From the mine near Four Mile Creek
Sunday July 3, 2005
I awoke rather late at 5:45AM and was on the road to Fairplay via route 285 at 6:15. The traffic was pretty light and I made good time with perfect weather and clear skies all around. I turned right on CR 18 just outside of Fairplay and drove up a good dirt road through a very beautiful valley with lots of great camping sites and beaver ponds all along on the left side. I drove about 10 miles or so and the road was becoming more rutted and climbed up past a few parking areas and then on to where a gate blocked the way at an old mine.
I backed down a ways from the gate and parked with several other cars in a small lot. I got my pack ready and was on my way at 8:02. I hiked up the road a short ways and noticed a group of people heading up a thin trail leading to the right before reaching the mine. The trail winded up through a small notch where it opened on two separate snow fields where I was able to walk right across the snow as I passed four people here and proceeded to where two old steel cables lay on the ground.
Although the trail is thin it clearly went directly up between the two steel cables for a few hundred yards straight up through a very green area with many beautiful wildflowers in bloom. I continued up to where the trail then meets up with the main trail that’s much wider and levels-out where it then forks with the wider trail heading to the left and a smaller trail to the right………..I chose the trail to the right as it had far less people; I would soon see why.
The trail climbed quickly up a series of short switchbacks and then I found myself staring straight up a dirt, scree gully, very steep and not a level spot to be found. Up ahead I spotted two people struggling up the steep gully and stopping often to rest, I was soon up to where they were and passed them as I proceeded on all fours “clawing” my way up. I found a spot to stop and rest a moment and I looked back down and to my right I could now see the main trail heading up to a saddle with lots of people going that way. The way I was going had only the two people I had passed and not one other person.
Anyway………this steep trough leads directly to the summit ridge above and by-passed the saddle all together. Thus, this is without-a-doubt the most direct route to the summit, but far more strenuous and I was glad to reach the ridge where I could stand on fairly level ground and take a little rest. I then proceeded up the summit ridge where it climbs up to a small stonewall shelter, from here I could now see the actual summit across the way where the trail bears to the left as it climbs up along the ridge. I finished this last section in short time and reached the summit at 9:20.
At the summit there were 5 or 6 people and another larger stonewall shelter. I rested for a bit and when I went to use my camera I found that the batteries were “kaput” and that I had not packed extras……….suck!! I enjoyed the many views anyway and soaked-in the gorgeous weather on this fine day. I stayed about 18 mins then started back down as lots of people were now starting to arrive.
On the way down I stayed clear of the gully and proceeded on the main trail to the saddle I then found an excellent spot to glissade down a steep snow field that lead to the trail down below; way fun, and I saved a lot of time in the process, and cooled-off a bit on this warm day. I hiked the main trail until I came to the steel cables and then I split away and went back to my truck the way I had come. I got back to the parking lot at 10:40. My 13th 14’er on this fine day. Sweet!!