| Fall Colors on La Plata
Fall colors on the way to La Plata!!!
The weekend started out undetermined. My sister and I tossed around ideas of how to enjoy the fall colors. I knew from a previous trip that the fall colors by Twin Lakes were in their prime, and what better way to enjoy the trees, but from a summit view. So, it was decided La Plata was our destination. Our sisterly bonding day was set.
We awoke bright and early and were on the trial by 6:00am. It was a chilly 34 degrees outside and Sheryl was bundled up for the hike!
Sheryl getting ready to start the adventure
I had the route information all ready to go, but unfortunately, or absentminded of me, I left the information behind. I knew the turn off to the trailhead was just around the corner from the parking lot, but Sheryl and I got to be a little too chatty and missed the turnoff. Plus being in the dark didn't really help. I finally looked down at my GPS and realized we had to of missed the turn. We back tracked, by this time dawn was approaching and we found the trail! So, official we started on the trail at 7:02am. The trailhead is only ¼ of a mile from CO82 on the left. Look for a huge sign on the dirt road that warns people not to drink the water.
The trail starts by crossing over South Fork Lake Creek. Since there is an extremely high amount of mineral content in the water, the stream looks orange. The orangish rust color went well with the fall colors.
South Fork Lake Creek Waterfall
The trail continues through a grove of Aspen tree then crosses a two log bridge that goes over La Plata Gulch. I got a glimpse of the morning light on the apposing mountain side and took numerous pictures of the aspens. Along with aspens, the foliage along the stream were also a beautiful yellow color.
Aspens along the apposing ridge. Stream running alongside the trail.
The trail turns into some very nice steps that continue alongside the gulch. We continued through the steep steps and got nice views of the sun rising on apposing hillsides. Once through the steps we came out into the La Plata gulch.
Immediately we were treated to the view of Mt. Sayres -13, 738 with a fresh coat of snow on it. It was perfectly framed in the valley. Below the foliage was orange and red foliage, it was a great contrast and exemplified a Colorado Fall.
Hill at end of valley with fresh snow.
The trail breaks away from the gulch to steep switchbacks along the hillside. In the morning the warm sun was bright on the apposing hillside aspens.
Sheryl Climbing the many steep switchbacks
At the top of the switchbacks the trail flattens out on a ridge. From here you can see Ellingwood ridge and your first glimpse of the summit.
Saddle below La Plata view of Ellingwood Ridge
The latest storm left snow along the talus field to the summit. Since the trip was a little impromptu, we didn't pack gators, but the snow wasn't deep enough to warrant them yet. We followed footprints from earlier hikers which took us around to the northeastern part of the mountain. I don't believe we stayed on the trail, but we weren't going to try and break trail ourselves. It wasn't exactly the path of least resistance, but it sure did get us there.
Sis going up towards snowfield
Last climb through Talus
The temperature atop was a little chilly, so we didn't stay too long. Just long enough to get a few summit shots. We arrived at 10:30, so it took us roughly 3 ½ hours to summit. Pretty decent considering I stopped every 20 yrds to take pictures.
Sheryl and I – La Plata 14, 361
View from summit
Sheryl was eager to get out of the wind, so we began our descent quite soon. Once we got out of the snow field and back on the ridge, we took a few minutes to enjoy the view and the colors from atop. The day's weather was holding out pretty good, there were no grimacing clouds in the horizon. Since both of us have problems with knees, we took some time ascending. Once again, I stopped every 20 yards to take pictures.
View of Sayres coming down
Gulch with Aspens
View of Aspens from Trail
Last Look at La Plata
South Fork Lake Creek Road on way down
Aspens on apposing hillside during hike down
We ended up back at the trailhead right when the clouds started to roll in. It was perfect timing! All in all it was a great fall hike with colors abundant.
Me and Sheryl at Trailhead
So, if anyone wants to do a beautiful fall 14er, I would highly suggest La Plata!
(Scooter, here it is! Told ya! Thanks for going Sheryl Love You)