7.5 miles RT
4,400 ft elevation gain
1 nice camping spot
I wanted to go camping in a very bad way. So Nate and I decided to head to Missouri Gulch. The last time I was up there was 10 years ago, where I climbed all three peaks in a day. Ahhh I was 21, so young and full of energy... Now I'm 31, with a lot of energy still, but I've lost a step and feel sore after a climb unlike 10 years ago. Ah well, still tons of fun!
Nate and I decided to hang up the skis last month for the rest of the season, but as you will see, Missouri is still in good shape for a ski descent. Belford however is dry as a bone.
We started hiking up at 4:30 p.m. on Friday with perfect weather. I really love the big pine trees along this trail.
Big pine trees along the trail
Beautiful waterfall along the trail
After hiking for about an hour I really started to remember the trail and how much I liked this area. And by the way, the trail is completely snow free. In fact the only snow we encountered was for about 10 ft. near the summit.
View to the North from the trail
Nate hiking into camp
In short time we hit the trail junction near treeline. Here is where we started looking for a good camping spot. We ended up finding a great place just a short ways up the Elk Head trail between some willows and pine trees.
Hmmm... Where to set up camp
From our site we were greeted with nice views of Belford.
At about 9:30 we were about to go to sleep when it started to snow on us. It was at that time that I noticed a head lamp on the ridge near Missouri's summit! I was flashed my light at the person up there to see if they needed help, but the light disappeared after that. Some people pronounce Missouri as "Missourah", but I'm pretty sure that the guys up there in the dark and snow pronounced it "Missery"... Ba dum ching! Anyone? Anyone?
Anyways around midnight we woke up hearing a few guys hiking back from the trail, which we assumed were the guys up there before.
We woke up at 5:15, ate breakfast, and started hiking at 6:15 for Belford.
Morning light on the ridge
After about 20 minutes of hiking I started feeling a little strange. Nate asked me if I was okay, but I started feeling a little dizzy. I realized that I didn't eat enough breakfast, so I stopped and ate a granola bar. After that I felt great and we cruised up to the summit in an hour and 40 minutes from camp.
We knew that weather would be coming and it had been sunny, yet snowing off and on during our climb, so we moved quickly to beat the storms.
View from high on Belford
Looking South into the basin
When we arrived on the summit I saw something very strange. There was an unopened can of Coors Light just sitting there. I almost cracked it open to celebrate the summit, but then I thought, who would carry a can of beer to the summit and not drink it? I then started to imagine the things someone might have done to the can to make them not drink it, so I left the can alone!
Look what I found on the summit
Nate on the summit
Nate on summit with Missouri, Iowa, and Emerald
I really wanted to take Nate over to Oxford since he hasn't climbed these peaks yet, but the storm clouds were coming and it was time to get down. Nate did his best to lift the cloudline though.
Nate lifting the clouds
The hike back down was uneventful, but very cold. Both of our waterlines froze up. We met a few people coming up as we headed down. The first guys we met ended up turning back about 50 hundred feet from the summit due to the incoming weather. We met another group much further down as well.
Then we met 2 guys that just looked defeated as they were breaking camp. I asked, "were you guys up on Missouri at 10 p.m. last night"? It turns out they were! They had a late start and then glissaded down the ridge in the dark, then lost the trail. They did see my light though from the previous night.
As we headed out, the weather directly above us was nice and sunny the whole time, but the peaks were getting socked in with snow. Here are a few shots on the way out.
Marmot keeping a close eye on things
Peck Peak from the Trailhead
Parting shot of Massive from Leadville
Parting shot of Massive from Leadville