Mt. of the Holy Cross - 14,005 feet
Mt. of the Holy Cross - 14,005 feet
|HOLY CROSS! KS to CO part 1|
I'm a week behind but a first time TRer. Having to catch up with work for a week before getting it out there sucks but here it is....
Total Mileage 1429 miles (ok that was just in the car)
Hiking Mileage 19.75 miles
Total elevation gain on hikes 9,200 feet (see part 2)
Just before 2 AM our doorbell rings, it's Dave (my buddy), it's time to go. The plan is to drive out to our destination just south of Minturn, the Tigiwon road from Olathe, KS. That would lead us to the Half Moon Pass trailhead where our hiking would begin. We made pretty good time on the drive, Dave and Eliza (my wife) slept for a LOT of it but I was good with my 5 hr energy and my ipod jamming. We stopped in Dillon for lunch at the Dam Brewery. Turnoff was easy to find and road was long and not too bumpy, passenger car would have made it. Saw lots of the trees cut due to the beetle problem. Anyway we were at the trailhead at 2pm, having driven for almost 12 hours, and were ready to tackle our first obstacle, the 3 mile hike over Half Moon Pass down to find a good campsite at East Cross Creek.
Trailhead elevation was 10,320ft and to get to the top of the Half Moon Pass we need to get to 11,650. So quite the elevation gain in 1.5 miles and we felt every step of it with our heavy packs. This whole hike seemed like it was either going up or down. We pushed through and were very happy to begin the decent into East Cross Creek, but knowing we'd have to pack out the same way the next day. While dropping elevation and skirting around Notch Mountain, we were able to finally lay our eyes on our objective, Mt of the Holy Cross. It was partially covered by a cloud at the summit, but was still amazing looking.
We got our only rain of the whole trip for about 20 minutes on the hike down, just a drizzle. Got down to the creek in about 3 hours (we did come from Kansas) and were happy to get the tent set up, break out the stove, and fill all of our water bottles up with my new water filter. We were a stones throw from the creek so that was nice.
We made our Backpackers Pantry meals that we brought and along with the advice of Pat Cale added a 6 oz package of additional chicken to each meal. They were really good and I think we've found our new camping meals. We had the Jamaican Jerk Chicken with rice and Santa Fe rice and beans. So after eating and prepping our bags for the next day we got ready to hit the sack, planning for a 4 am wakeup call.
Awoke to the alarm at 4:00 and shook off the sleep. We got the stove on and heated up some of the soy milk Eliza brought and each had packets of oatmeal. Cliff bars, sandwiches, a few goos, water, and raingear all packed we were ready to start off onto the still dark trail with our headlamps. Dave and I had scouted the trail before and had no problems hiking up, up, up through the trees.
We ran into about 16 CFI workers stretching out and getting ready to work on the trail. We were all really impressed with the work they have done both building steps and clearly marking the trial up the ridge with what looked like yellow and orange marlin lures.
We cleared the trees and groaned as we stared at the first of 6 or seven cairns that we would have to bolder between while still gaining elevation. The summit is only 1.6 miles away from tree line (11,700ft) but its quite the uphill battle. We fought hard, took breaks, tried to keep hydrated and eat. It was a very long slog.
Eliza started to feel the elevation and turns out she needed some fuel fast. She wanted us to go ahead and continue but leave her at about 13,700 just above the Angelica Coulior. I left my bag with her, got her a snickers, grabbed my water bottle and told Dave we'd push to the summit and get back down quickly. To my surprise Eliza caught back up to us just below the summit. The Snickers had worked its magic and she found the energy to push on. Really impressed with her for that. We all summitted together at about 9:15 and were relieved to be able to say we were only going downhill now.
The summit was cold due to a poorly timed cloud and Eliza's and my jackets were back with my pack on the side of the mountain. We took in all the great views, got the mandatory summit shots and all quickly decided to get the heck off this mountain
Heading down was pretty grueling on the hips, knees, quads, and ankles. Like I said, lots of bouldering.
Passed several groups on the way down, a fellow Ironman Kansas guy, a guy from Shawnee wearing leathers having done the Halo Ridge route, another guy from Overland Park and his buddy, Ironman's girlfriend (way behind him), a mom and her 3 kids, and another younger guy with what looked to be his mom just getting to the start of the ridge. When we passed them she said "oh my god" after seeing the rest of the route.
We got back down to camp pretty quickly, spent about 30 minutes packing back up and were faced with the slog of all slogs gaining the elevation we were so happy to lose the day before. Just a brutal end of a day that had us hiking our asses off with heavy packs.
We went to a mustache place in Minturn and devoured our meals. The jalapeno and pepperoni pizza Dave and I split would come back to haunt us. Eliza would decide in the morning if she'd be able to make a go at Greys/Torreys. (Part 2)
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