| Solitude on Lindsey
AFirst, I want to post these lessons we learned in hopes it might help someone in preparing to hike Mt Lindsey. We found very little helpful information as we were planning through the hike, so hopefully this journal will save you some trouble:
1. The Road – the last seven miles of road are really rough. I drove all the way to the parking lot in my car with normal clearance, a Subaru Impressa Outback, but looking back on the decision, it was not a good idea. We made it all the way to the end, so it is doable in a car, but go really slow and navigate carefully. The road gets more and more rough the closer you get to the parking area, so if you reach a point where you don’t feel comfortable moving forward, just know it will probably get worse. …. And by the way, there is no gas station in Gardner, CO; so don’t forget to fill up!
2. The Trail – the trail is easy to follow up to the junction for Lily Lake. After the junction the trail is poorly maintained and hard to follow in places. I would not recommend this hike in the dark. Many fallen trees, side paths, and stream crossings make the trail hard to follow, even in the daylight. As you get closer to treeline, the trail becomes much easier to follow.
3. Camping – We went with the intent of camping along the way. There are several camp sites close to the Lily Lake junction, but very few after that. Once the trail starts to climb, there is pretty much nowhere else to camp the rest of the way. Wish we had known this before we started. We did find some flat, grassy areas near treeline to pitch a tent, but had to hike back down to get to a stream for water.
4. The Summit – the main route near the summit has a lot of scree and is a little difficult to follow. Most of the time, we were able to use the rocks next to the trail to avoid the scree. There are many places where a hiker can scramble up rocks instead of following the scree path. Just watch for Cairns. If you don’t like scree, I recommend just looking for cairns along a path and then follow the Cairns to the top. The scramble may be class 3 or 4, but it felt better to me than trying to navigate through the loose scree. The descent was much worse (and more slow) than the ascent.
now to our trip Summary:
This hike was small part of what my friend and I call our annual “adventure week”. He is from Florida and I live here in Colorado. Once a year, he comes to visit and we spend an entire week enjoying the outdoors by rock climbing, hiking 14ers, camping, etc. Mt Lindsey was part of this year’s adventure. This would be my 17th 14er and the 4th for my friend from Florida.
We began our journey on Monday, 13 August. We left from Colorado Springs in the late morning and arrived at the trail head around 2 PM. I was shooting for a 1 PM start, but the road was much worse than expected and thus it took us an extra hour to arrive. This drive would have been shortened quite a bit with a vehicle with better clearance, but we were in my little Subaru and it was a very slow drive. We did make it all the way to the trailhead though with only minor scratches to the car.
We began hiking about 2:30 PM with the intent of going in a little ways and then camping along the trail. I had read posts that there were multiple campsites and that was a true statement. The only problem, however, is that just about all of them were within the first mile of hiking. It just didn’t seem right to set up camp so soon after beginning our trek, so we skipped out on the campsites and continued pressing forward. After the lily lake trailhead junction, the path became much more steep and the trail was hard to follow, even with plenty of daylight. The trail is in need of some maintenance as there many fallen trees blocking the way, stream crossings, and side trails which will lead you astray. The stream crossings were easy to navigate without getting our feet wet which we were both grateful for.
We continued up the steep trail with our full packs and kept on hiking for about another hour without seeing any places to camp. Finally, just below treeline, we came upon a mostly flat field where we decided to pitch our tent. By this point, we were a little ways past the stream and knew we would have to hike back down to pump some water for our summit hike. Our site, however, was amazingly beautiful with jagged peaks and fields all around us.
We managed to get our tent up just in time before a storm hit. From that point on, it was a very wet and cold night. We realized too late that our tent had a small hole in it and before long, the storm made it a much bigger hole. It was a night full of rain and little sleep as we tried to stay dry and warm. Thank goodness we both had warm sleeping bags otherwise it could have been much worse.
By sunrise the next morning the rain had stopped and we began our trek up to the summit. We loaded up on power bars, caffeinated goos, and five-hour energy drinks to give us the energy we needed after a sleepless night. Thankfully, we had already hiked up so far the night before, we didn’t have that far to go.
The path was steep and shortly after the saddle became full of scree. The path itself was not hard to follow, but many times throughout the hike, we decided just to climb the solid rocks off to the side of the path, versus taking our chances on the scree. We did this most of the way up. Eventually reached a place within about a 1,000 ft from the summit where we saw a group of Cairns going up the mountain on what I would consider to be a class 3 scramble. We decided to take this route as it seemed like a better idea than the loose scree we were currently hiking on. I am glad we did, because this way was easier (and more fun) than what we were on before.
Then, just when we thought we had reached the top, we realized we were on a false summit. It was a very sad moment to realize we still had a little ways to go, but at least the rest of the way would be easier going. We reached the actual summit around 8:30 AM and were thrilled to have the whole mountain to ourselves. We did not see a single hiker going up and there was not a single person at the top. Complete solitude and it was amazing! We spent about 30 minutes enjoying the breathtaking views and solitude before heading back down.
The hike down was much worse than the hike up as we tried to navigate loose scree without twisting an ankle. By the time we reached our campsite, it was about 10 AM and we quickly tore down the site and made our way back to the car. The overall it took us about 7 hours of actual hiking to get up and down and that was with full packs half of the way. Not a real long hike, but a little bit difficult and slow near the summit.
It was a great day and the drive out was just as bad as the drive in. Again though, only minor scratches to the car. In spite of the drive, Mt Lindsey is now one of my favorite 14ers.