Mount Owen Group, et. al. - adding my 2 cents worth
Wild Cherry trail on the west side of the San De Cristos.
Highway 285 south of Poncha Springs, Road 17 to Road AA.
I was not able to go along with Furthermore on Memorial Day but I made it on my own for the long loop on a very nice, "blue bird" day on the 1st day of June. I have a few more pictures for more perspective on the route.
I followed the same route except for the approach to 12,860 where I went higher up the Wild Cherry trail to 11,000 feet before turning southeasterly into the basin east of 12,860. The extra swing to the east added a bit more distance but no bushwhacking.
Early morning light along Wild Cherry trail
Basin east of 12,860
The route went up the snow that can be seen between the two trees, then to the right up a grassy ledge, back left and up the next higher snowfield and up a mix of grass and rocks to the ridge.
12,860 above the basin with a "catwalk" along the ridge to 13,122 left
As I ascended 12,860's eastern slopes and benches I stumbled upon this baby, which looked to be an elk, hiding in the brush. It flicked its ears a few times but was not moving as it waited for its mother to return.
The hike up the moderate slopes was uneventful passing some ice sculptures on the way to the summit. I was making good time as I gained the 4400 feet and reached the summit in at 9:00 am after having started at about 5:30 am.
last few feet to summit
Okay so with the 12er out of the way it was on to the 13ers.
13,122 from 12,860
dog on the "catwalk" I don't see any cats?
The "catwalk" was generally Class 2 and level but there were three, maybe four spots along the way that required some Class 2+ or Class 3 scrambling.
This spot was a bit tricky but can be bypassed.
looking back past a Class 3 move
more of the "catwalk"
I went to the right and down a bit to avoid this obstacle, then climbed back up a few feet to the saddle. You could go left just as well.
ridge heading to the saddle for 13,122
There was a lot of "slabby" rock on all the peaks.
Cherry Lake with Mount Owen behind
13,122 with 13,490 ahead
I was still making good time, 45 minutes to get from 12,860 across the "catwalk" to the saddle and about one hour and 20 minutes to 13,122 arriving there at about 10:30 am.
I followed the ridge to 13,490 past the ridge connecting to Mount Owen. There are three false summits on the way to 13,490, which is the point at the farthest end of this ridge.
last few feet to summit
I think the false summits started taking a small toll on me but still reached the summit at about 12:10 pm. After sending the next spot message I headed back to the connecting ridge to Mount Owen.
I reached the connecting ridge to Mount Owen at about 12:50 pm and contemplate the nearly two miles and something like 900 vertical (ups and downs) necessary to get to the summit.
ridge to Mount Owen
looking back from part way across to Mount Owen
I was trying to stay at the saddle elevation but below the very "slabby" rock that inhabited the ridge. The lowest point along the way was at approximately 12,730. The first third of the way was pretty good but then it turned to talus and rock. After you reach the lowest point on the ridge the slope became more grassy and the hike became better. However the traverse was taking more of a toll on the legs and I was moving slower. It took about two hours for me to make it to the summit of Mount Owen from 13,080 at the 13,122-13,490 ridge.
ridge down to 10,995
I don't know why but I had to get this peak, check off an entire quad, the 5th peak (highly prized), to keep up with the young guns and "gun-ettes" (feminine of guns?). It was obnoxious especially after having it at the end of a long hike. It was probably less than 400 vertical but it was hard to believe it had something like four false summits. You get to the "high" point only to see there are trees standing taller than where you are, farther away. So off to the next "high" point and so on.
Mount Owen and 12,860 from the "true" summit of 10,995
I think I found the exact same cactus as Furthermore (hmm, well, maybe not exactly).
Some bushwhacking down a drainage, catch a faint trail and then dive down to the Wild Cherry trail for the last few miles. The last mile always being the longest, this one feeling especially so. Of course it would have helped, maybe, to have had more than 5 1/2 hours sleep the night before.
Just nine more 13ers and 6 more 12ers in the Sangres to go.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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