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What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Bill Cummings » Wed Mar 06, 2013 10:47 pm

I agree with those who argue that going for Grizzly Gulch in a minivan loaded with 7 is very ambitious. Me, I wouldn't do it. I agree it CAN be done, but if you get stuck out there with your whole gang, that would not be fun. And if anyone gets hurt at your campsite (fairly likely at some point with a group of boys), you've got a long way to drive out for help. Also, there's not a lot of stuff for a group of boys to do out there other than the climbs.

Also agree that June is pretty early--maybe cold, maybe sloppy, some lingering snow, maybe some ice patches. Do-able, but not the best time for mountain climbing.

Have you already done the Buena Vista/Salida area? Lots of climbs there (some fairly "easy" ones), lots of other hikes, and lots of other stuff to do (fun towns, restaurants, sightseeing, rafting, kayaking, etc.) Plenty of good campgrounds near there, without the funky drive. I like the Buena Vista KOA--you can camp there, it costs a little more (but not a lot), and you get showers and campground hosts who can give you lots of ideas for activities. (Also a KOA in Ouray, another fun town with plenty to do.)

There's also some pretty good forest campgrounds on the Guanella Pass Byway, near Georgetown. Good access to Bierstadt, Grays, and Torreys, and no funky driving.

Bottom line: Grizzly Gulch is beautiful, but I think there are better locations for you and your gang.

A couple of good references you may find helpful:
Best Tent Camping in Colorado (be sure to get the most recent edition--2012):http://www.amazon.com/Best-Tent-Camping-Car-Camping-Civilization/dp/0897329902/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362630887&sr=1-2&keywords=best+tent+camping+colorado

Frommer's Best RV and Tent Campground in the USA (kind of dated but still worthwhile):http://www.amazon.com/Frommers-Best-Tent-Campgrounds-U-S/dp/0470069295/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1362631011&sr=1-1&keywords=best+rv+and+tent+campgrounds+in+the+usa

Feel free to shoot me a PM if you have some additional questions.
Bill "Blind Willie" Cummings

"God loves you just the way you are. But He loves you way too much to let you stay that way." --"Junebug"
"You can't argue with the truth when it comes up and bites you on the buttocks." --Peter Lang

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Famof7 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:44 am

Thank you for your responses. I would really like to get up and camp at GG, but I have no interest in the destruction of my car. I think the appeal is having 3 doable mountains to climb.

However, having other activities for the family is important and access to water is without question a bonus. I have narrowed down a list of mountains that my family can climb that is a class 2 or less, near a campground, and in the San Juan's or Sangre De Cristo Mt's. There is probably a ton of other choices that I have overlooked and/or do not know about....feel free to make suggestions.

The one that stands out is camping Mill Creek and doing Sunshine and Redcloud, though research shows Sunshine to be a good steep climb in spots. Keep in mind that we want to reach the top, but it's not a priority. My family having moments to remember and safety is what we are about and if we have to turn back its not an issue.

Also

Camping Willow Lake and climbing Challenger Point.

Mt. Sneffles also looks like a good choice.

I am not opposed to 13'ers and will probably start looking into them as options.

Thanks.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure".

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Mar 08, 2013 10:37 am

You could put together a pretty nice trip based around West Spanish Peak. There are campgrounds with lakes and trout streams in the area (including state parks with reservoirs in Walsenburg and Trinidad), and the Sand Dunes are about an hour away - kid heaven. You could also drive back south through the San Luis Valley into New Mexico, hit Santa Fe, etc. There's also some interesting stuff around the Colorado/New Mexico/Oklahoma corner area, like Capulin Volcano and Black Mesa (Oklahoma's high point). Just some random thoughts, if it's your first trip to Colorado this would get you some sights while saving you a few hundred miles of driving each way.

Camping at Willow Lake requires a backpack -- I don't know if that was one of your options.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby GeezerClimber » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:11 am

Willow lake is beautiful but it does require a backpack which you didn't mention in previous posts. If your family is willing to backpack, many possibilities open up.

The slope up Challenger point is extremely ugly and loose. It is one of the least favorite 14ers for that reason.

Dave

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Famof7 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:17 am

Thank you for the suggestions.

This will be "our" second trip into Colorado. The first being two years ago in June. We took everyone on our Honeymoon to Durango. We did the train, Bar-D, White Watered, and scrambled up Mt. Engineer a bit....which I think is what has us wanting to actually do some real climbing.

I have actually been to Durango probably 15 times in the past 30 years. Grandfather bought land and built a house back in the 70's... My trips were to ski Wolf Creek/Purgatory and enjoy the area. Unfortunately no climbing.

We have minimal gear, but we have the necessities both for camping and hiking as long as we stick to easy class 2's or 1's. We have only 2 Backpacks at this time, but that can change if needed.

TKS
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure".

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby DanielL » Sat Mar 09, 2013 12:54 pm

While this is being discussed, I'm planning to climb a bunch of the San Juan 14ers with a good sized group of people this August. We were going to take two smaller cars, but what about driving a Mercedes Sprinter up the Grizzly Gulch road? It has pretty good clearance. Another question I have is how tall the rock cutout on the Yankee Boy Basin road is. Would a van with 8'6" of height be too tall?

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby justify429 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 7:04 pm

Depends on your comfort level of driving... I have made it to both American basin and gh trail heads in my 2wheel drive loaded down Pontiac vibe with very minor undercarriage rubbing. But like I said depends on your comfort level with the obstructios infront

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