10 for me, 300 for Mad Dog

First I would like to give a “congratulations” out to Greg Maddux, who just won his 300th game. He is only the 22nd player to ever achieve this feat, and it will more than likely be a long time before anyone else does it. I got home from today’s hike in time to catch the last few innings of the game, but just missed Maddux by a couple of outs.

Today was another long one, the third week in a row (I think next week will not be so long). This one was again a two peak trip, and I finished up the 11 mile hike in just over 6 hours. I climbed Pacific and Crystal Peaks, 13,950 and 13,852 feet respectively, which although they dominate the view from I-70 in Copper, cannot be seen until you are several miles from the trailhead. (Pacific is the big pyramid of a peak you can see south of Copper with the dramatic notch in its west ridge). It is a very nice combination that completes a loop, (no backtracking, horray!), through two separate creek drainages, the route is called “Wind Song”. The wind song loop starts (and ends) at the end of Spruce Creek Road just south of Breckenridge, in fact Crystal is the next peak south on the ridge from Peak 10 (part of the ski area), to give you an idea of how close they are. I climbed along a 4WD road following the Spruce Creek Drainage to the Mohawk Lakes Trail, the lakes lie at the top of a beautiful multi-pitched waterfall that had several other hikers checking it out. Also at the top of the waterfall is an old mining structure that still had a cart (a very rusty and old cart) attached to a cable dangling in the falls! The Mohawk Lakes are amazing, very high (upper Mohawk Lake is at 12,400 feet), and surrounded by tundra and rugged mountain faces whose boulders create the west edge of the lakeshore (Kodak Moment). I even saw two guys fishing in the upper lake, now that is earning your dinner, it’s a 3 1/2 mile hike to that lake! Above the upper lake is yet another even higher, but unnamed lake. From this higher lake you begin the ascent of Pacific Peak’s northeast slopes. There are several gulleys to chose from here, all fairly steep and requiring some Class 3 sections. I chose one that looked good and started to climb up to join Pacific’s ridge. Believe it or not, there is yet another lake above this point! This lake is at about 13,400 feet, and could well be the highest lake in the whole state. The view here are stunning, you are right in the heart of the Tenmile Range and can see 4 of the ranges 14ers and 5 of its centennial 13ers (including the two on my list). The ridge leads right to Pacific’s summit, the 61st highest summit in the state, which is a small area that can only accommodate a handful of climbers. There were two other people right behind me, and we took each others pictures and went our separate ways. They descended, I continued along the ridge that connects to Crystal, the 82nd highest peak. The weather looked like it may start to get bad, so I didn’t spend much time on the summit, just enough to snap a few pictures and sign the register. Luckily the weather held the whole descent, although there were a couple of light sprinkles near the end. The descent of Crystal is on the opposite side of the peak from Pacific, and in a different drainage than the ascent. This is the Crystal Creek drainage, and it passes two more lakes on its way through beautiful wildflower meadows to return to the trailhead and the car. After a quick stop at KFC for some popcorn chicken, it was off to see how Greg and the Cubs were doing, which to my delight, was very well! By the way, these peaks were my 10th and 11th of the highest 100, and Pacific being such a scenic and dominating peak, made it a nice choice for number 10.