Fear and Redemption - Terror BM and Priest Mountains, Grand Mesa/Delta County
Terror BM, 10,935'
Chalk Mtn Quad
Grand Mesa N.F.
Total time: We started hiking Terror at 8:30 am, and after driving over to Priest, etc., finished hiking at 5:30pm (9 hours total).
Stats: 8.1 miles on the bike, 4.6 on foot, 2250' gain
Terror BM lies on the east side of the Leroux Creek area of Grand Mesa N.F. This little island of peaks contains others in the area that are very isolated, and this road is the only car access to the basin: 11063, 11010, 11106, Priest Mtn, Mt. Hatten, Crater Peak, Mt. Darline, Terror BM, Green Mtn, Doughty Mtn, and 10245 all lie around this basin.
From Hotchkiss, we drove up the Leroux Creek access to 1F road, which we drove in just a half mile before we parked and got the mountain bikes off. We planned on getting this one Beau style (bike and hike).
We rode up the 1F road to 733 road (UN10245 access), which we took NE to Terror Reservoir.
From there, we continued up towards Rex Reservoir. We ditched the bikes in a horrible storm of mosquitoes (even though we had repellent on). Changed shoes, and off we went. Turned out we got rid of the bikes right on time - horrible marshes, mud, and steep rocky slopes would have forced us to walk anyway. From Rex reservoir, we started heading almost due east to the ridge, which narrowed dramatically. It was a dirt knife-edge, which I haven't seen before. Trees and shrubs held it together, and our first views of Terror appeared in the low clouds.
We walked up the ridge, and it began to steepen significantly and narrowed up again, this time rocks.
We did the ridge scramble, and it got seriously fun - 3rd class fun on basalt. Up to the false summit, then off to the true summit. Found the register and the survey staff, and also some huge holes - I suspect this peak faulted heavily when the last earthquakes went through.
Amazing stuff. Back down the ridge we went, and back down to the reservoir, down to our bikes and through the mosquitoes. We started riding back down, having a good time, and then shortly after riding some fun rocks and a log, it started raining, followed by some close thunder and lightning. We sped up. The clay soils, however, began sticking to the rain (or vice versa), and we began throwing mud like a Monster Truck Rally. Mud began accumulating in my fork and rear triangle. Uh-oh. Then the hail and some seriously heavy rain came:
Shortly after this, something bad happened to the rear derailleur, and it broke off. Sweet. The mud got so bad we had to use our bikes and our feet to act as tripods to stabilize ourselves and not fall down. We got back to the truck just in time for the rain to stop. Great! Had we waited it out for an hour, the trails would have been rideable and we wouldn't be wet. I'm not sure I could take the mosquitoes for an hour, however, so hard to say which choice was best.
Priest Mtn, 10,982 spot, 10991 interpolated summit.
6 miles RT, 1225' gain
After regrouping, we headed back up the road to the turnoff for the Reynolds ATV trail, which heads up to Reynolds Reservoir. We had envisioned riding our bikes up this to point as well and making an easy escape (which would have worked really well - this trail would actually be a really nice ride). But with a broken bike covered with mud, that was out. We hiked NW up the trail, the followed a camp-trail north to Priest's west ridge. Our goal was to ascend the least steep slopes, which also nicely coincided with no cover (re: deadfall). This turned out to be a nice slope with flowers and dirt and grasses and eventually boulders. We pushed on through the mosquitoes to the bare summit and spot elevation. While this is/was the summit, the central closed contour looked significantly higher, but is completely obscured by trees. We headed south to collect all three closed contours, just to be sure. We hit the middle one, which has a live tree literally protruding at the HP, surrounded by deadfall. No register here, either. Off south, we hit the southernmost closed countour HP. Hard to tell if it was higher or lower than the center - it appeared and "felt" lower, and GPS said is was within a couple of feet either way. Instead of returning the same way, we decided to head SSW to the track, and thus began our descent into hell. The bugs got worse, and the deadfall was as bad as we had guessed - terrible. Still navigable, we just continued left and down, and it went quickly and without any mishaps.
We returned to the car tired, but decently satisfied, and covered with mosquito bites.