| Antero and Princeton - same day, two trailheads
My hiking buds and I left Colorado Springs at 3:00am with the goal of bagging both Mt. Antero and Mt. Princeton in the same day. Carl was a relative novice at the fourteeners and Todd and I had done a handful of them each. We're each extremely agressive hikers, runners, and have pretty high levels of fitness in general though so we were confident that our goal of two fourteeners from two different trail heads in one day was achievable.
We arrived at our final destination on the Baldwin Gulch jeep road on Antero at 6:30am after a hellatious drive up what you can barely call a road. It's one of the rougher ones that I've been on with lots of loose boulders, stream crossings, and few places for cars to pass each other. Don't even consider it unless you've got a good four wheel drive with plenty of clearance. Todd's Mercedes ML handled it like a charm and despite having 112,000 miles, it didn't even make a single creak or groan!
Antero from where we began our hike
We set out on the hike starting at an elevation of around 11,000 feet, which was as far as we could get on the road, and followed it until we could pick up the trail that would take us to the summit. There were a few patches of snow that remained in some of the gulleys but it was mostly a snow free hike. The skies were partly cloudy and the sun was just coming up. There was an inversion taking place and the whole Arkansas valley was covered in clouds below us. It made for a very pretty contrast.
The continuation of the jeep road that leads to the trail
The ridge that leads up the final ascent of Antero
After scrambling up some loose scree and doing a little bit of bouldering here and there we arrived on the summit at 8:30am. We spent a little time up there refueling and snapping a few pics but didn't want to linger too long as we knew we had another mountain that we wanted to conquer before the day was through.
The three of us on top of Antero with Princeton, where we're headed next, in the distance.
The route down was challenging as we took what appeared to be a trail but ended up being a short cut to a free for all down the side of the mountain. The scramble down the rest of the way was a lot of loose scree, bouldering, and little bit of foot skiing on some snow fields until we reconnected with the Baldwin Gulch road that would take us back to the car. We did manage to spot a few mountain goats on the way down that were off on a distant ridge thanks to a couple of ATV'ers that had stopped to watch them with their binoculars.
Skiing down a snowfield on the way down Antero
Coming down the scree to connect to the road that took us back to the car.
We made it back to the car at 10:00am with a total round trip distance of 6.05 miles. We changed a few articles of clothing, had some sandwiches and prepared ourselves for the ride down the mountain and the ride up to where we'd depart from on Princeton. The drive down was little better than the drive up but we did encounter another car coming up the road with a less than courteous driver and after much maneuvering on Todd's part with his car, we were able to get by each other and down to the bottom.
The road up to Princeton was much better than that on Antero. Far less rocks, mostly packed dirt. Many sections could be driven in a car with some careful driving but something with clearance would be preferable.
We reached the end of the line at a little over 11,000 feet at noon and got our gear on to start the climb up Princeton. We had watched clouds forming over the top of Princeton all morning and knew that there was a good chance that a thunderstorm would form and we'd have to scramble. Most of the skies were clear though so we set out on what was a trail that was much better marked than what we climbed on Antero. After a stretch the packed earth trail ended and it turned to bouldering but still well traveled and well marked.
The trail up Princeton before it turns to rock.
The trail can be faintly seen around the side of the mountain.
We'd been talking to fellow hikers along the way and learned that there had been a number of people that had followed a bad trail to the summit about halfway up. There comes a section of the trail that allows you to go straight towards the peak or guides you up along a ridge. Take the trail up to the ridge. It's less bouldering and a lot less effort!
Hiking on the ridge on the way to the summit
We were pushing the climb pretty hard because the skies kept building. About fifty feet from the summit there's a plaque for a woman that was killed there by lightening. Soon after reading it we reached the summit at 2:00pm and after standing there for all of 60 seconds heard a huge crack of thunder.
Carl and Todd on the summit for a brief few seconds
We threw on our gear and high-tailed it out of there! We knew we had at least three miles of hiking down where we were exposed above tree line and understood the risks of being on a fourteener in a thunderstorm. We pretty much ran down the rest of the mountain getting chased by thunder the whole way. On the way down we passed other hikers and tried to warn them of the impending danger. We passed one family that blew our minds. They were at least another hour to an hour and a half from the summit judging by the speed of their progress. The father had a baby on his back and was hiking with a four year old. It was thundering all around them and they were still going up! We were at a loss for words.
Todd with the car in sight.
We made it back to the car at 3:00pm with a total round trip length of 5.79 miles on Princeton. We were pretty well exhausted but happy that we accomplished our goal of two independent fourteeners in one day. All in all I enjoyed the hike on Princeton more than Antero even though it was a little more grueling. The ride up on the road was definitely easier too. There's no such thing as a bad fourteen though and we're already beginning to think ahead to which one's to tackle next!
A friendly marmot that greeted us at the car.
The GPS track log of Antero from my Explorist 600
The GPS track log of Princeton from my Explorist 600
Total miles covered – 11.84
Total time spent hiking – 6 ˝ hours
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