| Uncompahgre Peak - Nellie Creek
Uncompahgre Peak- South Ridge from Nellie Creek
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet
Start Time: 5 a.m. End Time: 10 a.m. (hike time- 4 hours with an hour summit)
Round Trip: 8 Miles
Hiked by: Rick and Jen Kane
After a day of resting and camping at Grizzly Gulch TH (the spot up on the hill) we packed up and drove up the very tricky 4WD road to Nellie Creek TH. Weather was brewing up, so we hoped to pitch our tent quickly for a warm and DRY shelter. Caution- if you don't have a good clearance 4WD vehicle, park at the bottom of the road and hike in. Our Isuzu Rodeo scraped down several times on the man-made wash outs. It helped to ride the walls of the road to get the right tire up high. On our true Rodeo drive in we spotted a Fourteeners Initiative camp- what a cool summer job!
After setting up camp just a few hundred feet below TH we spotted a large buck and two does munching away at some grass.
The deep forest was lush and full of life. We took our dogs for a short walk to check out maps at TH and walk a few more hundred feet to catch a glimpse of the colossal giant we call Uncompahgre. What an impressive mountain. Again, wildflowers are in full bloom here.
The next morning we shot out of bed and hit the trail, more energized than usual. We saw two head lamps ahead about a mile. The trail begins very mild and continues to course its way up, around and into the meadow.
Without a doubt- all the restoration projects have paid off on this trail that is clearly marked, easy to climb and beautiful. The southwest route is mellow following the creek and allowing views of the massive peak from many angles.
As we neared the top of the basin we passed a guy, his sister and their dog. I guess this was her second 14er and she hadn't climbed since she was 9. Even still, she chugged right along. We caught the east side of the South Ridge and reached the crest of this slope after a few switchbacks. Upon trickier terrain, we chose to veer left of a long, slender column.
Apparently this was a more gradual way with switchbacks and only minor scrambling. There were some slick spots due to mud requiring a little extra attention.
Otherwise the rest of the trail was straightforward and basically a 20 % grade of easy footing and loose rock to the top. It is quite breathtaking to reach summit and realize, when looking over the inverted walls, it's a HUGE drop off. We had fun perching ourselves in different spots to feel the true height. Views of Wetterhorn are exceptional from here.
The only drawback to this hike was finding an Aquafina bottle at the top.
This is pathetic for a few reasons- first, buy a frickin Camelback or bring large water jugs for Christ's sake; second, if you are lame enough to bring disposable water bottles, don't leave them in such a pristine place. Pick up your trash tourists!!!
It's one place where wilderness is at its best. Enough about that! Fortunately, this mountain ranked itself as a top 5 for us and we can see coming back for a repeat hike. We thanked the 14er Initiative workers that were grueling on the switchbacks below. It's easy to forget that without this upkeep there wouldn't be the great trails we hike and have come to love so much. The native butterflies were swarming about on our hike down.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):