| Belford, Oxford....Missouri!!!???
My wife and I are trying to do a bunch of 14ers this weekend for our five year anniversary. Our original plan was to do Belford and Oxford and if we felt really ambitious then we would get Missouri as well...(I'll drop in some photos later, I don't know how to do it on my iPad)
We started at the Missouri Gulch trailhead about 3:45 and made our way with lamps to the Elk basin fork, took a left up to Belford and made our way up to the summit. Wind started picking up about 13,500 ft, it was down right chilly on the top of Belford.
Skies were clear and we were feeling good so we made our way over to Oxford. We met up with a guy coming back from Oxford. He said he was going to try and do Missouri as well,up to this point I thought we would have to go all the way back to the fork that we took left coming up to Belford. As I didn't see anything to the contrary on the 14ers web site. But he said, "nah you can head along the saddle coming down the south side of Belford, just stay to the left, because if you start to head right you get on some rocks and start climbing and just have to come down." Well that was good enough for us to keep our spirits up.
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We summited Oxford about 8:50, took our pictures and made our way back towards Belford. To a look at the saddle to Missouri and saw a bail out on the low point, thinking if we get over there and it doesn't look to good then we will head on back down the valley.
We got to the base of the saddle and my wife felt good about trying it, the whole way the I was trying to scope even the idea of a legit trail (there is none, just remnants of idiots like myself trying this option). It was a little after 10 when we started making our ascent toward Missouri. Weather still looked great.
As we went up I saw a few track from the guy we met this morning ( I made a note to memorize his tread pattern). The first few hundred yards are not a big deal, until we got to the base of the first rock tower where we saw another emergency bail out, but my wife felt ok so we started making our way left on the south side of the mountain.
Again no trail just a foot print/slide from the guy early in the morning. Lots of scree, larger loose rock and no visible way to head up directly. We kept heading along the slopes along the south side. I was worried we were going to have to go all the way to the saddle on the southwest side of Missouri. We made our way due south of what I am going to call the 1st nipple east of the summit and started heading up. I have to say I like this kind of stuff, serious scrambling and 5.3-5.4 style climbing, but my wife is somewhat new to it. She did great but it was really out of her comfort zone. I would say this stuff is easily class3-4 exposure in places. It took a long time to make our way up, by the grace of God the weather held. We didn't summit until about 1:10. When we did we started getting some sprinklers. Then it was time to make our way back down to the elk horn fork, we were pretty tired at this point so it was slow going. Had a little hail along the ridge line, when we got back down to the valley where the signs shows the elk horn basin (I think) the trail we should have taken down instead of actually doing Missouri it was some nice easy hiking, thank goodness. When we got back to the fork we had to take a little nap to regain some strength, we we out of water at this point too and only had a Gatorade and tea left. A marmot kept us company before we dosed off, he actually came up close enough to take a nibble of my wife's backpack strap.
After the nap(30 min) we actually had a good amount of energy to make our way back to the truck. We we about 1/2 mile out when the real storm rolled in and pretty much soaked us. Made it back to the truck at 5:30 pm, 13.5 mile hike, 14 hour day.
I will try to load up some pics and my gpx file wheni get back home. I don't think 14ers.com will be putting this up as a viable route anytime soon. Lessons learned: dont listen to some random guy on the trail taking smack about being able to do Missouri ( very easily that is), 14ers.com seem to know what routes are available to us, pack enough supplies, don't feed the marmots they're getting really friendly.
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