| Antero in October
On the first Friday in October I departed my home in the forest country of East Texas (elevation 151), bound for Colorado. I flew to my parents' home in the Texas panhandle and spent the night, and at daybreak on Saturday lifted off from Pampa. A short two hour flight from there got me to Colorado Springs, and a two hour drive in a rent car got me to Buena Vista in time for lunch.
Saturday afternoon was spent piddling around BV to get a little acclimatization in. I drove out to the Mt. Antero trail head to check it out. The weather was nice, but the forecast for Sunday called for a 40% chance of snow, or, the optimist in me would say a 60% chance of no snow.
A few sprinkles fell on my windshield on the drive to the trail head Sunday morning. The sky was overcast, and the peaks of the Sawatch mountains jutted up into the cloud base. But I had come all the way from Texas, and I determined to hike up the trail and see how far I could get.
The standard route to climb Mt. Antero is the Baldwin Creek Jeep Trail, which begins at an elevation of 9,400 feet. The road is incredibly rough and rocky. I would not attempt to drive this road in anything but a high clearance, four wheel drive vehicle.
After hiking about a mile up the trail, a light rain started to fall. And another mile up the trail the rain turned into snow. But it was a light snow, and visibility was no problem, so onward I hiked.
Three miles from the trail head, Baldwin Creek crosses the road. But a hiker can cross by stepping on rocks that are not cover by the water. This requires good balance and trekking poles. Here is a photo (of a different hiker on a different date, used with permission) showing how it is done:
Immediately after the first water crossing, a secondary trail verges to the left. I was confused and took this secondary trail for about 1/4 mile before realizing my mistake and having to retrace my steps back to the main trail.
About a mile from the first water crossing there is a second water crossing. Again, a hiker can step on rocks that are not covered by the water. And, again, good balance and trekking poles are necessary.
By this time it was snowing very steadily. I was walking on top of snow and getting snowed on, a rare experience for early October, especially for a guy from Texas. But the visibility was still decent, and the trail was well defined. So onward and upward I continued.
About a mile after the second water crossing, I was passed by a guy on a motorcycle - the trail bike variety. He didn't stop to chat. I found it convenient to step in the trail of tread marks left by his tires as I continued my climb.
Fifteen minutes or so after the motorcycle passed me, he came coasting down the trail. This time he stopped to talk. He said that above the tree line the snow was too deep for him to continue.
I pressed on, placing each step in the motorcycle's tread marks. Shortly past the tree line the tread marks stopped. To continue on would mean walking in snow above the laces of my boots. And my boots are not waterproof. I looked at my wet topographical map, and saw that I was standing 12,000 feet above the sea. I looked at my watch and saw four numbers: 12:00. It was time to turn back.
When I was piddling around in BV on Saturday, I went into a store called "The Trail Head". They cater to the hiking crowd, selling boots, maps, and stuff like that. I mentioned to the sales personnel my concern about the weather forecast, and they assured me that I would have fun even if I didn't make it all the way to the top. They were right. I absolutely loved every second of it.
They also assured me that the mountain would still be there next year. So it will. And so will I.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):