From TH west of Bank Mine
July 3, 2007
I had hiked up Missouri Mt the day before as I had the week off for the Fourth of July holiday. After negotiating the rugged little road down from Clohesy Lake I ran back to Buena Vista for some food and more ice for the cooler before going back to County Rd 390 where I drove about 4 miles past Rockdale and on to the town site of Winfield.
Winfield is a small compound of about seven cabins that are often occupied during the summer months and many have flower pots outside and cars parked in there lots............certainly not a "ghost-town" this time of year. I turned left here onto a good dirt road over a bridge across Clear Creek and then bear'd right and up into the forest.
I put it into 4-wheel drive as the dirt road goes up and gets more rugged & dusty and climbs as a single lane along Clear Creek; not bad for about 2.2 miles or so through the forest until you come to a clearing with a sign posting the “Mt Huron” trailhead. I made camp here in the back of my truck and started a fire in an existing fire pit and made a nice dinner before turning in for the night before nightfall around 8:00PM. I was really pooped.
I set my watch for 4:00AM, made a short breakfast of instant coffee and oatmeal, drank a quart of Gatorade, donned my headlamp and started-up the trail at 5:10AM under clear skies with a 2/3 moon above.
The trail is excellent and climbs and winds through a heavy forest with some downed trees along the way at first. Soon the many switchbacks begin and I climbed steadily up through the forest with the sound of rushing water as I crossed a small log bridge along this well traveled trail and here I packed-away my headlamp. Before too long I was nearing tree line as the endless switchbacks climb ever higher above tree line and out onto an open very green meadow with some low-lying willows where the trail levels-out and meanders up to a small snow-melt pool that had a thin layer of ice still on it. From here the summit can now be seen high up to the right and the trail ahead in the center.
The wildflowers were amazing all through-out this grassy area and soon the slope stands directly ahead with some rock “stairways” and more switchbacks leading up much higher through some wet spots where the trail actually turns into somewhat of a little stream coming down. I continued up the many switchbacks and made my way higher up the steep grassy slope until I finally reached the ridge; turning right as I made my way up and onto the now rocky ridge. The trail is now all rock as it makes its way around an outcropping of stone and climbs higher up to where I thought I could see the summit; but sometimes I don't see so good and after a little more climbing there was still more work to do.
The trail seemed anti-climactic and the hike from the day before was beginning to show a bit as I wasn’t nearly as “fresh” this morning as I kept on climbing just to the right of the ridge where lots of snow had piled on the east side in places. I clambered up along the final 100 yards as the switchbacks took me finally up and onto an empty summit at 7:56AM. I was pretty well tired, and needed a good rest right about now.
I had the summit to myself and for a few minutes I simply sat and enjoyed the gorgeous beauty and serenity of this high perch on this clear morning. There was hardly a whisper of a breeze and in the silence it seemed as though all I could hear was my pounding heart. I soon was “back to normal” and took some photos (way many peaks), had a bite to eat and drink, and rested for a total of about 20 mins. I couldn’t find a summit log and looking back down the trail I could see three different groups of people heading up way down below. I started back down with the sun blazing high above.
The day was brilliant and the temperature was rising as I got back to the grassy section; here I removed my leggings and lathered-up with sunscreen, removed my boots briefly and made ready to negotiate back down through the countless switchbacks. I was glad to get back down to the small melt-pool where it leveled-out and noticed there was still some ice on the surface. I passed some people here and the going got much easier as a bit of a breeze from the west cooled things down some. I was soon back into the trees and the shade helped a lot going back down the dusty trail.
At the log bridge I stopped and dipped my hat into the rushing water and placed it back on my head to bring a deserved relief from the heat. I finished the last of the switchbacks and was soon back down to my truck at 10:38AM. Fashioned a bubble & fly on my fish pole and I caught & released a couple small brookies at the beaver pond where I camped. Nice!!
My 29th 14’er and another glorious morning in the Colorado mountains………..way sweet!!
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