8.02.2005

A little hiking, a little biking

Saturday was another hiking day. This time I checked off another centennial thirteener off of my list to bring my total to 27 out of 100. I also traversed the connecting ridge to gain two more summits, but both peaks are considered unranked because the ridge does not drop the requisite 300 feet between peaks. The hike started out following a 4WD road to a high alpine lake at the base of rugged peaks. The road has a few large obstacles, and most of the vehicles that drive it are “modified” with lift kits and differential lockers. I was there to hike anyway, so I left my car at the base of the road where there is an old abandoned mill building. Once at the lake, the route traverses around the south shore where it passes an old ruined car, and I mean old. The car looks like something from a 1920’s gangster movie, but rusted out severely. The climb takes hikers away from the road and the lake and into a high basin. I left the basin earlier than the route and climbed up a steep class 3 gully to try and gain the ridge earlier. This gully was unfortunately full of bad crumbly rock, and I exited via a steep alley about a third of the way up because the loose rock was not fun. The alley was more stable, but the ledges were covered in loose dirt and made route finding slow and careful. Once out of this section, the terrain eased back up and joined the ridge. The ridge itself was relatively flat, and afforded great views of the neighboring peaks, namely the fourteeners Mt Lincoln and Mt Democrat. There was one large false summit, then some more flat section of ridge before topping out on Clinton Peak at 13,857’. From here there were great views to the west, including down into the climax molybdenum mine at the base of the peaks’ western flanks. Wow, that is a big hole in the ground! The ridge up to this point was all on the Continental Divide, and I continued to follow the Divide to the summit of McNamee peak, which only rises 80 feet form the connecting saddle. At this point the Divide heads west, but I headed south to collect Traver Peak, at 13,852’. The peak was a fun hike, but despite being almost as tall as Clinton, and separated by another peak, the summit is unranked. From here I completed my circle tour of the ridge by descending Traver’s East Ridge back towards the 4WD road. I didn’t drop into the basin as the standard route suggests, and stuck to the ridge a little longer. As the ridge leveled out onto a high bench above the road, it became obvious that this was the steeper option. There were a few class 2 grass filled gullies, but I opted for the slightly more challenging rocks. Solid rock is always more fun than steep dirt anyway, and it is better for the environment because it avoids erosion to the soils. Following the road back down I saw several modified 4WDs on the road, all of which were headed to the lake.

Sunday I was thinking of climbing again, but opted for some mountain biking instead. A lot of the weekdays I go up after work, mostly on Beaver Creek’s access roads. There are a lot of interesting roads behind the Singletree neighborhood in Edwards, however, and Sunday I took my maps and decided to explore. The road are all dirt forest service roads, and are sometimes frequented by people with dirt bikes or ATV’s, so mountain bikers need to be aware of motorized uses on the trails. They are a lot of fun though, and mix climbing with some fun descents. I personally am still a little leery of downhill mountain biking, so the roads being nice and wide, well wide enough for an SUV anyway, makes descending much more comfortable for me. It started raining right as I got back to the pavement, and I had to bike the 4 miles home in a brief shower, but it was an altogether fun ride. Someday they will probably build houses back on these roads and pave over all the trails, but for now there is a whole world to explore by bike, and I plan on checking it out again soon.