Season change

Saturday was my friend Ben's bachelor party. The plan has changed so many times, at first we talked about doing a backcountry hut trip. This would entail hiking 4-5 miles in the snow and it sort of turned off some of the invitees as being too much physical labor. Then we thought maybe of climbing Mt Princeton, a 14er, and basking in the Mt Princeton Hot Springs afterwards, but again was rated to strenous for everyone. Finally we settled on a quick hike up to Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, with a trip to the Glenwood Spring hot springs before barbeque and poker back at Ben's house. The hike went well, there was almost no snow left on the trail as it is lower in elevation and tends to melt out faster. The only patches were in particularly dark parts of the trail. There were a lot of people up there, I was surprised at the popularity of the hike for April, but I guess everyone kind of is drawn to the hikes with the least amount of snow this time of year. The hot springs were nice, its basically just a big pool but it has natural mineral deposits and the water is about 104 degrees. The biggest issue is that one of those minerals is sulfer, so it can get to smelling like eggs a bit. Definitely want to take a shower after being in there! The barbeque was good, steaks with baked potatoes, good "guy" food. Poker was more for fun than actual money, it was nickel ante. I don't know much about the game, so it was fun to not really have much at stake! The wedding is in two weeks in Vail.

Sunday I met up with Tracy in Empire and we drove up to the top of Berthoud Pass, which is at 11,315' on the Continental Divide. Its a great place for an early season hike as the majority of the ridge was wind blown clear of snow. That and there isn't much terrain below treeline so there wasn't too much snow to contend with at all. We climbed from the parking area to the summit of Colorado Mines Peak, a mere baby by my usual standards at only 12,493'. The top is covered in antennae, but otherwise is a nice vantage point of the surrounding peaks. Most of the effort is in this part of the climb, almost 1200' vertical in a mile! From the top there is just a long gentle ridge that first drops 350', then slowly rises 1000' along the Divide to the summit of Mt Flora, which is at 13,132'. From there you could continue on to more peaks, but we decided two summits before lunch was plenty for us for the day. It only took about 4 hours round trip, and this makes for a great "warm up" climb for the summer ahead! I then had the whole afternoon to devote for laundry.

It was closing weekend at Vail as well, it was a good season, they still have a good amount of snow except for right at the bottom. Judging by the picture in our paper today, it was quite a party at the summit! Its sort of a tradition for locals, but rather than fight the crowds for a few slushy turns I decided it was time to start off climbing season in earnest. There is always A-Basin for at least another month if I need to get one last day of skiing!