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 Peak(s):  La Plata Peak  -  14,336 feet
 Post Date:  08/16/2006
 Date Climbed:   08/13/2006
 Posted By:  mspalding

 La Plata Marmots & Mushrooms   

The driving took 1.5 hrs from Denver to Leadville and another hour to the trailhead. There were an amazing 15 cars parked there at 8am Sunday morning and the temperature was 11° above freezing. The weather for the entire hike was overcast and cool. A perfect day for hiking.

After the bridge over the waterfall, be sure to take the trail to the right. It goes downhill for about 15 minutes but this leads to the steep forest trail everyone talks about. The trail is awesome. Some of the rocks are fitted together as in ancient Roman streets and it is hard to imagine how the steps of stone were constructed. The forest itself is fun and amazingly beautiful. For a quarter mile of it you follow a continuous waterfall. Of course all this water means the trail and your surroundings are quite moist. I've been in rain forests with less moisture.

Apparently this is an ideal growing environment for mushrooms. Here are samples of some of the types of mushrooms along the trail. Oddly none of them had animal or insect bite marks...

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When you get to the ridge it looks like you are close, but you are only half way up. I enjoyed the trail from there up. The views were better with every step. When you get to the saddle ignore the trails going off to the right. The summit is to your left. I made it to the top by noon, but taking over 150 pictures may have slowed me down.

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As I descended back to the treeline, I saw 4 different marmots. This guy was quite curious and watched as I passed.

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I didn't know that the different colors were a male / female thing. These two were working on new marmots for next spring. The actual mating picture was blurred but this picture is from a few seconds earlier. (The female's legs are tucked up as she gallops away.)

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P.S. On previous peaks I've met hikers who don't bring water and use purification tablets as they go. This area is posted with signs warning that, because of heavy metals, pills and pumps will not work.



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