| Summer 14er season has begun
Technically, it's not Summer until Tuesday (6/21). And Mother Nature may have something to say about it yet. She did a little on Saturday and definitely on Monday (6/20).
Started our at Denny Creek TH at 6am solo, with two other pairs starting just before me. A nice cool (~36F) Summer morning. Trail was very clear for the first mile plus. It should be a shorts and tee-shirt day!!
Lower Denny Creek trail
First challenge of the day is the crossing of Denny Creek (not the Delaney Creek cross further up). The water is running a little high at the regular crossing and you have to use a number of logs across the creek. Just 10 ft up from the regular trail. Picture taken on the descent.
Denny Creek crossing
All the way to 11,500 the trail is most Summer like, with minor water, ice, snow and mud. The log bridge over Delayer Creek is OK and not awash.
After you get up the ridge and start to head SE into the trees from 11,500 to 11,700 there is a lot more snow. It's mostly compacted and lots of steps or kick-steps. There are some "pre-built" post holes. You don't need snow-shoes and I did not use the micro-spikes I brought. You could use them here or on the snow-field at 12,800-13,200. You mostly can get by with hiking boots and gaiters. Of course there were the few with shorts, tee-shirts and trail runners - more later. The trail can be found by looking for the established trail between the snow patches and the foot prints in the snow. The new trail section is in this area and the old section in not completely closed off yet. So there is some confusion here. Two of the people ahead of me got lost here. The CFI crew are working it (more later) and will have it resolved when the snow clears.
A little snow challenge at 11,500 in the trees
Pre-Post-holed for your convenience
On the snow-field on the SW slope (12,800 - 13,200), just below the steep climb, it's best to stay to the left (west) for as long as possible, but you have to cross it as some stage. It you are up there early it's solid and easy to walk on. When it's a little soft later in the morning/afternoon, you may post-hole near rocks or at the edges.
Snow Field from above
Up on the steep slope before the final ridge to the peak it got very windy and cold. By the time I got to the peak, four others had arrived. It was below 30, wind 15-20mph plus gusts. Making for a wind chill in the high teens!! But we had a Summer hiker - only shorts, hoody and trail hikers. No gloves/hat. His hands were a white to blue color. Did give him a pair of gloves for a while. As the four others bailed from the top, we had a little snow and graupel. The Summer hiking season is now official.
No snow on the south side of the ridge to the peak from either side of the peak and no snow on the peak. Lots of snow still out there on the 14er family in the area.
Peaks to the South (Princeton on the Left edge)
On the descent, a shot to the south. No the lens is not foggy. That is a light snow and graupel.
Snow, graupel shower
Back down the trail at about 11,500 there is lots of serious work on the trail, with serious tools.
Serious trail tools
This is the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) crew working the trail, for your convenience. Most are volunteers. There were starting work at about 7am. If you can volunteer you should. If you can't swing a pick, perhaps you can donate ( http://www.14ers.com/cfi.php ). But, at least say Thank You, when you pass them on the trail. They make the 14er experience great for all of us.
And back at the Trail Head, it is in the high 60s. The Forest Service at the TH preparing to bring up material for erosion control. All for your safely and convenience.
Forest Service getting read for erosion control
Welcome to hiking in Colorado, with Sunshine, Snow, a 40 degree temperature swing, sweating, fear of frost-bite and a couple of changes in clothing layers throughout the day. Be prepared for all conditions!!!
The Summer 14er Hiking season has begun. Enjoy your hiking and see you on a peak.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):