ROUTE: Northwest Ridge (Standard route from Lake Creek Trailhead)
ROUTE LENGTH: 9.4
HIKE TIME: 6.5 Hours (4 for the ascent, 2.5 on the descent)
TRAIL CONDITIONS: All dry! Another great hike in my Chacos
WEATHER: 60 degrees with little wind the whole day. Gorgeous weather
The Mines 14er Crew headed out for another weekend in the beautiful Sawatch Range.
We headed out from Golden at about 7 on Friday to camp the night before our hike. The problem with was that just about every single camping spot within 2 miles of the La Plata Trailhead was taken. I don't know if the Twin Lakes Area is that busy on the weekends, or if some special event was going on. Either way, we had to camp in a parking lot by the lake. We finally got to bed at about 10.
We woke up at 7 and got to the trailhead at about 8. The parking lot for the trailhead was a bit small for a Saturday, but we managed to find a parking space.
The hike really reminded me of Mount Belford in the sense that it was about 2 miles through a forest, then 2.5 miles up a steep mountain side. I really liked all the creek crossings along this trail
Creek that runs under the vehicle bridge
Creek that runs under the foot bridge
Creek that runs along the trail through the forest
There were tons of wildflowers along the creek including a few Columbines
One of the hundreds of Columbines along the trail
After the forest section, the trail opens up into a beautiful valley, with La Plata Peak to the Southeast
First opening after the forest
View through the forest. I couldn't figure out which peak that is though
Once the trail opens into the valley, the real hiking begins. There's a series of steep switchbacks that wind back and forth up a pretty steep incline
Switchbacks from the basin up towards the ridge of La Plata
View back towards the trailhead
At the top of the switchbacks and a few long traverses, there's a nice view of La Plata to the South and Ellingwood Ridge to the East
The ridge before the Class 2 hiking starts
Ellingwood Ridge looking towards the East
The Class 2 scrambling along the ridge of La Plata was my favorite part. I can't go fast enough to stress my lungs, and I get to use my hands to find holds just like bouldering or rock climbing
We finally made it to the summit where we met 2 gracious women who lent us their Which Wich bag. We spent about an hour on the summit and decided to head back down
At the summit! 14th 14er!
Biggest marmot I've seen in my 20 years of existence
Leanne with La Plata in the background on our way down
Looking back towards the trailhead and the basin we started in
La Plata is another one of those Sawatch 14ers that has 4,000' of elevation gain, and my legs let me know for sure of that the next day. It was a gorgeous hike and a gorgeous day all around!