| Handies - Grizzly Gulch
Handies Peak- East Slopes from Grizzly Gulch
Elevation Gain: 3,650 feet
Start Time: 4:45 a.m. End Time: 10:00 a.m. (hike time- 4 hrs; a bit over an hour summit)
Round Trip: 8 Miles
Hiked by: Rick and Jen Kane, no dogs on this early a.m. trip
This began our San Juan voyage (part two) for this summer. As much as we've always identified ourselves as winter hikers, it seems we're on a role this summer. Handies makes our 10th climb for the summer, and as the reports to follow show we squeezed 4 peaks in this trip (over 5 days). What better place to camp/hike/relax/enjoy wild life than the San Juan's?
Because the hike from Grizzly Gulch is an easy trail to follow, I will keep this somewhat brief with pictures that illustrate far more. We started bright and squirrelly early with no coffee (more disappointing for Jen than Rick) because it takes too damn long to boil. Although it's always hard to wiggle out of that warm sleeping bag it sure feels great to hit the trail early with the dew on the ground, smells ripe and not a soul in sight.
Rick spotted two golden eyes, though, peering through the bushes at the onset of the trek. Stopping in our tracks we didn't want our head lamps to spook whatever animal was lurking near. Another hiker (a man from Grand Junction area) caught up with us as we slowed our pace. Rick suspected it may be a bear, so we took a look at the area on our descent to find many turned over, shredded logs- a clear sign of bear territory.
The hike through the forest kept us huffing a bit, but we kept at a good pace. Once the sun rose we were blasted with the sight of the brilliant green meadow bursting with wildflowers of every kind and color.
The stream and light wind kept the air fresh and it felt great to be in this area again (with an entirely new season to enjoy).
Crossing over the stream a few times was made easy and we reached the base of the North Ridge fairly quickly. Here Rick spotted a fox too quick for a snap shot. The push up the steeper slope kept us sweating… then a false summit brought a big humph, sigh, groan, but the final ascent along the ridge went very quickly and we made it to summit in about 2.5 hours.
This allowed us a long rest …we marveled at the phenomenal views of the majority of Colorado's 14ers- at least the most stunning ones! We thought aloud…Red Cloud/ Sunshine- we hit those just over a month ago; Wetterhorn/ Uncompahgre- hope to hike those this trip; Sneffels- yep we climbed that in the snow in late May. Will we climb the Wilson group? Windom/Sunlight/Eolus? Hope so!
The hike down was spent stopping to smell the Columbine's, snap photos of the stream and soak up the rays.
So satisfying to be up and back before noon. A long nap at our campsite never felt better!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):