From Denny Creek TH
Saturday September 17, 2005
I awoke at 3:30AM and was on the road to Buena Vista via route 285 at 4:30. The full moon was absolutely spectacular and as it went down in the west it became ever larger before dipping below the peaks along the horizon as I came into South Park; down Kenosha Pass. With the sun now breaking the darkness to the east and the moon settling in the west it was an unusual sight only to be seen during these early morning moments; really nice.
I reached the Denny Creek trailhead parking lot at 7:00 with only five cars there, two other cars arrived about the same time I did so I figured I’d better get going and was on the trail by 7:10 with the sun now touching the uppermost peaks as I looked to the west.
The trail starts out very wide and resembles a road somewhat as I climbed gradually up into this beautiful forest with many aspen & spruce trees with some of the aspen starting to turn making for a colorful blend of deep and light greens, yellow, gold, and some red and orange. The trail winds around, up & down, and progresses along and crosses more than one creek as it remains rather wide until I took a right turn at the (Browns Pass, Hartenstein Lake straight sign) and then the trail becomes much narrower as it splits away into the forest.
I hiked along a very well traveled trail which continued through the forest and climbed closer to tree line here I smelled smoke and soon came upon the campfire of two guys with a nice tent site next to a creek. The trail then climbs a series of switchbacks and then opens in several different spots to reveal scenic vistas of the terrain below as I climbed around the last opening going to the left as the trail now opens above tree line. The sun now peeked out to where I was right over the top of Mt Yale standing directly in front of me, the wind too started to blow at the same time from out of the west.
The trail then starts up a large grassy mound and then gives way to large tundra with many large boulders; I climbed to where the trail becomes more of a loose scree for a short distance and then begins to climb much more steeply on some short switchbacks. Here I could now see people making their way across the summit ridge and on to the summit, and also three people nearing the saddle right above me just before the summit ridge to the right. The wind was now blowing consistently with an occasional strong gust as I held onto my hat more than once; the wind was at my back heading up to the saddle and actually pushed me along as I went.
Upon reaching the saddle the wind about knocked me down as I stopped to add an outer most layer, fleece cap, and gloves to prepare for my final approach to the summit across the ridge. Here three people were coming back from the summit and battling the wind as I was and now I saw which way to go as the trail becomes rather ambiguous and I clutched the giant rocks as I went along with the wind now pushing hard from my right as I worked along the right side of the ridge. Staying to the right and slightly below the ridge I continued towards the summit following the cairns until I came to a spot below a rock outcropping where the trail crosses over to the left side of the ridge and a respite from the now relentless wind, most kind.
As I made my way up onto the summit at 9:55 the wind actually eased-up for a few minutes as I was greeted by a lone occupant (guy) and we took photos with each other cameras of one another and he stated that the other two people that were ahead of him had only stayed for a brief moment before retreating back down because of the strong winds. I took several photos and was very impressed with the views from this summit, many other 14’ers can be seen from this fine vantage and although windy, the weather was perfectly clear in all directions. Gorgeous scenery as far as I could see all around, and looking back down to the trail below there were now many others on their way up. The strong winds now returned and I soon had the summit to myself; I rested, had a bite to eat, drank some water, and then exited as I had come as the wind was now stronger than ever. I left the summit at 10:10.
I hiked all the way back to tree line before I even stopped as the wind was now in my face and the trees gave immediate relief from the wind and I now removed a layer and rested. Many other people were heading the opposite way and some took cover from the wind right at tree line before moving on into the open ground above, smart move.
I now took my time and a few photos as I headed back down through the forest as I dawdled somewhat and totally enjoyed this beautiful forest with its vistas, creeks, changing leaves, and ideal trail with many places to camp if you so desired. I only saw a few more people as I made my way back to the trailhead at 12:28PM. My 21st 14’er……….sweet!!