| Naylor Lake Loop + Edwards
Estimate: 6000 feet of elevation gain, about 16 miles.
Gear and equipment: Microspikes, Ice Axe, Gaitors, Snowshoes, Ski Poles, Handwarmers, Good Winter Clothes
Start - finish 7 am - 9.30 pm.
Recently I red a trip report by AndYouSeeMee describing a nice easy loop hike around Naylor Lake with three ranked 13ers involved. I looked at the map and started to make my Saturday plan. I realized that not only there are three 13ers on the loop but also that there is a ridge from Argentine Peak towards Grays Peak that contains a centennial Mt. Edwards. So I decided to hike the loop and when on the summit of Argentine, decide if I am fresh enough to go grab Edwards. Well, go grab is not exactly what I did, unles it means pretty long hike.
Route overview from Sawtooth.
I started at the campground below Guanella pass, at the beginning of Naylor Lake Road. This is current trailhead since there is snow on NL road. I continued to the small parking lot where the Silver Dollar Lake Trail starts and continued on the trail, soon I needed snowshoes and when I got just above the Naylor Lake, I left the trail to the left where there was a large gully that I hoped would deposit me on the ridge that leads to Square Top Mountain.
A gully to the left that goes directly to the ridge that is connected to Square Top Mntn.
The gully has still a lot of snow and since I put off my snowshoes too early and was too lazy to put them back on, I postholed a little bit.
Upper part of the gully holds a lot of snow.
On the ridge, I realized that the weather forecast was pretty inacurate. It predicted wind about 10-15 mph and I encountered wind maybe 50 mph with gusts that I couldn't stand in (maybe 70 mph)..
On the ridge, Square Top ahead of me.
On the ridge, the hike to the Square Top Mountain summit was nice except the wind. It was so strong that I could not stand on the summit and I wasn't able to take pictures, my hands froze and I runned to lower myself to the saddle with Argentine Pk where the wind was OK.
Picture of Argentine and Wilcox from the ridge.
The ridge towards Argentine was snowed all over. The snow was soft and deep, easy to hike through, I used Ice axe just for security.
Argentine Pk. from the saddle between Square Top Mntn. and Argentine Pk.
Square Top Mountain from the sub summit of Argentine Pk.
Summit of Argentine Pk.
Me on Argentine Pk.
On the summit of Argentine Pk., I decided I had eneugh energy to go to Edwards and back. The ridge looked as an easy hike, not too far, not too deep. I was wrong, it was far (? maybe 2 miles?) and like a rollercoaster. Up and down, up and down, over about million sub summits. Well, it took me 2 hours to Edwards and same amount of time back.
The ridge between Argentine Pk. and Mt. Edwards is bumpy. And long..Very long..
View of Grays Pk. and Torreys Pk. from the summit of Mt. Edwards.
Greas Pk., Torreys Pk., and Mt. Edwards from the ridge.
I was hoping to be able to bypass Argentine on the way to Wilcox but it looked too steep, so I got back to Argentine Pk. at 6 pm, very tired and I went down to the saddle with Wilcox. I was thinking to bypass the summit and go directly down to my car but I finally decided to finish by summiting Wilcox. It was only about 500 feet to gain and I felt I'll be able to do this, although it will get dark before I finish. So I went up and while I was hiking up, a cloud rolled in and snowed. I took a picture of its leftover from the summit.
Sunset over Grays and Torreys.
Evans and Bierstadt.
Square Top Mountain in sunset glow.
A snowy cloud.
Me on the summit of Wilcox Pk.
After that, I continued the long slope of Wilcox towards Naylor Lake. Before I got there, it got almost dark, the slope is not steep in the upper part but it is pretty bad just above the lake. In the rest of the daylight, I found some avalanche chute that I took as my route down. I descended it and it was completely dark, so I turned on my head lamp. I planned to go through the forest further east to bypass the private facility at the lake. First it seemed that only the problem there will be some serious postholing. I was wrong, soon I got to a large area full of fallen trees, a horrible mess. Deep snow + postholing combined with climbing over fallen conifers... There I decided to go directly to the middle of the valley to get out as soon as possible and it took me over an hour to pass about 300 yards. Finally I saw a little house with a sign of no trespassing on it and I said myself F@#k it. I just went down to the center of the valley, noticed some footprints in the snow and assumed it is the Naylor Lake Road (which was correct) and I used it to get out, passed other signs of "private property, no trespassing".. Nobody was there to shoot me. I got to the car at 9.30, very happy and tired
For those who do the same loop, I'd reccomend to do a better research of how to get down from Wilcox, I though I will just see it from the top or find it easily, if I did my homework, I'd probably save myself a lot of troubles. Worth to mention, the only people I met on this trip was a group with dogs in the morning just several hundred yards from the trailhead. After that nobody.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):