| Plan B-Yale Loop
Although I have been using this website to plan my 14er hikes for the past several years, this is my first trip report. I am just your average, middle-aged hiker looking for people to go hiking with me. I have attempted to recruit my husband, my kids, neighbors, family, friends, coworkers, my kids friends, friends of friends, parents of friends, you get the idea. If you have a heartbeat and a pair of hiking boots, please come hiking with me. So, when I researched Yale and discovered that for just a few extra miles, you could also hike a bit on the Colorado Trail ( completion of this trail another one of my lofty goals), I thought “why not?” I have also been known to be queen of the “tack-on”.
So, my current recruits were my friend Anne and her dad visiting from Oklahoma, Don. None of us are rookies. We have all hiked 14ers before. So, 10.5 miles from Avalanche Trailhead seemed very doable. We had nowhere else to be today. Getting to the trailhead was a piece of cake. Directions on website were perfect, paved lot, trailhead visible from parking lot with a nice big sign. Vault toilet in lot was disgusting...bring your own TP and Purell. The first 3.25 miles along the Colorado Trail were quite pleasant. The turn off was fairly easy to find, but don’t miss it or you will continue along the Colorado Trail and never make it to Yale (consult photo #4 from Mt. Yale-East Ridge route...it looks exactly like the photo).
After leaving the forest, it got interesting for us. We were able to follow the path pretty well until about the 12,800 ft point where per the trip report is “some of the loosest terrain on this route”. “Loose” is an understatement. We had difficulty finding footholds at this point, as every step seemed to cause a rock slide. There were no cairns to mark the trail. And then, it started to hail.
Hail on Yale So now, all of the scree was wet and slippery. We all really struggled through this section.
Struggling with scree
By sheer determination, we did reach the summit, but none of us were happy. We snapped a few pics, and began to regret the descent.
At the summit
Don and Anne
Me at the Summit
Then my friend Anne had an awesome idea. “Why don’t we hike down to the Denny Creek trailhead, and I’ll run back to the car?” However, we were at the summit without any trailmaps and there was no one else there that had approached from Denny Creek. Yes, we were actually alone at the summit...pretty cool. I had turned off my iPhone, but turned it back on at this point to see if I could download the map and pics from the 14er app. Sure enough, I had service at the summit and was able to download all the pics. Thank you Verizon. We checked the compass, read the trip report, located the trail, and headed towards Denny Creek.
This trail was very pleasant the whole way. Starting at the summit heading down, the trail was easy to follow. There were plenty of cairns along the way.
Cairns would have been nice on ascent
There were wildflowers. There were rock steps. There were pica and marmot. There were log bridges over the creek. It was a beautiful hike. Anne decided to start running once we hit treeline, and Don and I had a very pleasant hike the whole way down. Once she got to the road, she booked to the car at the Avalanche trailhead. Despite the fact that she was running in hiking boots with her backpack on and a sign that said “HELP ME”, not one person offered to give her a ride. OK, just kidding about the sign, and she wouldn’t have hitchhiked anyway, so she got the car, drove it to the Denny Creek trailhead, and still had to wait on us slowpokes for 25 minutes.
Happy to be alive at the other trailhead
So, we spent 9 hours hiking Yale today. My advice: unless you are a thrill seeker or have a death wish, go with the “standard route” on this peak. I always learn something valuable on each 14er, and today I learned to always hike with someone who is in better shape than you because it is ok to be the slacker. At least you can walk the next day. Also, everything always works out OK as long as there is a hot fudge peanut butter shake from K’s at the end.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):