I camped at the Molas Trailhead Saturday night. I started hiking down the Animas Trail at 2:30 am. My Princeton Tec Scout LED Headlamp was not bright enough to move very quickly down the trail. I crossed the Animas River on the footbridge, reached the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and began looking for the Elk Creek Trail. I missed it, but folllowed a faint trail that intersected it. I followed the Elk Creek Trail to the Beaver Pond and followed a faint trail passed some campsites then lost it. I bushwhacked down to Elk Creek, crossed it, then bushwacked up to the Vestal Creek Trail. I followed the Vestal Creek Trail to the base of Arrow Peak. I crossed Vestal Creek and a couple attempting Vestal Peak and climbed Arrow Peak's northeast face reaching the summit at 8:48. The summit provided a good view of the Needle Mountains.
I descended Arrow Peak's northeast face and saw Colorado's possibly highest tree at about 13,750 feet on Arrow's north ridge. I climbed up to the Vestal Peak-Arrow Peak saddle and continued up Vestal Peak's south face. Just below the summit, I passed the couple I saw earlier, stopping to answer their questions about Arrow Peak's northeast face route. I got to the summit at 11:20. I saw a party of 3 on the summit.
Colorado's Highest Tree?
I descended Vestal Peak's south face and traversed to the Vestal Peak-West Trinity saddle. I continued up West Trinity's west ridge and noticed Barry, one of the people on Vestal's summit, was following me. The west ridge provided some good scrambling and I got to the summit at 1:17 pm. We hung out at the summit a while before parting ways.
I descended West Trinity's east ridge towards the West Trinity-Trinity Peak saddle and began looking for the ledge required to bypass the "Fourth Trinity". I descended southeast then ascended northeast and finally found it. Shortly after finding it, the ledge system ended. I spent a lot of time looking for it, before realizing it was time to ascend to the 4th class chimney. I found the chimney, climbed it and climbed to the summit arriving at 2:52.
West Trinity from Trinity Peak
I descended Trinity Peak's east gully and ascended East Trinity's west gully to East Trinity's south ridge. There was some exposed third class on the ridge. I got to the summit at 3:46. I descended East Trinity's east ridge to East Trinity-Peak Three saddle, then continued west avoiding as much snow as possible. I stopped and talked with many people on the way out just below treeline in Vestal Creek. The Animas Trail was no fun on the return.