Peak(s):  Lenawee Mtn  -  13,204 feet
"Southwest Lenawee"  -  13,180 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2020
Date Climbed:   08/17/2020
Author:  petal53run
 Moose on the Loose   

Moose on the Loose

As I was driving to the Lenawee TH on Peru Creek Road, I thought I came upon a deer, like a really big BIG deer. All I could see were legs and a brown tail. The animal was taller than my Tiguan. We traveled slowly together till it ran into the trees. At the Lenawee TH(10353)(pic1), 545am, as I was lacing up my boots, I heard something moaning (growling ?) but definitely grunting. I was the only one there. I tied the laces into knots, grabbed my stuff, clenched the key fob in my fist and bolted up the hill on the Lenawee trail(pic2) across the road from the parking lot. I forgot to lock the car but didn’t care at that point.

The flight response dimmed the steepness of the trail until I crossed the stream (pic3). That’s where my adrenaline surge power ran out. It’s also when I realized only mountain bike tracks were behind me on the trail. I regrouped, repacked, turned the knots into bows and thanked my lucky stars for not losing the key fob. After my heart stopped pounding and I could breathe normally, I knew everything was ok. Back to the steady climb through the forest at a more relaxed pace with more sensitive ears.

Recently, my climbs have started a little above treeline leading into the willows. So hiking through the forest was a nostalgic trip: the soft rustling leaves of the aspens (no yellow leaves yet) (pic4), the twisted roots in the trail(looks like dinosaur bones)(pic5), gray squirrels jumping through the trees overhead and the big BIG boulders(pic6) along this slope. Debris this size is from glacier activity. They were gouging through Colorado yesterday(1.8 mya) according to the geological time scale. Not active today but permanent snow/ice fields are lying around. St Mary’s Glacier can be seen while hiking to James Peak.

Back to the trail, which was well rutted to follow, hugs the mountain side. It offers a few hairpin turns and at the sharp right turn, for climbing over the rocks (pic7), graciously looks into the bowl and at the long exposed ridgeline. Returning to the trail, it’s a fairly flat section(pic8) framed by pine trees and walls of cracked sedimentary rocks. Then the landscape opens up to your first view of A-basin’s east wall and the Lenawees and a cairn(pic9). Also, I could hear people talking, which was rather strange since I saw no one. Bluebells (pic10), astors (pic11) and a wild rose(pic12) greeted me as I entered the willows(pic13) where the goal on the ridge taunts you. After rubbing elbows with them, where the greenish meadow bends steeply upward, you leave the trail to bushwhack up the slope toward Lenawee. However, it seems to move further away as you’re forced to walk slower. I saw mountain goat fur along the way(pic14). As the terrain becomes rockier, the scrambling is doable(pic15&16) on a faint path and I summited Lenawee(13190)(pic17). I not only saw the world on US6 and Arapahoe basin swirling below(pic18) but I waved to the people just yonder on the Arapahoe ski lift pad from where the voices had echoed. The saddle between the two peaks had a faint path. It looked worse than the actual scramble so climbing one chunky rock at a time was the method. Next, the peak of SLenawee (13180)(pic19).

For the descent, I aimed directly for the trail at treeline (pic20) by hiking on the grassy areas below the willows. And I had to do it. It was just me and my echo. Don’t worry, my yodeling came back to me. The elevation dipped but it was worth shortening the distance to crawl back up to treeline. The traction was good on the dry brittle grass and my ascent footprints were still fresh(pic21) on the trail. The smoke was barely noticeable going through the forest. When I returned to the car, everything was intact and quiet.

In sum, this is a pleasant, short duration hike that is reasonably close to Denver. Lenawee is a Class 1-2 trail that is basically a straight defined line with a few curves that travels through a giant rock garden. It’s not quite a thinking trail, even though the footing is solid because you have to watch for protruded rocks and roots. What you really have to watch out for is moose. They are the largest(7ft hoof to shoulder) and heaviest(800-1200pounds) member of the deer species. Deer wear white tails and moose have brown tails, as I saw that morning. When I turned west onto Montezuma road, it was a big BIG Hokey Smoke moment. A mother moose and her twin kids were eating willows along the side of the road (pic22&23&24&25). Bullwinkle J Moose was home napping in front of the blaring TV.

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Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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