A little running; a little family hiking
The weather for the weekend of July 15th and 16th looked too good to pass up, so daughter Trisha and I put together a plan, on fairly short notice, to climb Mt. Massive on the 15th. This would be my last Sawatch fourteener, which sounded like a welcome milestone. Granddaughter Amber couldn’t get the day off, but we dragged grandson Ted along. After overnighting with a friend in Buena Vista, we hit the road about 5 am MDT and got to the North Halfmoon Creek trailhead just after 6:30 and hit the trail at 6:40.
We had no trouble finding the cairn in the meadow which all the route descriptions say is easy to miss. Personally, I think it gets missed because people expect getting there to take longer; it actually isn’t very far up the trail. From there, we were impressed with the quality of the work which has been done on the very steep trail. It has good steps all the way, as well as good cairns. It was super easy to stay on-route.
Once above timberline, we enjoyed unbroken sunshine, and the views opened up dramatically, just as promised. I ran ahead to tag South Massive, and rejoined Trisha and Ted just as they reached the junction where the southwest slopes tops out the ridge and meets the trail coming up from the east side.
From there, the summit is only a short, and easy, hike away, over a couple of gentle ridge points. We got there a little before noon, and found only a handful of other people, a pleasant surprise. Shirt sleeves and shorts, and dynamite views; what a deal!
As my companions started down, I set off to the north to see how many other minor summits I could climb. So as not to keep them waiting too long for me, I gave myself a 45-minute time limit going out. This proved to be enough to clamber over Massive Green, where I found out how apt the name is: There’s an amazing profusion of wildflowers growing all over it! I only got near to North Massive, however. The obvious technical difficulty of it, as seen from the adjacent ridge point, meant that it was going to be a time-consuming adventure. With people waiting for me, and no way to communicate, I reluctantly decided to leave it, as well as Point 14,169 beyond, for another day.
When I got back to the summit, the others had a one-and-one-half hour head start on me and, although I managed a pretty decent running pace all the way back, this was a bit more than I could make up. It turns out that _they_ had managed a pretty good pace going down, too! I got back to the car, which was actually a few hundred yards below the real trailhead, just about 4 pm, in some very light sprinkles of rain. By that time, it was welcome, as the afternoon was sunny and hot.
All in all, a great day. I figure about 7 miles and 4,100 feet for the basic trip Trisha and Ted did, and about 10 miles and 5,100 feet for me. Those two other minor summits still call to me, but no matter how long it is until I can go back for them, at least “officially,” I can cross off all my Sawatch fourteeners. I'm severely tempted to go back solo, and run the whole ridge north to south, the first time I can find someone to drop me off and pick me up.
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