It had been a long work week but I needed to get out since I had not made it out last weekend (at my age you have to keep moving or lose momentum).
The dog and myself headed down to the now familiar road out of Nathrop past the Mount Princeton Hot Springs, avoiding the many deer, past Alpine to St. Elmo. I had been down a few weeks ago for 13,626 after having looked at the start of the Tincup Pass Road. The road two weeks ago was still snow covered to the bottom where you are still in town and a street over from the main road.
The road had melted out some and I was able to drive 0.5 miles up the pass road to a nice large camp spot. The road is a major snowmobile road and so the snow had been groomed and packed so it may take a bit more to melt the ice and snow. I maybe could have driven another mile or so but I elected not to try (need new tires). There was a 200-300 yard long stretch past where I parked that was still snow packed and as is the case a lot of times once past there it was okay for a while.
The start that I had ended up yielding a 12.4 mile loop with approximately 4800 feet in vertical.
A bit of excitement were these tracks. A black bear had the same idea to use the road as I had. The bottom print is the left front paw and the upper print is the right rear paw I believe.
Fortunately this, probably hungry bear had been walking that way at least a day earlier as some of the prints has a thin layer of frozen water over them. I could see where the prints went from mud to snow as there were muddy prints on the snow.
Prints a big as my foot, almost or a dogs nose.
I had not walked much farther when I found a very nice ax. I was thinking how fortuitous this find was, in case I had to defend myself.
The road is still holding some snow. I think a four wheeler could make it a ways up the road or a 4wd with good tires maybe.
I walked the road for 1.5 miles from my parking spot and headed right and to the west of the Lake Gulch drainage. I did not find a trail and so bushwacked my way up. I basically went straight up following to the right side of a small creek. The trees were spaced well and there was not much snow other than a patch here and there. The slope was moderately steep as you gain around 2500 feet in about 1.5 miles.
This rock outcrop is just above treeline.
This is looking back at my tracks.
The lake as it sits at the top of Lake Gulch sitting at 11,755 feet.
This is looking east past rocks.
This is looking back down the more gentle finish.
Summit to Mt. Princeton and points in between (13,078, 13,317, 13,626).
It was 3.2 miles and approximately 2800 feet to 13,050 and took me about 2 hours 15 minutes.
So... let's go for Tincup at 13,345.
Tincup did not look too far away but the ridge over was not a walk across. It was fairly rocky for the first half of the way but nothing over Class 2 (with maybe a lean or few against a rock).
The ridge to Tincup.
The remaining portion of the ridge past the rocks.
I was making my way towards Tincup when I decided that maybe we should head for Emma Burr. So off we went that way...
Summit of Emma Burr at 13,538.
It took me as long to get the 2.6 miles from 13,050 to Emma Burr as it took to get up to 13,050.
Colorful rocks on the way back towards Tincup.
Tincup at 13,345.
Tincup Pass with Fitzpatrick at the far left. This would be another day because based on today's efforts it would take a few hours and at least another 1100 vertical to get there.
This picturesque small lake (shown on the quad map) along my descent.
A note on my descent. I would not recommend this way at least until the snow melts. My easterly descent down from the saddle, just before the divide heads down westerly to Tincup Pass, had a few steep drops and then went into the willows and past the small lake. So far not bad, but once past the lake and into the trees the snow was still deep, 3-4 feet. Snow and slush really slowed me down as I was sinking too many times waist to chest deep. It did not take long to get tired of that and I worked my way over and across Woodchopper Creek and ultimately up on the southwest exsposed slopes on the east side of Woodchopper Creek. The rest of the way down after that was okay.
A nice day, sunny and warm with only a cool breeze. It was nearly 10 hours after I started that I made it back to the truck. I would say that the slushfest added 1-1 1/2 hours on the return.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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