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 Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
 Post Date:  10/16/2011
 Date Climbed:   10/13/2011
 Posted By:  MOJO8800

 "...trudge the Road of Happy Destiny"   

Camping off the road to American Basin was rather chilly. Hard for me to function well until the sun hit our camp, which wasn't until about 1000. The trade off was seeing only one other car come briefly into the area. The road was mostly clear of snow, until the turn off towards the basin. Based on the sign in log, no one had hiked the trail in the last 5 days.
With the exception on the south west slope leading towards the summit, the trail was covered in snow of varrying depths and textures. Although I carried microspikes, they were not needed. My 3 companions turned around at about 12,700. I was hoping they would continue to a view of sloan lake, but one--my significant other--has hiked with me enough to ignore me after I scouted ahead and annoucned that I thought a view of lake was "just a little furter on up..."
The descent into the east end of the basin seemed counterintuitive, but as the cairns were large and proud, I took this route. I believe I was on a path slightly higher than the main trail for the ascent out, which may have made it harder than it had to be. The slope leading to the summit was the most enjoyable section. Thanks to the cloudless sky, I had unlimmited views from the summit ( a first for me in the San Juans, and another perk of late fall hiking.)
For the descent, I made a last minute decision (never a real good idea) to take the snow route, or Route #3. It wasnt real apparent to me from the summit, so I may not have been in the exact area. It was still a lot of fun, until I missed veering to the left, and encountered terrain similar to that shown on Photo 5, center left, in the description of this route. I tossed my poles, then tossed my pack for more stability. While the poles stoped sliding relatively quicly, the pack fell a disturbing distance. The only casualities were to my hydration pack, and to some cool rocks I had collectied for my companions. I'd estimate the ratio of good rock/hand and foot holds to those that gave way was about 40/60 in this area, and I was very grateful to get back on the main trail.
After another chilly night, we drove to Ridgeway, and camped at Orvis. The hot springs and warmer weather were appreciated by all. The next day, we hooked up with a friend from Ouray, and hiked Bear Creek. This trail was snow free to the first mine, and there was still a lot of vibrant color to the Aspens. Although I'd hiked this before in summer, it was a something else to experience in the fall.

 


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