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This is my first trip report, so I‘m sorry if it is not up to par with some of you experts.
We, my 18 year old son and I, arrived at the trailhead right on schedule (5:30 a.m.), signed in on the register and headed out. After about ¼ mile, I was thankful that I was in decent shape because I was tired and my legs were burning already. My son and I had to take several breaks due to the incline. We crossed the bridge and found the cabin, still about half way under the snow.
We were able to avoid much post holing due to the fact we started so early. The layers we shed early on the trail, we added back the higher we got. By the time we neared timberline we had on heavy coats, gloves and hats. We set up camp in Missouri Gulch, as we planned to hike Belford and Oxford today and Missouri tomorrow. After we set up the tent we saw our only other person of the trip, a guy from Denver was also going after Oxford. He pretty much told us we were crazy to try Missouri with no equipment (ice axe, crampons, or snow shoes). From the looks of it he was right.
We finished our snack and headed on up Belford. The higher we got the windier and colder it got. About half way up the Belford switchbacks it began to snow, not really snow flakes but ice pellets. Not too pleasant on the face. We saw some big horn sheep on the ridge in the distance, which was cool to us; we never had seen them in the wild. About 10 minutes later, during a break, we heard a rock slide, thought we were about to die and 9 big horn sheep ran by right below us causing a rock slide, luckily they were below us and not above us or we would have been crushed.
I apologize for the poor picture quality and my son's finger, but the sheep are there. He said he could feel his fingers let alone get them out of the way of the camera.
After many breaks we reached the summit of Belford, by now it is a blizzard and very low visibility, 27 degrees, and wind chill in the low teens.
We could barely stand up due to the 45 mph wind gusts, so we decided against hiking the saddle to Oxford. The other hiker we talked to in the gulch was no were to be seen, the conditions were awful, I hope he made it back OK. We stayed on top as long as we could, as this was our first 14er since Yale in '01, which was a breeze compared to this.
We got back to the gulch about 1:00, had lunch and debated as to whether to stay and try Missouri the next day or go back down. About that time the wind kicked up and nearly blew our tent stakes out of the ground so we loaded up and headed back, even though the weather appeared to be clearing up on the summits.
Just to prove that nothing happens without a reason, we got back to the trailhead and headed back to town, checked in with my mother, per her request. She proceeded to tell me that my daughter was about to have surgery in Salida for an infected appendix. We made it there just in time to see her before they took her into the OR. Had the weather been bearable, we wouldn't have made it or even known anything was wrong. I've included a picture of the view from her hospital room.
Now were are all back in Texas, disappointed that we only reached 1 summitt, but thankful we are all still alive and healthy
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):