| mt of the holy cross july 3, 2005...french creek th
left the dogs at home and decided to hike mt of the holy cross fourth of july weekend. rather than face crowds i opted for the french creek approach.
woke up saturday july 2 and decided to get out of denver and hit the mountains. i made a conscious effort to not be in a hurry, let the traffic do what it will. it really didnt get too bad, and i stopped at a bunch of stores to get some gear and food.
i didnt take the jeep road to holy cross city, i accessed it via the road that takes one to the missouri lakes/fancy creek trailheads. if you have a high clearance 4wd, a winch, jacks, etc take the holy cross jeep trail to the wildnerness boundary. there are some pretty tricky spots on the road. there was a girl (erin) waiting at the parking area with a flat tire. she was waiting for her boyfriend doug, and was unsure about his exit route as he changed plans on the mountain and communicated once via cell, but no signal after that. he sounded pretty experienced and she seemed clear on the names so i hope that worked out. i changed her flat for her just in case she needed to get out of there.
so i hiked up about 2+ miles, 1,200 vert with my backpack and found a great campsite, off the trail a good ways, a nice view of hunky dory lake. just as i was picking out the spot for the tent i noticed another couple of tents had a similar idea not far from my spot. i decided to give them some privacy and shouldered my pack for another few hundred vert and about another half mile. total seclusion at tree line with incredible views all around off a cliff side. even though there was plenty of downed krummolz, i did without a fire as it was just too beautiful a spot for a fire ring. ive backpacked just about every wilderness area in colorado and holy cross wilderness is one i highly recommend.
after some sleep tried to get up at 4am but kept hitting snooze on my alarm clock. amazing how many times a person will do this rather than just resetting the thing. so i end up hitting the trail at 5:30am. i was going to do the route recommended by dawson, but as i gained the upper reaches of the basin i got a good view with the binocs of a pretty lippy cornice, looked like six to ten feet, protecting the recommended access point to holy cross ridge. oh well, even if i didnt end up summiting i would have fun hiking. then i looked at the map and decided on doing part of the halo route if i could get access on the west aspects of the tuhare lakes cirque and if the weather held.
up and over fall creek pass, down to near lake constantine, then up the tuhare lakes basin. there are endless opportunities for rock scrambling up through the lakes, lots of fun, and without the dogs, no worries. after hours of rock hopping and climbing steeply up the last 13er on the halo route, i beat the ridge up to mt of the holy cross summit, about 11:30am. it was really pretty easy but i knew i had to go all the way back. getting back down to the tuhare lakes basin wasnt fun as there was a lot of loose scree/sand/gravel and it was very steep. some people i met who came from lake constantine recommended dropping in further along the halo route, but i wasnt clear on it so i dropped in what i climbed up. turns out if i wouldve guessed i wouldve guessed wrong and gotten cliffed out.
by the time i made it to the upper tuhare lake i was spent. hiking so many hours and rock hopping in heavy mountaineering boots was wearing me down. it was great. i got back to camp at 5pm and broke the gear down and made the car about 6:30, the last couple of miles were pretty brutal.
all in all, this area is very beautiful, not crowded (once you get to the wilderness area), has fishing options and lots of climbing and hiking options. bring your dogs if someone can stay with them at camp but do not consider taking them on a summit attempt, it is just too rocky and too loose. a second nights stay would have been nice.