TH: 5:45 AM
SUMMIT: 9:30 AM
LEAVE SUMMIT: 10:00 AM
RETURN TO TH: 1:30 PM
After the torrential rains the state has recieved this mid-September, I was curious just what the conditions up near Mt. Evans were. Hoping for the best, I left Boulder at 4 in the morning and began driving up Guanella pass to the trailhead.
Early morning leaving the TH
This is the first trip report I've submitted to this site. The memory of a late friend has encouraged me to get out and hike more; you never know how long you are going to be able to get out and appreciate our beautiful state, and there is really no other feeling like hiking at altitude and looking over the beauty around us. It looks like I've caught the 14er bug like the rest of us.
Being that it was Sunday, of course there were people up here already, and as it would turn out there would be the usual horde of people climbing Bierstadt, but when I left the Bierstadt Trail to hike to Evans, I found myself alone.
The sunrise view over the Sawtooth
The "trail" through the bushes actually is a trail in some parts, but be warned that like the route description says, there is still a lot of off-trail hiking on this route.
Sometime the trail through the bushes is obvious, as it is in this picture
For the most part the of-trail section follows Scott Gomer Creek up to the gully. Although on this hike it was more like Scott Gomer Marsh... When you approach the gully this is where the fun begins: there is a loose trail up almost the whole thing, but I chose to scramble up rocks in the center for the most part. It's not very difficult but like any gully, one has to be aware of loose rocks, and it is steep enough that a rock knocked loose would roll way down it.
Some views up and down the gully:
Looking up halfway through
Looking down about halfway through
After the gully the trail disappears and one hikes on flatter terrain until reaching the long summit ridge, which has fun hiking on a cairned trail. At this point I was pretty tired, and the wind started to seriously chill the air. By the time I got to the summit it must have been 25 degrees but the wind chill made it feel more like 0. Whatever it was it must have been below 32, since it began to snow when I was on the summit!
The summit comes into view
Looking over Denver
The back view of Bierstadt and the Sawtooth
Luckily for me the snow was very light and it did not stick. Some of the rocks down the gully had black ice over them, coming from the spray from the stream / waterfall that runs down the gully. Be aware if you are hiking this later this month or in October. Coming back down into the marsh the snow turned into rain. Getting back to the trailhead through the marsh was ... wet.
As far as difficulty goes i would call this an average class 2 hike, but the RT mileage is probably more like 9-10 miles, not 8.5, simply because its unlikely one is going to traverse the marsh in a straight line.
This is the most difficult hike I've done by far, but it was rewarding. If you can hike Bierstadt you can, with determination, hike this. Looking to hike La Plata sometime soon, still pushing the boundaries of how much I can do in a day, working up to some of the class 3 and 4 hikes I really want to do someday.
To close, a picture of the beautiful aspen that line Guanella pass, with fall colors coming in
The Aspen on Guanella Pass