| Oxford, Belfod, Missouri from Pine Creek TH
Our trip started at 11am, Saturday 8/12/06, at the Pine Creek Trailhead. After paying the private property entrance fee ($1/person + $2/dog = $4 for me, my wife and our dog) we were on our way to Little Johns Cabin. The hike to Little Johns Cabin is approx 7.2mi and took us 3.5 hrs w/ backpacking packs. Directly behind Little Johns Cabin are some wonderful camping sites, and since we were the only ones there we had the whole place to ourselves. Solitude is the main reward for doing a less popular, more strenuous route. That afternoon we enjoyed the surroundings: multiple abandoned log cabins, mine shafts and the beautiful meandering Pine Creek. This drainage is a beautiful, secluded place and I highly recommend it for just an overnight backpack or peak bagging experience (4 peaks realistically accessible from a multi day camp at Little Johns Cabin –Oxford, Belford, Missouri and Harvard).
Little Johns Cabin
Another mining cabin along the south shore of Pine Creek w/ Oxford's south slopes in the background
On Sunday morning, 8/13/06, we woke-up at 4am, ate some oatmeal and started hiking with headlamps at 5am. The image below is a topo map with our route highlighted in red. Also, the red X denotes our starting point at Little Johns Cabin.
The ascent up Oxford's south slope begins only 100 yards (or so) west of Little John's cabin. After the 1st stream crossing (when starting from Little Johns Cabin) there is a small cairn on the north side of Pine Creek Trail that designates where your bush whacking begins.
When bush whacking up to tree-line, ascend the small right just west of the stream. Note: Keep close to the stream until you reach tree-line. Once you reach tree-line the ridge becomes more defined and easier to follow. This was a fairly grueling bush whack and slog to the summit. It took us 3 hrs to reach Oxford's summit from Little John's Cabin (bush whacking in the dark and climbing on wet rock with wet hiking boots).
The traverse from Oxford to Belford took 1hr (on a well defined trail), and we reached Belford's summit at 9am.
This photo shows Missouri Mountain from Belford's summit. Elkhead Pass is also visible.
Without taking much rest time at either summit, we proceeded down Belford's west shoulder (NOT the standard West Slopes Route). The West Shoulder route is listed in Roach's 14er book as route 13.1V1. This descent route took us directly to the start of the standard route up Missouri's Northwest Ridge. Before we started our last ascent of the day, we took a well deserved lunch break at 9:30am. It was an early lunch, but very much needed as the oatmeal breakfast only lasts so long.
This photo is of my wife Kacy, after lunch and before our final ascent up Missouri. Missouri Mountain is in the background.
We started the final slog up Missouri, re-fueled, at 10am. It took 1.5 hrs to reach the summit, and by that time I was totally wasted. We crashed on the summit, took some Excedrin (I knew I would need it for the 13 mile hike back to the TH) and were on our way after a few snacks. The return route to Little Johns Cabin was beautiful and totally secluded. Unfortunately, the hike back to Little Johns (from Missouri's summit) was 5.8 miles which is only a prelude to the 7.2 mile backpack out. The hike down Upper Pine Creek Drainage is stunning. Redrock Falls is beautiful, and looks very similar to a natural "sliding rock". The upper falls are wide, gently sloping, smooth rocks that mimic a water slide. If we weren't push for time, a couple of slides down Redrock Falls could have been fantastic. Anyhow, we reached our camp by 2:30pm, packed, rested and were back on the trail by 3:30pm.
Our camp directly behind Little Johns Cabin. A wonderful spot with a fire ring, flat sitting benches (logs) and lots of fantastic flat camping spots!
The 7.2 mile hike out took 2.5 hours, and most of the time was spent watching the trail, trying not to sprain an ankle. Hiking poles RULE, don't leave home w/o them. Although the length warrants a 2 to 3 day backpacking trip, I highly recommend the Pine Creek approach to the Belfod group. We had seen approx 20 people on the standard routes throughout the day, but we were totally secluded while in the Pine Creek Drainage. Did I mention we were back in the car by 6:00pm and eating dinner at K's in Buena Vista by 7pm? Gotta love those burgers, fries and milkshakes!!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):