From Clohesy Lake TH
July 2, 2007
I had the week off for the Fourth of July holiday and I wanted to get back to the Sawatch Range and finish things up so to speak. I made ready all my gear and loaded-up my truck for the 3 hour plus drive from Louisville.
Since I wanted to get my camp setup before dark I got on the road about 3:00PM heading out the much familiar route 285 for Buena Vista. The traffic was fairly light and I got to route 24, took a right through Buena Vista and then on to County Rd 390 where I turned left on this excellent dirt road for about 10 miles where I turned left to the deserted town of Rockdale. Along the way I saw a few people camping along Clear Creek down in the trees with great access from the county road.
Rockdale is composed of 5 small, abandoned cabins that have posted signs stating that they’re owned by the US Gov’t., they’re pretty well boarded-up but otherwise seem in fair shape. I put it into 4-wheel drive as the dirt road goes left at the last cabin and then proceeds right through the creek, over a little rise and then again through the creek and onto a small, rugged, dusty dirt road that climbs as a single lane for about 2 miles or so through the forest ‘til you come to a clearing with a sign. I made camp here in the back of my truck and started a fire in an existing fire pit and had some dinner before turning in for the night under bright stars.
I had set my watch for 4:00AM, made a short breakfast of instant coffee and oatmeal, drank a quart of Gatorade donned my headlamp and started-up the road/trail at 5:10AM under clear skies with a 2/3 moon above. I passed around a gate and after about a ½ mile I came to where the trail bears left and over a small hill where I could now see Clohesy Lake to the right. The trails become a bit scrambled here but I kept left and upward until I was just to the end of the lake where a light trail turns-off at a 90° angle and climbs up to the left at a single cairn. I packed-away my headlamp, checked my 14er.com printout and started up into the light forest. It is most important to turn here or I would have missed the trail to Missouri Mt all together.
The trail now climbs and winds through a light forest with some downed trees along the way and I had to keep a sharp eye for the trail as it doesn’t appear to be all that well traveled. Before long I was nearing tree line with a rushing creek to the right, the small trail follows the creek for a little bit and then breaks up and to the left above tree line and out onto an open tundra of sorts. Here the trail levels some and meanders up to a large, very green meadow with some low-lying willows and the summit can now be seen high up right in the center. The trail now disappears and climbing up the steep, green, grassy slope to gain the ridge just left of the rocks became my next immediate task. Higher up and to my left was a herd of about 10 deer that saw me before I saw them as they climbed away and over the grassy slope.
The wildflowers were spectacular all through-out the grassy slope and the sun was now making its way higher in the sky and things were getting rather warm. I zigged-and-zagged my way higher up the ever steep grassy slope until I finally reached the ridge; turning right as I made my way up and onto the now rocky ridge. The trail now comes in and out of view as I just kept trying to go higher up to a point directly ahead by scrambling over the rocks. Once I reached the point I could then see a person on the summit and saw that I still had a bit of work to do.
The trail becomes a bit more defined and follows along just right of the ridge crossing some snow in places and actually losing a little altitude as I clambered along the final 200 yards on all fours in some spots. One last dip in the trail as it hugs a small cliff and then I could see a guy and his two dogs above on the summit as I scaled the last pitch and made the summit at 8:10AM.
The guys name was Dave (age 47 from Monument, CO) and he and his dogs had been up there nearly an hour before I showed. They had come up from Missouri Gulch on the opposite side as me where they had camped and enjoyed their ascent coming in from the east. The views were sensational and Dave pointed out many peaks to me that I wasn’t familiar with as he stated that he had climbed all the 14’ers and was now doing them all again. I told him I was still making my way around for the first and probably only time. Dave soon began his descent back down and I then had the summit to myself for a few minutes as I took some photos, had a bite to eat and drink, and rested for a total of about 20 mins. I signed the summit log and started back down.
The day was brilliant and the temperature was rising as I got back to the grassy ridge section. Here I removed my leggings and lathered-up with the sunscreen as the way down proved nearly as difficult as the way up through the grassy slope. I again saw the deer now scattering down below me and into the willows where they disappeared somewhere near the creek. I was relived to get back down to where it leveled-out some and the going got much easier as a bit of breeze from the west cooled things down a little. I picked up the trail again and made my way to the creek where I dipped my hat into the cold water and placed it back on my head for some instant relief, way nice. Other than Dave at the summit, I did not see another soul the entire way up and back on this trail.
The shade from the trees helped a lot going back down through the small, dusty trail and back along the lake where I could see a long building that had been abandoned for some time. Apparently, this had been a fish hatchery years before and it was pretty neat to see right along the lake way up here. I was soon back down the road and through the gate back to my truck at 10:56AM. My 28th 14’er and another beautiful morning in the Colorado high country………..sweet!!