Tabor Creek TrailI love Colorado’s 14ers on summer weekends. So many hikers and climbers flock to those summit ridges that it leaves so many beautiful areas for hiking and climbing void of people. That certainly was the case on this Sunday hike on Tabor Creek Trail. In our eight hours on the trail we ran into four people total, all at Tabor Lake.
In all seriousness, I’m sure the remoteness of the trailhead along with the 4.1 mile drive down the rock and rut infested Lincoln Creek Road is more the reason for the solitude. Of course, the fact that there are no 14ers directly accessible from the trailhead does help. Why make that horrible drive down Lincoln Creek Road if all there is to see is gorgeous scenery, and a bunch of lowly 13ers to shoot for?
The hike up Tabor Creek Trail would be our first full day on the trail for our week in Colorado. This year there were four of us on the trip, with my son Andrew joining me again, his friend Connell, and my friend Rob coming back as well. Our flatlander lungs arrived in Colorado on Saturday afternoon. We warmed up our lungs and legs with a nice leg stretcher near Independence Pass (Thanks Nader!) and were ready for a longer day on Sunday. Since we camped Saturday night at the Lost Man Campground just west of Independence Pass I planned on hitting Tabor Creek Trail since the trailhead is off of Lincoln Creek Road, which is just a few miles further west from Lost Man on Hwy 82. The Tabor Creek Trail was a perfect way for us to start our 2010 Colorado trip. The trail offered a lot of opportunities, with the chance to hike to beautiful Tabor Lake, a hike to the saddle between West Truro and Point 13,061, and depending on how we felt once we hit the saddle a chance to bag a 13er.
Anyone Seen Tabor Lake?The primary drawing card for the day was to get to Tabor Lake and this was the first order of business. I had learned about the lake in this Trip Report of Aaron Johnson's and figured that getting to the lake would make for a great dayhike. Looking at the topo map it was obvious that the lake was off the main trail but I didn’t know if there was a spur trail leading to the lake or not. Apparently the primary landmark for identifying the route was to find a waterfall below the lake. As we made our way up Tabor Creek Trail we kept looking up to our right trying to find the waterfall and what looked like a path to the lake. Nothing! We did a little off trail scrambling up some small cliffs looking for the lake and still we had no luck. I started thinking that maybe the lake had dried up. We couldn’t find the waterfall so maybe it was so late in the summer that there was no snowmelt to feed the lake and falls? Regardless of not finding the lake, the scenery was beautiful and no one else was on the trail. Solitude and scenery! Not a bad way to spend our first full day in Colorado.
We ended up getting too far up the trail and the saddle kept getting closer and closer and we started getting better views of West Truro Peak.
We made it to the saddle and took in the views. I was stunned with the scenery to the south. There was a beautiful cirque of mountains and the colors were so much different than what I normally expect in the Sawatch. The mountains had more of an Elk Range feel. For a while I thought I was near “Electric Pass Peak” in the Elks. The views were a beautiful and welcome surprise.
Point 13,061: Not ReallyAs we sat at the saddle resting and taking in the scenery I started looking up at our two obvious opportunities for a summit, West Truro Peak at 13,140 feet or Point 13,061. I had no beta on either option, so after studying the routes from afar we chose to head west up towards Point 13,061.
Initially there is an easy Class 2 scramble of a few hundred vertical feet and this initial climb is a lot of fun and the route finding was easy, with just a few cliffs to avoid. From the saddle, the top of this scramble looks like the summit, but it isn’t. At the top we were greeted with a beautiful Class 1 ridge walk to Point 13,061.
The views from the ridge were stunning. From where we were standing it looked like you could walk on gentle green ridges for miles and miles. With the weather we had we surely could have continued on, but we decided we had come far enough, so after about 30 minutes on the “summit” we turned around and headed for home.
After I got home from Colorado I took a closer look at the topo map and realized that we didn’t actually get to Point 13,061. There was still a very short ridge walk that we needed to make, but where we were standing looked like the highpoint, so we didn’t pull out the topo map to verify. I chuckle about it now, and for all I know we may have been above 13,000 feet, but in reality it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the views were beautiful from whatever point we were on.
Tabor Lake - FinallyMy son’s friend Connell met us back at the saddle. He had stayed behind in the valley just below the saddle on the way up, still adjusting to the altitude, with this being his first trip to Colorado. As we descended we kept trying to figure out where Tabor Lake was. We finally came to a spot where we thought it might be. Rob was pushing hard to go on one last explore but my son Andrew and Connell were ready to head back to the car. They were tired of dealing with all of our dead ends, so we parted ways and Rob and I went fishing for the lake. We did stumble across a few small lakes, which were not all that impressive, so I knew they couldn’t be Tabor. We were just about to give up when we saw a large cairn up ahead, and then another far below us. Finally, we were on the right track.
Unfortunately, Tabor Lake was several hundred vertical feet above us. In many spots the trail is very steep and scree infested which made the ascent challenging. We did finally make it to the lake and it was as beautiful as advertised. Up close the water was crystal clear, but looking across the lake the blue-green tint was stunning. And then there was the Tabor Mountain backdrop. Bring your wide angle lens!
It was at the lake that we finally saw other people for the first time that day as there were a couple of trout fishermen enjoying a day at the lake. I hiked around the lake to get pictures from the other side while Rob went off exploring up above the lake. By the time I got back he was at least a hundred feet up the slopes of Tabor Peak yelling down to me that we needed to try and summit. At this point I was satisfied with just getting to the lake, and since Andrew and Connell were waiting at the car for us, I didn’t think it was prudent to extend the day by another couple hours, so we headed down.
On the descent we were able to follow cairns down what at times became a very faint trail. Trying to follow the trail down, I could see why people have a hard time finding the lake. We weren’t too far below the lake when we found the waterfall that we were trying to identify earlier in the day. It was all but dried up, with just a slow trickle, so it was easy to see why we missed it. Finally, when we reached the valley floor, we saw the cairn marking the spur trail to the lake. The cairn is pretty large so I’m surprised we missed it earlier in the day. We were probably too busy looking up trying to find the lake and walked right by it!
On our initial descent from the lake we saw one other group of two hikers but that would be it for the day. Only four people in eight hours on the trail! Solitude and scenery! Not too shabby for a Sunday in Colorado.