Lee Canyon to Charleston Peak Date Climbed: Sep 28, 2010
Did a solo scramble up the gully from Lee Canyon. This route has so much variety along the way, which kept it interesting. There is the ski slope slog, a short dirt road, a bushwhack upstream around deadfalls of evergreens from upslope (which made great bridges over less easy terrain), the loose rocky gully to the col on the ridge above, then the well-maintained trail to the summit of Charleston (if I didn't get such a late start, I would have used the Devil's Thumb Shortcut instead).
The main hazards were the ubiquitous long-spiked thistles, standing waist high or so, and at higher elevations (throughout the gully) a small brownish alpine shrub with thorny stems. I found it easy to avoid both of these. I made every effort to step only on rocks and spare the fragile alpine plants along the off-trail section, but when I had to step on something, I went after small thistles since they're invasive and pushing out the natives.
The only section that felt truly unsafe was the top of the gully on the descent. At its steepest point I got stuck in loose scree a couple of times and skidded with less control than I like. But after that, it the angle decreased and there were usually solid rock hand and foot holds on one side or the other of the gully, making for a reliable and fun scramble.
It was six and a half hours from start to finish with many stops for pictures and a short summit picnic. What a fun alternative to another long trail hike, thanks redsplashman23 for sharing this one.
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