In 2005, I climbed Mount Belford during a full moon hike with some friends and remember it being a tough hike. The sunrise at the end made it worth it in the end. Unfortunately, we decided not to make the trek over to Mount Oxford that morning in 2005. So six years later I decided to make the hike again over Mount Belford and then check Mount Oxford off my list as well.
I started my drive from Denver at 10 pm Thursday evening, and arrived at the Missouri Gulch trailhead at 12:30 am. Laid back the seat in my truck and tried getting a few hours of sleep. I woke up at 5:30 and set off down the trail. I forgot how steep the switchbacks were at the beginning, but not to worry the trail gets easier towards the top of the switchbacks.
Sunrise on the switchbacks
I was making good time up the trail, and thought I was going to be the first one to the summit that morning but then a person running up the trail passed me! I found out later that he is training for a 100 mile ultra marathon in Utah. So I didn't feel to slow. In this area there are a lot of places to camp, with plenty of water from the stream.
Ranger with Missouri Mountain in the background
Looking down the basin
Ranger and I started up the switchbacks towards Mount Belford after taking a left at the sign junction. Then soon reached the flat part at 13,900 ft. We made it to the top of Belford, which is made out of a yellowish rock. In the distance you can see Mount Oxford and Missouri Mountain.
On top of Belford looking at Mount Oxford
Once reaching the summit, and after snapping a few pictures. The ultra runner was making his way back to the summit of Belford after running the the top of Oxford. I wished him luck in his upcoming race and started towards Oxford. There was a lot of Watermelon snow still on the mountains, which was cool to see. I may have seen it before and not thought anything of it.
Mount Oxford after descending from Belford
I met a few other people coming down from Oxford that started from the trailhead at 4:00 am. Then made my way up to Oxford. There was a lot of bugs at this summit, mostly beetles and grasshoppers. At the summit someone had left an empty bag of tuna that attracted a huge amount of fly's.
Ranger at the top of Oxford
At this point I was debating whether or not to attempt hiking Missouri Mountain from Elk Head Pass, but decided against it after seeing the dark clouds coming our way. These peaks reminded me of Shav and Tab in which you should be careful of attempting both if you see bad weather coming in because the only way back is to descend and then climb Belford again. After crossing Belford again it was a quick trip down the switchbacks into the gulch.
River at the beginning
We made it back to the trailhead right in time, for the rain to begin. We packed up and hit the soaked road back down to Highway 24. Hopefully everyone that was still on the trail had their rain gear. All in all, a good day on Belford and Oxford!
RT time: 6:52:22
Distance: 10.73 Miles
Elevation Gain: 5,761 ft