| Evans-guanella pass-gully
The plan was to take the family backcountry camping below Mount Evans via the Bierstadt/Evans trailhead at Guanella Pass starting on Tuesday June 26. We would camp the first night, I would climb Evans, Sawtooth, Bierstadt on the 27th, camp that night and hike out the following day.
Enter the weather!
Thunderstorms were rolling in by 11:00 am so we decided to wait a day and camp below the pass in one of the established pay campsites. We waited out the rest of the day in and out of the tent.
The morning of the 27th we started our hike towards the base of the gully on the west slopes of Evans.
It started out great, we hopped over the creek, and turned left after the large bolder and began our bushwaking through the willows. This turned out to be the worst part of the trip for my boys and my better half. While the willows do not scratch, they are difficult to navigate through and with the wet and sloppy conditions, in concert with some poor navigation (you really should stay within 200 feet or so of the creek) decisions on my part, the hike was very difficult and my family was clearly not very happy with me. It also helps to be over 6 feet tall as opposed to a nats‘ hair over 4 feet!
After about three and a half hours we found a spot to camp that was perfect for a three day stay. Things began to look up!
The site was quite nice, level and plenty of water with views that were fantastic 360 degrees. If you come this way, look for the large shoals above the first large beaver pond.
The following morning I left the campsite at 5:30 and headed for the gully. It was a beutiful morning and I made it to the bottom of a long snowfield at around 6:30. It was hard packed so I whipped out the crampons and axe and climbed up. This was awsome and I made quick work out of it.
Looking up the snow field within the gully
Looking down the snow field within the gully
The snow field was short compared to the length of the gully but it was worth carrying the crampons and axe. I made the top of the gully around 8:30. The trail seemed to stay on the left side of the water flow past the snow field.
I headed for the west ridge. This took longer than expected. I think I shot my wad on the gully because I began to get really tired. When I reached the West end of the west ridge it was 9:30.
I reached the summit at around 10:30 way off my schedule (the last part of this hike, the final mile, really kicked my arse. It was clear to me at that point that my plans to traverse the sawtooth and over to Bierstadt were in jeopardy. I was whipped and also noticed clouds were moving in. And that was putting if mildly.
The guy that took my picture on the summit saw me write in the register and asked me what it was. I explained to him and he began to sign in as well. I got a kick out of that and told him he should post his trip report on 14ers. I figured it would go something like this:
I cranked up the ol‘ 6 cylinder minivan around 10:00 and headed up the blacktop, uh, I mean trail head...
Back to earth,
At 11:30 or 12:00... it hit the fan. Out of nowhere a huge dark cloud appeared from over the ridge to the north. I was of course on the south side and didn‘t see it coming. I had take cover and assume the possition under the cover of some large rocks as thunder and lightening zipped in the air. I had just past out onto the west slope from the south side and I could see a couple standing on the sawtooth at this time. It supprised them too as I could see them making a dash for the gully. It is really amazing how fast this happened. I was being extremely aware of the conditions (so I thought) but it didn‘t help as this storm took me by total suprise. When it broke, I too made a dash for the gully and could see the couple ahead of me about half way down. I felt safe at this point and began to enjoy myself again.
As I made my way down the gully, I chose to glassad (spelling ?) down the snow fields. This was totally awsome and again, made quick time of that section.
Once back at the campsite around 2:00, I shared the hike with the fam, they shared their day, we ate dinner, watched the sun go down and let the storm throw its weight around. We had it all. Rain, snow, sleet, hail. The REI half dome did its trick though.
and then the sun came out and cast it light on the sawtooth. Cool!
The next morning we gathered our goods and hit the trail. This was a great experience for all of us. I learned about the quickness of the storms approach, the boys learned how strong they are, and my wife showed that she is a champ and can handle it all. We made fast time out of the Willows on the return trip as my navigation had improved and everyone worked better with first hand knowledge and experience of trail finding through the willows.
The bad times through the willows was all but a fart in the wind and everyone gave the trip an overwhelming thumbs up. Halfway back to the primary trail we encountered a Moose. It must have only been 1 or 2 years old. It had a small set of antlers and was fairly small in comparison to a full grown male. He was a bit silly too as he escaped our view, then stopped and looked, escaped, stopped, escaped.... He was a trip. Most folks from around here tell me it was extremely rare to have seen this moose and questioned whether or not it was actually a moose or an elk. I may be from Georgia, but I can tell the diffence between a deer, elk and moose. It was a great sighting. We felt like we were on top of the world as we entered the parking lot at the end of the hike.
And that champ of a wife says, "Oh look dear we have cold..... Beer!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):