Elevation Gain: 4,786'
Trailhead: Banks Mine (0.4m from Huron 4WD TH)
Time: 11.5 hrs (5 hrs from Winfield to Pt 13,253 S)
I seem to do my best thinking while hiking. It may be that when I am pushing myself to do harder things or to hike faster, I practice walking meditation. The petty worries of daily life melt away, and the brain is left clear and calm to solve the more pressing problems. I was in some desperate need of meditating over some family troubles, and this long loop would be just the therapy needed to think.
I started from my campsite near the Banks Mine site, and followed the road on the other side to where the FS has a couple planks across the stream. After a short stretch of actual trail, it was a straight up the slope to get to the east ridge of Winfield. Along the way I was treated to a pink sky of sunrise. Some minor scrambling too, if you can find the rocky cliffs along the way.
Pink sky behind Huron and the Apostles
Red summit ridge of Winfield
East ridge up Winfield
From the unranked summit of Winfield, the route was clear. Follow the ridge line till I get to the last peak. And.... go!
Looking at my route from Winfield
On Virginia Peak, the route becomes even more obvious, as the ridge zig zags a little. Great clear morning!
On Virginia, looking back at Winfield
Pano of my ridge run
Looking at West Virginia
Some pretty purple flowers just below West Virginia's summit
The summit of West Virginia was a bit surprising! I climbed carefully up onto the summit blocks, and quickly back down again. Snapped a few more photos, then time to run the ridge to the next peak.
The exposed summit of West Virgina - carefully climbed upon...
Other view of summit block
Looking back at Winfield and Virginia
Onwards to Sheep Rock Mountain!
Final push up Sheep Rock, minor class 2+
With about half the ridge run done, I took a slightly longer break on the summit of Sheep Rock Mountain. The next section would be long till the next peak. Plus there were two annoying bumps to navigate along the way. While I hoped to be able to skirt them, it was much easier to just run the ridge up and over them. Even got some fun scrambling as a reward for the extra elevation gain.
Pano of second half of ridge run
Route up and over two annoying unranked bumps
Second annoying bump - easier to just go up and over the ridge.
Somce class 3 on the second bump along the ridge
Once on Pt 13,235 I could relax a little on the pace. With 30% storms, I wasn't too worried, but it was still nice to know I could safely complete the loop without having to bail. The remainder of the ridge was class 2+ with pockets of 3, including one exposed section. Thankfully the exposed section was pretty short.
View of 13,253 from 13,235
Looking back at the where I was
Taylor Park Reservoir basin
Last part of ridge to 13,253
Looking back at 13,235
Huron and 3 Apostles
Remaining ridge and unranked 13,253 south
On the last ranked peak of the day, with just the unranked Pt 13,235 South to go, I had some decisions to make. Furthermore dropped off the ridge after the last peak, and I had been spying the grassy slope down to the basin below. But then it would be a bushwack back to the trail. Or I could just continue along the ridge to the saddle and drop down the Colorado Trail. I went with option 2. The skies were still good!
Flowers for the Apostles
The last bump before the trail was not looking nice to me. I didn't want to go uphill again. I was starting to regret continuing on along the ridge, instead of dropping down to the valley below. The slope I could see, that skirted it, looked grassy and nice. I just hoped that the unseen slope around the corner was as nice. It was not. Should have gone over this bump as well. Darn!
Hurray, the Colorado Trail!
Last bump along ridge - just go up an over. Skirting it to the west was unpleasant
Once on the nice CT trail, it was mostly easy going. My right boot was bumping my right ankle badly. So my pace slowed drastically. Not something I wanted with 4.5 miles left to go. Not sure exactly what to do about this problem, may have to look into different boots for these long days.
Waterfall by trail
Parting short of 3 Apostles
So while I may not have solved all my family related troubles on this hike, I did do some important thinking and problem solving. Plus, it's always a great day when I get to see the 3 Apostles up close!