Started: 5:45 am
Trailhead to Belford: 3 hr 44 min
Belford to Oxford: 1 hr 12 min
Oxford to Belford: 1 hr 10 min
Belford to Trailhead: 2 hr 24 min
According to the GPS watch:
Total Time - 9:19:40 (including time on the summits)
Total Distance - 8.05 miles
We started at the trailhead around 5:45am as the sun was coming up. As we were walking up the Missouri Gulch trail, we realized that this was a repeat of the last 14er we hiked…. Missouri Mountain back in October. We successfully did not set off any panic alarms in the car early this morning, so I suppose that was an improvement! ;)
Sun coming up along the trail
No issues with the stream crossings
This time, at the sign, we went left toward Mt. Belford. We saw many beautiful views of Missouri, which we were on just last fall. The trip up Belford was very steep, as many others have warned. During this trip, we were watching the clouds, and it even started to “snow” just a little, even though the clouds didn’t look too angry. It stopped almost as quickly as it started and it seemed as if we might be in the clear for the rest of the day.
looking back towards the trailhead
looking forward towards the trail to Belford
Headed up to Belford
Once we finally get towards the top, we could see the odd hump of rocks that is the summit of Belford. As we finally get to the top, we took a short break, while watching some marmots fighting and a Pica hanging out on the summit.
Marmots fighting on the summit of Belford
We quickly begin our trip on the saddle from Belford to Oxford. The descent down the saddle was especially steep, and I was very grateful we had our poles.
On the way to Oxford
When we made it to the top of Oxford, we were ready for a slightly longer break including more pictures and time spent talking to the other hikers. We noticed a toaster next to the marker, but it didn’t have a cord, so I am not sure it really serves a purpose. The views were beautiful from Oxford and we found a new appreciation for the trip from Belford to Oxford.
From the top of Oxford
Panoramic from Oxford
Did someone forget their toaster??
Adam and I on Oxford
After about 30 minutes on the summit, we noticed some angry clouds headed our way. We decided to begin our descent since we still needed to summit Belford once more. On the trip back to Belford, we began to hear the thunder and we saw lightning behind us and looked to be on Oxford at the time. The wind picked up quite a bit and we started to feel some rain, and were just hoping that everyone we left behind on the summit of Oxford was already headed back down by that time.
Ominous clouds behind us on Oxford...complete with thunder and lightning...
Even though we were hitting the very steep ascent up the saddle to Belford, we had motivation to keep moving as quickly as possible. I think that normally it would have been longer from Oxford to Belford, but the lightning was enough to get our butts in gear. As we were getting back to Belford, the clouds moved quickly past Oxford and were headed for Princeton (I think that is the one right next to Oxford?). Since the sky cleared up a bit, we actually were able to spend some extra time on the Belford summit. We took some photos, ate some food, and finally decided not to press our luck any longer and start heading down Belford.
Panoramic from Belford
Me on the top of Belford
Adam at the top of Belford
Time to head down
The trip down Belford was very steep and I was once again very grateful for poles. We made good time on the way back, and were excited to get to familiar territory where elk head pass met up with the Mt. Belford trail. We talked to a few people that actually took an alternate route down Belford that met up with the Elk Head trail. This route was about a mile longer, but not as steep so it was much easier on the joints, according to them. We passed the final stream crossing, and arrived at the trailhead around 3pm. Overall, this was a great hike and a great workout with the multiple ascents and descents throughout the trip.
Marmot just chilling on a rock
Almost down to the trailhead
The most wonderful part of the hike was the amazing display of wildflowers along the trail. They lined many parts of the trail and came in a multitude of colors! They were beautiful!
Wildflowers lining the trail
Butterfly blending in with the flowers on the way to Oxford
A couple of extra notes on this trip:
1. The trip down Belford was frustratingly steep. I strongly recommend poles for this descent.
2. I would not recommend this descent with a dog on a leash. I couldn’t imagine having my puppies with me on this trek down without biting it multiple times. There weren’t any other problems with this trail for dogs, so if you have a dog that is okay off a leash, this trip is probably a good one for them.
3. We discovered a new part of Buena Vista once we were finding a place to eat. The “new Main St.” area is pretty neat and there is even a brewery (bonus!!).