Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Mt. Garfield

This week brings Dalton and me back to Grand Junction for the DOT fantasy football draft. I flirted with the idea of climbing to the swan on Grand Mesa, but forgot my day pack so decided a trip up Mt. Garfield was more prudent.

The trail to the top gains 2,000 ft. within two miles. The first section is a very steep climb up a dirt ridge. Then you travel through a hidden valley before skirting the upper ridge. From here the trail is much easier and the view from the top presents the Grand Valley from Palisade to Loma.

On the way down I passed a woman on her way up. I commented "Steep, huh". She replied, "Fucking steep!" :-0 I decided to visit the old mine which is just north of the trail. There is a fossil outcroping there and I picked out some nice shell fossils.

Then it was on to the lemon sqeezer a bit further north. This easy climb through a crack to a secluded ledge is a favorite for kids of all ages.

I was back in Grand Jct. by noon to spend the day with Matt. That night I went to the Feuerborn fantasy draft with Dave and Steve. It was my first glimpse at a keeper league. The following day was the DOT draft preceded by a two man 18 hole scramble. John and I won the tourney! Mostly due to his golfing skills, but I did manage to contribute two birdies.

Dalton did most of the drafting brain work, picking up Cory Dillon and Jamal Lewis in the first couple of rounds. Hopefully he won't have a sophmore slump with his "12 Monkeys" team.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mount Peale

Well, my son Dalton needed his Buick Regal in Grand Junction where he could work on it with the guys who put in his engine, so I had to tow the car there with my truck this weekend. I rented a U-Haul tow dolly and decided to make it a three day weekend.

I set off at 3 AM on Saturday morning to avoid the nasty I-70 traffic. No way I wanted to be stuck in that towing a car. The trip to Grand Junction was pleasant and incident free. This afforded me the chance to cruise on to Moab for a bit of fun.

After visiting the family Saturday, I decided to climb Mount Peale in the La Salle range Sunday morning. No, it's not a 14er but it has been a goal of mine because it is the highest peak in the La Salles (and Moab is way hot in August). The best way to get to the trailhead is to go around the back side of the range through the town of La Salle and up to the pass that way. The other way is only fun if you like rough and rocky.

I must say that ascending the peak in the La Salles is much different than Colorado 14ers. I was the only one on the mountain all day. In fact there were surprisingly few campers around medicine lake. On the climb up I got off trail in an area that experienced an avalanche last winter. Quite a scene with trees uprooted and rocks thrown about. So off the trail I went and up through some steep and loose scree. My advice is to stay in the valley even if you get off trail. If you cut through the scree you will hit the main trail above (like I did.) From the summit you get excellent views of the La Salles and you can see the Henrys, Blue Mountain, the Grand Mesa and the Sleeping Ute.

The trip down I stayed on the trail. There was snow in the valley so I tried a bit of glissading. Quite a fun day all by myself!

Later that day we decided to go shooting. I had won a muzzleloader from a raffle ticket I bought from Tosha for the Little Britches Rodeo. Here are shots of Veronica and me shooting at the police range. You can see the mountain I climbed in the background.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Colorado Trail Section 21

After picking up camp we started our back country road trip to Spring Creek Pass. I was a bit worried about having enough gas, because my truck had less than half a tank (16 gal.), but we made it fine and witnessed some awesome cliffs around Cathedral. We decided to pop into Lake City and pick up some bread and beer.

On the way back up the pass, it was raining quite hard and we were leary of setting up camp in the rain. After a very cold and wet weekend in these mountains last Labor Day, we were willing to rent a cabin but could find no one to rent us one. It turned out perfectly though, because we found a camp spot at the Spring Creek Pass corral and the rain finally subsided.

The next morning we headed out for section 21, travelling east. From the highway it is a two mile uphill hike to the top of Snow Mesa. As we topped the mesa we saw three bull elk. One six point and two five points. They were quite spooky and took off after I snapped a picture. Then the trail is a 3.5 mile hike across Snow Mesa to a small pond where the trail turns North and skirts a very beautiful valley. Just before the lake we spotted a sizable herd of elk to the south. Just awesome. The trip around the valley was very cool. You can see an interesting saw tooth rock formation just below the lip of the mesa.

We had lunch at the 7 mile point and returned the way we came for a total of 14 miles. We are saving the other half of 21 for another excuse to travel down to the beautiful La Garita Wilderness.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Colorado Trail Section 20

Nick and I travelled to the Stewart Creek trailhead for a trip up San Luis Peak. We camped at the same spot as last time and got started Saturday morning at 6:30 AM. We passed a man and his 60+ dad and a group of three older gentlemen who were camped a couple of miles upstream.

We decided to make a loop of it and take a trail to the right, but we read the map wrong and ended up bushwacking up a false summit. Along the way we say two huge bucks just above timberline. It turned out all good because the adventure lead us to San Luis anyway.

I arrived at the summit at 9:20 AM to find three other hikers who had spent the night near the summit. One in their party had summitted 30+ 14ers, and had camped atop a few of them. Nick arrived 20 minutes later and we had a nice sandwich with tea alone at the top. What an awesome view from here! You can see Uncompaghre, Wetterhorn, Sneffels, Redcloud, and Sunshine. You can also see the Grand Mesa and my hunting grounds.

We started down the other side of San Luis headed for Section 20 of the Colorado trail. We passed the end point of our hike from last Labor Day. Labor Day 2004 was cold and extremely wet. It was the worst night I have ever spent in a tent, but the hike from above Creede to the San Luis peak saddle was awesome and had us looking forward to this return trip.

The trip back to camp was long, long, long. Nine miles in all. The trip is beautiful for most of the way, but the never ending valley at the end was quite a test.