| Tour de Massive - North Halfmoon Lakes
After hiking Challenger, Kit Carson, Belford and Oxford with CODave on July 1 and 2, I planned to meet Roozers42 (Jennifer) and her husband Scott to hit Mt. Massive‘s 14K summits on July 3rd. Jennifer, Scott and I have been hiking together frequenty and always have a great time.
I woke at 0400 on the 3rd and drove from Leadville to Jen and Scott‘s campsite on the Halfmoon Creek Road. From there we were able to drive to about halfway between the South Halfmoon TH and the North Halfmoon TH in their Subara Legacy. However, I would recommend no sedans past the South Halfmoon TH.
From our parking spot we hiked up the remaining quarter mile of road to reach the North Halfmoon TH at 0530. There is one slightly knarly section on this road, but most 4x4 trucks and SUVs, skillfully driven, should be able to make it to the upper parking at the North Halfmoon TH.
The 1.5 mile hike through the forest to the turnoff for the standard direct south route (see the route description on this site) to Mt. Massive was easy and on good trail. As we were planning to do all of Massive‘s 14K summits, we continued past the trail junction for another 1.25 miles to reach North Halfmoon Lakes. From there, we followed the west route to the saddle between North Mt Massive and Mt Massive. Although the route was well cairned until 13,400, from there it was a hellish scree ascent on loose scree, gravel, wet dirt and some new snow from the previous day. The final 700 feet to the saddle was a struggle for us all, but I reached the saddle well before Jen and Scott.
Our crew at North Halfmoon Lakes below North Massive (not in foreground):
Clouds had been around all morning, and more were building. I decided that I better make a run on North Massive (14,320) and Northwest Massive (14,169) if I wanted them. I scrambled up to North Massive and took some photos. Then I made the half mile dash to NW Massive and took one photo. Turning to head back to North Massive I heard the first roll of thunder to the north. I figure it was only maybe 1030. I made quick progress back to North Massive, but without a viable traverse, I was forced to climb back over it. Now I was getting tired. The 17,000 foot weekend was wearing me out…
TalusMonkey on North Massive - view south:
As I came back over North Massive and back to the saddle without seeing Jen and Scott, I figured that they had made the correct decision to head directly for Mount Massive‘s primary peak (14,421). As I struggled along trying to beat the storm, I saw someone sitting on Massive and thought I might be Scott. Sure enough, as I staggered up toward the summit, Scott shouted some words of encouragement. After making the summit, Jen, Scott and I got another group to take our photo and then we started down. Although the sky was still pretty bright (white), thin clouds were continuing to drift over the summit and there was occassional thunder around.
Roozers42, Scott and TalusMonkey on summit of Massive:
Jen and Scott intended to descend immediately and I made a dash over to South Massive (14,132). On South Massive I waited for 10 minutes for some thin clouds to clear from Massive‘s summit so I could get a photo of myself with Massive and the ridge to South Massive in the background. After taking this photo, and several photos of some friendly marmots, I smoked back down to the Massive/South Massive saddle and made a speed descent via the old trial.
The hell spawn demon marmot about to pounce on me:
TalusMonkey on South Massive (14,132) with ridge to Massive in background:
The old trail dissipated at about 13,400 and from there I made a grass traverse down a drainage generally toward the new CFI trail. At about 13,000 I there was a VERY LOUD clap of thunder up above the summit. I shook my fist at the sky and congratulated myself on beating the weather gods.
As I joined the new CFI trail I was surprised to pass a solo hiker and another couple STILL climbing toward the summit – still at only perhaps 12,500 – better them than me! I hustled down to the junction with the North Halfmoon Lakes trail and picked up the pace as rain began to fall.
Although I expected to find Jen and Scott waiting in the car, I reached the car at about 1330 and Jen and Scott were nowhere to be seen. I waited in the rain, too lazy to put on raingear. At about 1400 Jen and Scott arrived at the car. Unfortunately, they ended up off course on their descent and ended up all the way back at North Halfmoon Lakes! They had to hike 2.5 miles back to the car on the North Halfmoon Lakes trail.
We drove back to their camp and said our farewells (I had to return a rental car before 1800). Despite the weather, we had achieved our goals and had a great time hiking together again! We‘re planning to do Holy Cross this weekend…
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):