Peak(s):  PT 13,626  -  13,626 feet
PT 13,317  -  13,317 feet
PT 13,078  -  13,078 feet
Date Posted:  07/19/2016
Date Climbed:   07/13/2016
Author:  bergsteigen
 When wildflowers out number the talus  


Pt 13,626 Pt 13,317 Pt 13,078


Trailheads: Cottonwood Lake Campsite - roughly, Green Timber Gulch (upper TH)
Mileage: 15.56 ( ~13.56 on foot, ~3 on bike)
Elevation Gain: 5,888'
Partners: Solo

My first peak hike without skis... crap how do I do this again? Where to go, when to start, what should I bring? Have to switch backpacks and all the essentials. Dang, it's been awhile for this. I wanted something relatively easy and not too far away, since I had plans in the Gore Range the next day. But when you have 50% of the 13ers done, and 2 seasons of broken legs needing "easy and close to home peaks" to recover and rebuild strength, my store of easy ones are diminishing! It was never my plan to get all these done first. I wanted to have a spread across Colorado, not leaving tough and far away ones for last. But so it goes. Make do with what you got.

I've always wanted to do a bike traverse of 13ers. Drop a bike at the high trailhead, and then start from the lower one - leaving a fun quick downhill on the bike. I've had this trio of peaks all ready for this bike trip for 3-5 years now, just waiting for the opportunity, or lack thereof to go do. Knowing that Princeton is a talus nightmare, it can be difficult to motivate for what I thought would be a boring trip. But, I had few other options at this point. So let's make the best of it and try to have fun.

Being a Tuesday night, I figured there wouldn't be any trouble finding a campsite up here. Ha! Tons of campers, tourists or vacationers adorned many of the dispersed campsites along the way. Thankfully the area around the upper trailhead was open. Quick nights rest, and soon it was morning, when I hid the various parts of my bike in bushes out of sight. At least I hoped they would be out of sight. After having my ski skins stolen in Mayflower Gulch, my trust of fellow hikers/skiers has diminished.

The access to the road that Furthermore took down on his trek looked private, so I found a spot to park in a large dispersed campsite. Packed up my gear and forded the stream at a convenient spot, and put on my hiking boots once on dry ground. From there, I angled up to meet the road at a switchback higher up. Pretty easy hiking on the old abandoned road. Even a bit of trail after the old mining building too. But soon it was a simple bushwack up the ridge till I got a first view out of the trees of my surroundings.

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Old mining building

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Exiting the trees on the ridge

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Jagged ridge up to Princeton - never knew!


Once above treeline, the proliferation of flowers started. I got distracted and had to take photos, since I never see these mini sunflowers in such pristine shape! Usually they are pretty wind battered by the time I see them. Even a hungry honey bee busily collecting.

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Honey bee heaven

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Flower spotlight

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More ridge to go

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Ridge over to 13,626

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Looking up drainage at Gladstone Ridge and friends

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Glowing backlit flowers!


Once the flowers petered out a bit, I could once again refocus on hiking up the looooong ridge to the first peak of the day. Pretty easy talus hiking. Plenty of mini trails abound for this bicentennial. Guess the unnamed bi gets some love!

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The never ending ridge...

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Looking at the peaks to come


I take a much deserved long break on the summit. Looking through the summit register from 1992, it was a bit wet, so I let it air out for my stay on the summit. Got my first view of the Hayden Pass Fire, and with all the wind up high, it grew considerably during my stay on top. Eventually I had to get on with the ridge traverse. It would be a long one, but with the good weather and 0% chance of rain or storms, I did have all day to enjoy my first "hike".

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Antero

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Princeton

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Yale

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The Hayden Pass fire when I arrived...

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The fire as I was leaving the summit - high winds today

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Ridge back down

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Flowers in the talus


Once back on the lower part of the ridge, the flowers once again proliferated. So much distraction by all this beauty! It was tough to leave each patch of flowers. A few times I even had to sit down and just be. I took a couple videos because I was just mesmerized. I wanted to remember the feeling of being up here!

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Pt 13,317 awaits.

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Flower explosion, take 1 of many

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The cycle of life, create and destroy

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Looking back on 13,626

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Flower explosion with 13,317

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So many flowers on way to 13,317' - I'm so distracted

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Flower hippie chick decides to take selfie - I hate selfies, but so many flowers


After rounding the last ridge bump before 13,317', the flowers relented for a little while, so I could ascend the next peak at a decent pace. Though I did find a flower I had never seen before. Kind of looks like Einstein's hair!

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Getting closer to 13,317

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A new hut?!

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Looking back on hut

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Such a perfect flower

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What the heck is this???


Finally on the 2nd summit of the day, I felt pretty good. Looking at the ridge to come... at least all that talus will make for a 'quick hike' at this point!

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A view back from the summit of 13,317

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Route forward from 13,317

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Talus ridge - missing the flowers!


Nothing too exciting till after 13,078, though I was happy that the ridge traverse was just about over. The Hayden Pass Fire had exploded during the day to be much higher than Antero, The poor firefighters and locals. Hope they get that under control soon!

It was getting late, and I hadn't exactly finalized plans with my partner for the next day, so I was getting anxious to get down and back into cell range. Of course, more flowers on the descent to the pass, but only a trifling as compared to other sections of the ridge. I swear, I saw a quadrillion flowers today!

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Didn't expect to capture that fly with the flowers, but nifty!

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A look back on ridge from 13,078

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The Hayden Fire now looks like a thunderstorm... such a windy day


Quick and easy descent off the last peak down to the saddle. I was looking forward to having a nice established trail to go down. The first part was actually really nice, then it got nasty. Dirt bikes are allowed on the trail, and a few sections have become a torn up scree mess. But, at least the damage is mostly confined to the trail itself. Even with the scree, I make quick time down to my bike, which was thankfully still there! Re-assembled it and took a very quick ride back down to my truck. Probably should have worn a helmet, but I didn't exactly think of that until I was at the end of the day hiking.

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Route down from 13,078

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A bit of snow off the ridge, before the trail of crap

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Someone didn't like the mess the dirt bikes leave

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A peaceful scene


Not a bad first hike back! I like it when I am pleasantly surprised after having such low expectations!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40


 Comments or Questions
highcountryhiker
What the heck is this???
07/19/2016 22:15
It appears to be a Pasque flower after it is done blooming. Have seen many of these on a couple of peaks above timberline this year.


bergsteigen

Thanks
07/20/2016 15:01
highcountryhiker - Looking it up now, I see that it is. Quite a different seed stage than one might imagine from the flower.


rajz06

Thanks...
07/20/2016 21:13
...for the beta on another neat Sawatch loop! Would I be correct in assuming Princeton would only be a ridge walk away from Pt. 13,626?


bergsteigen

Princeton connect
07/21/2016 16:09
Photo #13 shows most of the talus ridge from Princeton. It looks like it goes, if not long and rocky.



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