Another Delta County Ranked Peak - DONE.
UN 8343 - "Hubbard Creek Peak".
Elevation : 8,343'
CO Peaks Rank : 3421
Counties : Delta
Quad : Bowie
Coords : 38.9801°N, 107.5178°W
Rise : 363'
Partner-in-Bashing: Greg Hakes
So this peak has been on my "to-do" list for quite a while, but we kept putting it off, hoping to discover an easier access or a shorter hike. Alas, on our recon on Thursday, we found locked gates (public road, but the coal mine owns/leases both sides of the road), and settled on the one good access we found, Hubbard Creek. On maps, it is shown as a road going through to the north side of this little narrow valley. Maybe a long time ago, it did. Since then, it has collapsed. Mudslides, too frequent to count, have collapsed the road to the point that it is navigable only on foot. Nice stretches of the road still exist, but it is exclusively a footpath (also not advisable for horses, pack animals, or bikes).
The end of the road is blocked by large boulders, and the single track starts there. Of interest, this drainage was the ascent route of the Escalante/Dominguez party back in 1776 when they were going up on top of the Grand Mesa to meet with the Utes and hopefully secure another guide to get to California.
When you start up the trail, the peak and its sidehills dominate your view.
It is not encouraging. I know another person ascended one of these ridges by the Blue Ribbon Mine and descended a different ridge. The scrub oak, while gorgeous in the fall, is a formidable foe. We decided to ascend up to meet up with Lone Pine Creek and ascend that "road" to the gentle NNW shoulder of 8343. The hike in is rather pleasant, actually. Nice scenery, and since the road is no longer in use, it is extremely isolated. The footprints of literally hundreds of deer and elk have made the path rather pleasant for walking.
When we got to the other "road", we found ... nothing. There is nothing left at all, except steep sides and erosion. Well, here we go. Thankfully, the creek is low - not sure it would be a fun crossing with high water.
We busted up and through the oak and aspen and wild rose and whatever else, up steep, frozen slopes. No falling. This part wasn't particularly pleasant.
Above that, we followed game trails as much as we could, and sometimes, they even went along the ridge in a nice area.
The forest opens up some, or at least it shortens so you can see the summit area and look around to the surrounding peaks, some in Delta and some in Gunnison counties.
After some more desperate bashing, the summit snuck up on us. At least 6 elk had made beds there in the last few nights.
From the summit, we followed our line back to the steep gully we had eyed on the way up. Deciding it couldn't be much worse than what we had already done, we descended, hoping for the best.
Things never really got "interesting", but a few branches won the battle - one went up my nose and punctured my sinus, two went in my ear and scratched me pretty good, and Dad had a few scratches on his face. Almost worth wearing a balaclava!
The rock is total junk, and deteriorates easily in your hands. It is not good nor safe for scrambling or climbing. Animals, including bats and bushy-tailed wood rats, make their living in the pock-marked surfaces of the cliffs. We also found some evidence of scavenging, most likely by a bear. Several times we crossed parts of elk and deer that had been scavenged in the area, and we saw quite a bit of bear scat, both from rose hips from the plentiful wild roses and from gambel oak acorns (high in fats). Sooner than we thought, we plopped out back on the trail.
From there, it was a pleasant mile back to the truck, and another one down. Only 4 ranked Delta county peaks to go, but I plan on getting several more of the USGS named ones as well.