This is my first trip report but our sixth 14er. My son Will (who turned 13 on July 2) and I have previously hiked Pikes (2X from Crags), Yale, Humboldt, Shavano, and Sherman. The trip reports everyone posts are incredibly helpful, so I wanted to add our story.
My son Will, our dog Sadie and I left Westcliffe at 0630, way too late, as I realized as we were hiking. We got to the trailhead just after 0800. The road off 69 is long and slow. It took us over an hour to get from 69 to the trailhead, and the last seven miles were very slow going. Give yourself plenty of time and patience on 580.
Will at the beginning of the hike.
We were hiking by 0815 and the early climb was relatively flat and easy, but after the boulder field we had a difficult time keeping track of the trail. It is faint at times and not well marked, and it seemed to climb a great deal. We knew we were back on track once we saw the mine which is quite big and seems very out of place so far away from anything. We wandered in there for a few feet before turning back.
The mine. The stories these walls must tell.
A view from the inside of the mine.
We reached the basin looking at Lindsey in the distance at 1000, and it seemed like we had quite a ways to go. Climbing up to the summit ridge we met a nice couple from Denver who made it all the way to the gully before turning back. We reached the summit ridge at 13,000 at 1100 and then the saddle at 1120.
On the way up.
We weren’t ready for the challenges of the gullies, however. They were very challenging, but fortunately another hiker came down and gave us advice on tackling the climb. We left our hiking sticks below the first gully and started climbing. Sadie the dog did surprisingly well going up (but in hindsight she probably should have stayed at home).
Will and Sadie climbing up the first gully.
Nearly at the summit.
We were worn out with the climbing and fighting the clock and the clouds that were moving in. My son and I were both challenged, but we kept going, making it to the top of the first gully at 1200 and to the summit at 1230.
I wish we had more time at the top, but our late start meant that our time was fleeting. We took a few pictures, Will wrote in his 14ers log, and we headed down without having our lunch. Storm clouds were building in the south and we could see the rain falling in the distance. The view from the top was worth it, however. The Spanish Peaks to the south, both sides of the Sangres to the north, including a view of the Sand Dunes and the Needles and then to the east a view of Pikes.
Will writing in his journal. Notice the clouds in the background.
Will's victory pose at the top.
The three of us at the top.
The descent down the gullies might have been more challenging than climbing up them. The loose rock made us slide at times, and Sadie had a difficult time finding solid ground. We slowly navigated down, and the clouds continued to build. We kept hoping to make it to the saddle before the rain came, and fortunately it just spit on us without any lightning. Mt. Blanca looked pretty mean covered in clouds.
Blanca looked pretty mean in clouds.
We stopped for lunch in the upper basin at 1400 and then kept on descending making it back to the trailhead at 1600. It was a long day, and we were all beat tired. 4+ hours up and then 3+ on the way down. The gullies were more difficult than I anticipated. It was a stark contrast to our hike up Sherman just a few days prior.