| Square Top Mountain (13794‘)
Quick summary: The Guanella Pass road from Georgetown was no problem, just some potholes and a little washboarding. The route: lots of it is easy class 2, but it was tougher class 2 (steep) for about three hundred feet on the more northerly route. Wind was variable throughout the hike, sometimes kicking up around forty miles per hour, other times nearly calm. The day started nearly cloudless, and the cumulus didn't even start to bulk up til we were done.
We parked close to the trailhead more commonly associated with Mount Bierstadt, and got underway in the opposite direction at 8:15 am. Here's a distance shot of Sqaure Top Mountain.
Square Top Mountain has willows, but they're not in the way like they are on the other side of the road.
Early on the trail, we saw these tubular mounds of dirt. Anyone know what they are? I've seen 'em several times. They look like thick ropes of dirt, somehow I think a rodent must be involved.
Square Top Mountain can be done as a loop. We took the higher branch up. The trail quickly became hard to see, but the going was easy. We did find this one cairn, but either we got way off route, or there was no obvious trail on this, the more northerly approach.
When we reached the ridge, we could see that the other side was steep; down below was a lake and across the way was Otter Mountain.
Farther away, and to the left, was Argentine Peak and Wilcox Mountain.
After an hour or so we reached this alpine table meadow. There's great views of Bierstadt (R) and Spaulding (L) from Square Top; you can see part of the Sawtooth Ridge, and Evans (M) can be seen poking up behind.
Up above we could see the steepest terrain we would cover that day.
I saw a nice chunk of quartz.
Getting near the top of the steepest section of this ridge, we had to cross this small snow field. This was a little dicey, because the snow was soft, deep in some places (I went in up to my waist once), fairly steep, and the ground downslope from the snow looked like loose, kinda steep, small rock.
We reached the summit at 11:45. It didn't look really square, but it was large and pretty flat.
There were two other people there, the first we'd seen, a couple of guys who looked well into their sixties, who took our picture.
We came down farther south and west, which leads you near the top of the major notch in the mountain and just below the lakes. You can step carefully over to the edge of a substantial drop and take a look at the lakes way below. The larger of the two had plenty of ice still floating in it, and a nice dark green color overall.
Down near the lakes, the trail became very obvious. There were more people down here, four groups, some with kids. Below the lakes, some trail sections were covered with water from runoff, but nothing you couldn't rock-hop.
We got back to the car at 12:45 pm, making it 4 ½ hours round trip.
On the drive back we stopped in Idaho Springs for iced coffee and a bite at a place I'd not noticed before, called Aimee's Café. Really nice, calm, friendly help, good food and coffee, but they close at 3 pm on weekends.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):