Humbolt is a fun straightforward climb. And today it was a good wildlife viewing adventure.
For your reference it was a 3.5hr drive from Golden. Any vehicle can make it to the lower trailhead. But do yourself a favor and use a four wheel drive vehicle to avoid the boring road walk. I believe you will need a four wheel drive to get to the upper trailhead. I watched a Volvo AWD try three times before it made it over one section. There are a couple of steep areas with near car sized craters. At the trailhead there were only large 4wd trucks, my older model Rav4 (short wheel base), and the Volvo (congrats to Pam and Ted for getting it there!)
The latest in toilet facilities? How do these work?
The trail is excellent. I always bring a map, but it wasn't necessary, except for one fork. When you are passing the South Colony Lake, the trail branches and the wrong one looks more used. Stay to your right.
These trees by Colony Lake work hard to stay alive.
There has been a lot of work completed on the trail. An amazing amount of deadfall has been cut and removed. There is one huge bridge and a couple of log bridges. In one area the rock fill on a creek is so good you may think you should turn and follow it.
You get great views of the Crestone Needle most of the route. I also got to watch 4 climbers work their way up the face during my 4 hour climb.
The Infamous Crestone Needle
Can you see the dots? (about 2/3 up the picture and 1/5 up the wall)
The Upper Colony Lakes
It isn't necessary for this climb, but you may want to take advantage of the many campsites around both of the Upper Colony lakes. There is also a meadow with a group campsite on your left about 15 minutes walk up from the signs at the old upper parking lot (end of the road).
From the lakes on up, Humbolt was overrun with Marmots. I've never seen so many so close to each other. And they are so used to humans that they don't even call out warning chirps.
Can you spot the Marmot?
Also, I learned that Marmots eat the lichen off the rocks. I watched several of them using their front teeth to scrape it off.
Along the zigzaging trail to the shoulder I encountered these guys. At first I only saw the mom.
She kept butting the bush and then chewing
Then 3 lambs joined her. The lambs started down the trail and would have run me over. But mom snorted and guided them around me.
The lambs were playing and rarely ate anything
When they got to a lower level, they were joined by two more lambs! One mom with 5 lambs? Is this possible? Was she running a day care?
One of the two additional lambs.
When I reached the shoulder some darker clouds threatened but they turned fluffy and white within a half hour.
There were 4 folks on the summit and 6 arrived later. I saw a total of 13 climbing Humbolt.
After making the summit and enjoying the beautiful day and awesome views, I headed down. Past the lakes and before the old upper parking lot I received my final treat. I spotted my first Ptarmigan.
I stayed still but she was nervous and even walked into the middle of the trail as if she wanted me to chase her.
She started walking down the middle of the trail. Was she leading me away? Or was it just easier walking?
She then hopped up on a pile of debris, clucked and surprise! two chicks flew from the underbrush to join her.
This image is dark - my camera wasn't fast enough to catch the chicks bursting out of the underbrush.
This was an excellent hike and the wildlife made it amazing. Climb Humbolt now while the babies are still there.
8:15 start, 9:25 old upper lot signs, 11:10 shoulder and 12:35 summit.
Have a great hike!
Part of the severe deadfall everywhere. It must have been a vicious winter.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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