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 Peak(s):  Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
 Post Date:  07/02/2006
 Date Climbed:   07/01/2006
 Posted By:  spaceman

 Belford to Oxford and Down Elkhead Pass   

I got an early start, actually it was too early if I want breakfast in Idaho Springs as they were not even serving breakfast yet.

I hit the trail in the dark at 4:45 and started up the steep switchbacks immediately after leaving the trailhead. About 1/2 an hour in it was light enough to turn off the headlamp with the morning light. The Mt. Belford trail is extremely steep, but a very nice trail and easy to follow. As I passed the remnants of the building I saw several groups of campers getting up and packing up for their day. A little further I passed a couple who were heading up to Missouri.
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Those would be the only people I would see until after the summit of Oxford. I continued up the steep trail towards the Belford summit, reaching the summit about 8:15. I had the summit all to myself and spent about 15 minutes resting and grabbing a quick bite to eat.
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I then started over the ridge and down to the saddle between Oxford and Belford. I reached the Oxford summit at about 9:15 and relaxed under the clear blue skies for about 30 minutes, again with the summit all to myself. Looking back at Belford I could start to see a crowd forming on the summit.

I decided that it was time to head back toward the TH in case any weather started to move in. It was almost down to the saddle that I past the first of many hikers heading to Oxford. The climb back up to the ridge of Belford is cruel and unusual punishment. By the time I got back to the ridge there were some dark clouds forming over Oxford. I met a gentleman here who was coming up the Elkhead Pass trail and decided that I would descend that way for something different.
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By the time I reached the pass, I was already in the shade from the large storm forming between the mountains. By treeline I was starting to hear thunder and about 1/2 mile from the TH I saw a lightning flash that was less than a mile away.
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I picked up the pace to close to a jog and finished the hike quickly hitting the car about 12:30.

I checked the register on the way out and about 60 people had signed in after I had in the morning. I hope everybody got off the mountain safely.

I have posted more pictures at http://hiking.troyjan.com/Belford_Oxford


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


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