Two weeks before I had hiked up to Mary’s Lake up over the Moffat Tunnel, this is 5 miles each way and I felt I was now ready to pursue my first alpine summit of a 13’er. I had spoken to many people who had done Mt Audubon; as a spur-of-the-moment I decided to drive up early enough to get a decent parking spot at the trailhead at Mitchell Lake.
I started up the trail at 7:50AM and was very impressed with the amount of wildlife and wildflowers right from the parking lot and all through the forested trail as I climbed rapidly up several switchbacks. Birds, chipmunks, ground squirrels, and even a feisty ptarmigan showed themselves and were clearly used to seeing people as they seemed to be checking me out for a handout. The sun was now high in the sky and the weather was absolutely perfect, just a slight breeze from the west and scattered clouds over the mountain tops.
I hiked up through the forest on a trail that was a bit muddy due to previous rains from the day & night before, as the rising sun warmed things it was getting a bit muggy and just a little buggy as well. I kept moving and swatted away a few mosquitoes along the way as I climbed higher and made my way to tree line. Here I turned left at the (Beaver Creek straight) sign and continued up into huge tundra with an enormous snow field.
The trail skirts to the right side of the snow field and is visible all the way up to where it turns left onto the summit ridge. This area was absolutely beautiful; lots and lots of wildflowers and green grasses as it was clear that this area had received plenty of rain recently. There were also several marmots as I reached the rocky summit ridge, were I stopped for a brief rest as I took a bit of a sidetrack to look over the right edge and way down below the other side; breath-taking views and the scattered clouds were now right at eye level.
I now began the final ascent up the very rocky summit ridge where the trail was not nearly as defined and I actually followed a young lady as she seemed to know exactly where she was going. The rocky ridge was quite a bit steeper but was fairly short and I soon reached the summit at 9:30, there were four people there and we all exchanged greetings to one another and obliged each other with photos with each others cameras. It turned-out that I actually knew one guy on top from work a couple years back……..small world.
The views were spectacular and this being my first alpine summit I found myself gawking in awe of the scenery from way up here in all directions. Although I didn’t really know what peaks I was looking at, Longs Peak with its unmistakable flat top was most prominent to the north; Lake Granby was visible to the west, Lefthand Res & Brainard Lake to the east, and the jagged peaks along the divide to the south. I took many photos and thoroughly enjoyed myself as I rested, grab a bite to eat & drink and chatted with the small group of people while laying-out in the warm sun. I stayed 20 mins and then started back down.
There were now dozens of people visible on the trail through the tundra and they were heading towards the summit so I had picked a perfect time to leave. I took my time going down and took several more photos along the way; I got back to my truck at 11:30. My first alpine summit and a memorable experience on this beautiful day. Way sweet!!