The plan was for a second attempt at Lindsey on Labor Day. We left Walsenburg about 6 and drove the 47 mile trip in just under two hours. The last ten miles challenges low clearance, two wheel drive vehicles but the Fusion made it to about halfway between the Huerfano and Lily Lake Trailheads. At 8:15, we loaded up and headed out. 500 feet later, it began pouring and we returned to the car to wait the storm out.
About 9, it quit raining and we observed a patch of blue moving in from the west, so we restarted the hike at about 9:15. We reached the Lily Lake trailhead in good form and continued toward the point where the Lily Lake trail split off from the Lindsey trail.
At this point, our misadventures began. First, we had read that the Lily Lake splitoff is not well marked, so we assumed the sign was gone and we split off at the very first opportunity. This was premature.
Next, we had read that the crossing of the Huerfano River was difficult so we went up and downstream looking for a way across. We managed, but we were now downstream from the supposed splitoff.
Third, we had read that the trail on the far side of the Huerfano was thin and spotty, so we looked for a "thin and spotty" trail. We found numerous segments of game trails going up and down. It began to look bad when a barbed wire fence blocked our path. I decided we needed to be closer to the river and we ended up bushwhacking into a bog. At this point, thoroughly frustrated, I was ready to call it quits and hike to Lily Lake and maybe California Peak instead. Well, what literature and logic could not accomplish, frustration did and we found the trail on the correct side of the Huerfano some distance upstream from our misadventures. By now it was after 11, and a summit of Lindsey loomed less likely.
Still, it was becoming a beautiful day,
Early view of Ellingwood and the hike especially above treeline is beautiful, one of my personal favorites, so I quietly decided we would go for it and reconsider at 12000 and possibly at the Lindsey-Iron Nipple saddle. We followed the trail (which was much better than what we had been following) and crossed the gulch on a bed of rocks near 11700.
The Well known mine--circa 2005 We then climbed out of the valley and reached a rise where there were great views of Blanca and Ellingwood Point. We went a tad off trail
Heading for better views
This way for better views to get a fuller view of Blanca from the base to the top.
Blanca top to bottom
Lindsey and Iron Nipple from 12000With the sun still shining and scarcely a cloud in the sky, we plodded across the basin
Lindsey looming in the backgroundand began the climb to the Iron Nipple-Lindsey saddle. at 13150. I reached the saddle at 2:15 and waited for Beth. Although we had not seen many climbers at all that day (the total count was 17 and three trip reports) I was leary of going up the north face gulley with anyone at all above me. This despite having my multi-purpose bicycle rock-climbing helmet. So I waited for Beth and heard rockfall on Lindsey to boot.
Kit Carson and Crestones
By 2:45, I had a decision to make, Lindsey
The allure of Lindsey verses safety
Looking up the Lindsey gulley or something else
Iron Nipple and California Peak. Having read all the accounts of rockfall danger on Lindsey, I ended up opting for Huerfano Peak 13828 instead
Huerfano Peak from Iron Nipple-Lindsey saddle. So I set off. I had decided that if I could not make it by 4:00 that I would turn back out of fairness to Beth who was waiting for me at the saddle. At least she had great scenery.
13er between Blanca and Lindsey
Blanca from Lindsay saddle
Blanca and Ellingwood Point
Ellingwood from upper slopes The books suggest there is an easy passage through the lower cliffs of the Iron Nipp to reach a ridge climb for Huerfano. I could not find it, so I decided to reclimb the Nipp instead
Wandering off to Iron Nipple
Near the Iron Nipple summit. At 3:40, I timed out and although I was only about 50 vertical below it, I turned back
Returning from near summit. I had climbed the Iron Nipple on my previous attempt on Lindsey , so it was no great deal either way. I got back to Beth at about 4:00 and we headed down. By now the weather was turning, and I could see it would be a race to get to timberline before it began to rain
Looking back at 5 just before rain and lightning By 5:20, we had made it down to just shy of the gulley crossing at 11700 when it began to pour with lightning to boot. Thus, if I had actually attempted either Lindsey or Huerfano, I would have been much higher when it stormed as well as subjecting my partner to the same without a summit. As it sits, Lindsey will be there for another day
Lindsey waiting for another day and so will we. Still the hike is so beautiful that I will not mind a third attempt.
1. Leave Walsenburg by 4 a.m.
2. Do not assume the sign is missing and try to find the correct crossing of the Huerfano.
3. A thin trail is not the same as no trail. Use your memory and judgement and don't assume the worst.
4. Maybe I can learn to climb the class 3 and 4 ridge for next time.
By 6:30, it had quit raining and the road was dry enough for us to make it back easily. Until next time...