| Mt. Yale - From Denny Creek, Big D‘oh Climb
I knew going into it this one was technically harder than our last. Though all in all it wasn't bad, I learned one thing that is probably obvious to most everyone else. READ OTHERS' REPORTS (which I did) AND REMEMBER THEIR SUGGESTIONS (which I did not)!
We rolled out of town headed for the mountains on Friday a little later than I would have liked, about 5 or 5:30, which put us in our campground (Collegiate Peaks, near the trail head) just as the sun was going down. Not much time to enjoy ourselves as we had to set up camp, eat, prepare our gear for tomorrow, etc. but still got to bed early enough for the 4am wake up call…ugh…
Let me take a moment and thank the camping gear gods for the invention of the most wonderfulest of all the gear out there, the jetboil. In a few minutes flat we had boiling hot water for the frechpress coffee to warm our cold selves. If you have the means I highly suggest picking one up.
Got up and going on the trail at about 5:15am. About 5 cars in the lot already but I don't think they were on the trail yet. Maybe two groups ahead of us. Cold day, started in the low 30's then dropped to the 20's as the sun came up (how the heck does THAT work). The black mutt was much colder on this one – she's not all lab for those following along at home, something skinnney like whippet or greyhound. We got the fleece on her under her pack and her booties and she was good to go.
I enjoy this hike a whole lot. Within the forest it's pretty varied and beautiful. You make your way thru pine trees, then lots of aspen, then the pretty creek crossings. We came across a well used camping area with about 3 or 4 fire rings about a mile or so in. Mistake number #1 was not reading the route close enough (enough though we had it with us?) and we wandered around the camping area looking for the trail out until another group came upon us and knew the trail didn't go thru it.. Whoops…
The trail doesn't get too steep until near treeline then it juts up something fierce. There are parts were you can lose footing and slide about 5 or 10 feet. Coming down this part in between treeline and the saddle was rough going as the other half GatorChick is having quite the problem descending these days. The elderly guy passing us was worse than the jeans wearing tourists last week on Elbert…. We're working on it….
The saddle is a great spot to pause and regroup. Met two great guys from New Mexico who shared some good stories with us from other hikes. Other than the views, I think I enjoy the people you meet so much on these mountains. Something about these somewhat sacred places that brings out the best of people, I love it.
Now I must admit mistake number 2. When leaving the saddle to begin the scrambling section. We let a group go in front of us to check it out and help report the best route for the mutt (still newbies here, mind you). After starting up they thought a few of the jumps up between rocks were going to be tough for Maddie and they spotted somewhat of a trail further over to the east side. Now in hindsight I remember many peoples reports saying to stay to the west as it's much easier. So we headed over to the east side trying to find this worn in trail. It kept getting looser and looser. I pictured hanging on the side of this cliff with the mutt dangling below me only held up her by the leash. Well that didn't happen but a few close calls of a few slides did. Well we made it – but many lessons learned both about remembering tips and what terrain is a good idea to take her on. I know we're overprotective and all, but I don't think I'm going over any more class 2+ or 3 with her.
We made it to the top and took quite the 30 minute break I think. Met some more great people including a super nice Chiropractor from Boulder who just loved all over maddie. I could tell the mutt was feeling the hike today as she'd even been acting odd the day before, and went number two a few more times than normal so far. So I took out a few extra pieces of clothes I had and she promptly made a bed for herself and passed out. This is on the summit mind you. Dog's gotta be having a bad day when she does that!
A peanut butter sandwich down the hatch, some more summit pictures taken and we were off. This time from the top you have a good vantage of the best route to take. And I finally did recall the suggests of the western route so we headed that way with almost no problems. I totally think the mutt could tell she was in somewhat dangerous terrain because she was listening to every verbal command I gave about wait, go, that way, pause, left/right, etc.. It was great.. I had to pick her up and over a large drop about 3 times when we lost the trail but it wasn't any trouble. Totally different terrain than the other side.
Going down was uneventful, but so much better than my first, Elbert. Not only is it prettier, but once you get past the really steep stuff it's much more varied and easier on your body. Even with poles Elbert is unrelenting. We met a few more people going up, everyone loving all over maddie. One couple even wanted to take a picture of me and maddie. She's famous. Eventually we decided to take her pack off as I think it was bothering her today. No worries, Maddie, everyone has their off days.
All in all, definitely a few hard lessons learned today. No broken bones or blood shed so it's still all good. I would really suggest this hike to newbies and touristy types up until the saddle for sure. Great views of all the peaks in the neighborhood, I love it.
Link to jen's flickr photos
More of my pictures on flickr
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