| Gore Range August 2012
This was the third time I had driven to the mountains with the intention of climbing Peak N. The first was thwarted by my idea that a "quick" hike up Mt. Silverthorne in the southern Gore Range was a good thing to do the morning before I packed in to Lost Lake that afternoon with a group of friends. The second attempt was due to a very late cheeseburgler and my stubbornness to wait for him (I did Pacific Peak instead). I left work early Friday afternoon and arrived at the Heeney Creek Road around 4:30, right after a big storm had ended. The 4wd road to the Brush Creek TH was a muddy mess. Having driven the same road on a trip to Slate Lake 2 weeks before, I knew if I could get up the first quarter mile I would probably be fine. I tried 3 times to get up the first steep section and I slid backwards down the hill all 3 times, even in 4wd low. Had I been here when I was younger I would have no doubt forced it until I became stuck. This day I turned around and started hiking from the road. It’s only an extra 2.5 miles, which I did in 45 minutes at a fast pace.
Brush Creek Road
At the Brush Creek trailhead you take the Brush Creek trail for about half a mile, then a left on the Gore Range trail and take that for a mile, then a right on Lost Lake trail for another 2 miles or so to get to Lost Lake. Lost Lake was one of my favorite spots I have camped at in the Gore Range. I had the place to myself, not seeing anyone on the hike in or at the lake. I enjoyed a few IPAs and thought the good thoughts I think camping alone in the mountains before I hit the sack. This was my last trip to the mountains for several months since I started the last hard semester of graduate school the following week, so I savored it.
Camp at Lost Lake
I got up the next morning at 6:30 and started hiking at 7. I packed my sleeping bag, pad, and lots of food incase I broke a leg and had to spend a few nights up there. It would be a long time to wait before anyone found you back there. The bushwhack started immediately above the lake. I headed south for 2 or 3 miles through pretty rough terrain. Lots of logs, boulders, steep slopes, and bear crap. Half fallen trees perched up by branches from other half dead trees were like booby traps waiting to strike the innocent. I tried as best I could to stay out from under these hazards. I even got out my compass. I am not sure if I have actually used a compass to find my way since I was a dweebelo cub scout as my dad used to call me.
I passed by the normal couloir route to Peak N
On this trip I was most concerned about 1) rockslides 2) falling trees 3) running into bears 4) getting lost above Lost Lake. I have run into quite a few bears the last few years, one time on Eagles Nest not far from here, and after a close encounter with a momma bear on a trail run behind my old work I have a healthy respect for them. Unfortunately I had forgotten my USMC Ka-Bar knife, which gives my big ego a false sense of security, so I just stomped on every dead branch that came across my path to be loud.
Eventually I made it to some large boulder fields southeast of Peak N, which consisted of hundreds of yards of boulders ranging from oven to car size. Some were loose and there were sections that were steep, and the thought of causing a rockslide terrified me, so I pretended I was on the USA gymnastics squad and used my balance and tranquility to float over them like a ferry, not wanting to disturb the big blocks in their comfortable resting places. I came to the basin between Peak N and Guyselman and thought that being in this place at this time was exactly what I needed.
I went up the basin a ways over more boulder fields and then turned right and ascended a gulley.
Gulley up Peak N
It was a loose annoying gulley, but nothing too bad really. It went by quick. There was some fun scrambling near the top, which can be avoided if you stay in the gulley the whole time.
Guyselman - If I ever get crazy I will drag skis all the way back here to ski this one
When I topped out on the ridge, I literally said “wow” when I saw the view of the Black Creek drainage and Eagles Nest, Powell, Peak C and the Ripsaw Ridge to the north.
Once on the ridge it was only a minute to the summit.
I topped out at 10:15 and sat up there until 11. I thought about traversing to Guyselman or O, but I had to be back in Denver by 6 and didn’t think I’d make it. I signed the climbers log and noticed only 2 people had signed it since May when my friends had signed it. This summit really felt out there – maybe just because I was alone, but it was one of my favorite experiences in the mountains thus far. The Gore Range is my favorite range in Colorado, and Peak N probably has the best summit view I have had in the range.
Peak C and Bubble Lake
Black Creek Drainage
Southern Gore Range
Lost Lake from Peak N
I made the slow descent back to camp, which when bushwhacking like this it often takes as much time to descend as it does to ascend. Once below tree line landmarks were hard to come by. I got out my compass again and headed north. After stomping through the woods for a while I spilled out at Lost Lake.
Peak N and O from Lost Lake
Once back on the Gore Range trail in the shade of heavy trees I saw a big dark thing headed up the trail towards me and I thought Oh shit here is the bear that I have been worrying about. After I got closer I realized it was just a hunter with a big beer belly dressed head to toe in camouflage. He was from the south and we talked for a few minutes about the Gore Range and the places we have been in it. He was very friendly and respectful, as most southerners are. Back at the car I enjoyed no traffic on I-70 and made it back to Denver by 5:45, just in time.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):