A large group of us (12) met in Colorado Springs at 0400 and piled into two vehicles for an early morning ride to the Denny Creek Trailhead. After a gas/pit stop in Divide, we made good time to the trailhead, arriving just before 0630 and getting on the trail at 0634. It was perfect morning with temps in the upper 40s at the base, no wind, and some high clouds. We were immediately impressed with the quality of the trail, the flora, and the amount of water from recent storms flowing in the creeks. The group stayed together well for the first 1.5 to 2 miles, but then began to string out a little once the climbing got a little more serious. The group was in good shape, though, so we weren't strung out too badly. I stayed back with a couple of the rookies, encouraging them and keeping the others generally within site. We hiked amongst other groups of 2 to 4 for most of the hike, playing accordion as each group would pause, pass, hike, pause, pass, etc. The winds stayed down and we made it to treeline before the sun came over the ridges. We were impressed by the staircase steps built into the steeper parts of the trail and the dirt portions were soft, but not muddy, from the rains. Flowers were everywhere in the tundra, including some above-the-trees Columbines. The views towards the Apostles, Harvard, Columbia, and other peaks to the north were spectacular. A couple of our younger hikers were moving very quickly and our stragglers (who were still on 3.5 hour pace to summit) decided to join up with other groups that were moving slower. I donned my optic green-yellow windbreaker and took off to catch the leaders as they gained the final ridgeline. The clouds continued to grow, but were non-convective and it was still quite early. When I reached the final ridgeline, the leaders in my group were waiting for me, and we negotiated the boulders together, losing the trail a couple of times and weaving through the rocks with another group that had two small dogs--I thought that if one of them fell into a crevasse, they might not make it out, but the dogs (and owners) did well. The summit filled pretty quickly as it seemed several of the dawn-starting groups arrived at about the same time. We enjoyed our summit sodas, took plenty of photos of ourselves and others, and made some new friends. I think this was the first 14er for four in our group, so this was a happy group.The clouds cleared for a short time, but most of the summit time was in the clouds with a cool breeze. Clouds were beginning to envelope Princeton to the south, so we headed down at about 1045. The trip down went quickly and uneventfully, as we strolled by several fat marmots sunning themselves on the rocks. We made it to the parking lot just a few minutes after 1300 and the last in the group was there by 1315, so we were packed up and gone by 1330 and back to the Springs by 1530! A great, quick day trip with awesome company! (I've decided to put all of my photos at the end here to save time. You can find a link to all 200+ plus photos that I took here at my photo website.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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