 16:57:28 2019
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