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Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Post Date:  07/21/2008
Modified:  07/23/2008
Date Climbed:   07/12/2008
Posted By:  bergsteigen


 Lots ‘O Rocks on Princeton   

My first 14er since moving back to Colorado from Alaska. Quite the altitude and climate switch!

I had intended to use the alternate route up Mt Princeton, but the "no camping" signs abounded on the road to the Grouse Creek trail head, as well as at the turn to the trail head. So I decided to go back to the Mt Princeton road. After reading the guidebooks about how narrow the road is and the lack of turn-outs, I decided that I did not want to risk my still 'young' truck, especially in the dark. So I camped out in back to get a few hours of sleep, before an early rise.

Starting a little before 5am, the hike up the road was easy, even without a headlamp. Sunrise occurred just as I was getting my first view of Tigger Peak.
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Was passed by quite a few vehicles on the way up, and even one going down. Saw no other hikers of the road. Passed by the radio towers to see a few campers just getting ready to go, and some of the vehicles that passed me.

Up a little ways, got the first view of the prize at the end of the trail.
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Nearing the transition from road to trail, while not obvious from a distance, is pretty clear up close. Thanks to those who built the steps! (Trail turns right before the terrain turns to rocks - in photo)
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A nice trail awaits, for a short distance, before a boulder field all the way to the summit!
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While taking a rest before the boulder field, a curious lil ground squirrel seemed rather interested in me. (Or maybe what food I might have in my pack ;)
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The lower section of boulder field trail is mostly obvious, though a few sections are a little obscure. Some areas have had rock slides covering the trail. Like the huge rocks in the bottom of the photo below.
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Once up on the ridge, you get rewarded with a spectacular view of Mt Antero.
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The trail from here is basically along the ridge, though this is NOT obvious. Multiple cairns litter the slope and lead to much confusion and discussion amongst all those hiking. From those I talked to, the ridge is easier, with smaller boulders, while lower down the rocks become rather large, and travel slower.
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I reached the summit a bit before noon, later than desired, but the skies were still clear. Met up with Dave, Dave and Aaron on top. Two grandparents and their grandson, that I hiked down with. Aaron encouraged everyone up the last section of trail, and brought a smile after all the work of summiting.

View of Harvard, Columbia and Yale to the north, and one with me, happy to be on the summit ;)
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A group that had used the alternate trail and mentioned how difficult it was. Looking at the ridge they followed, I can believe it!
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Looking back down the trail and at the ridge to Tigger Peak, I can see the lower trail that is not advised in books and from other hikers, very clearly. While the ridge trail is not really visible at all. The top section near the summit has become quite eroded, with many trails going all over. Multiple trails meet up with the lower trail section, leading many the tired altitude addled hiker to want to reach the lower elevation trail, rather than stay with the ridge (due to the difficult route finding). I stayed on the ridge with Aaron and Dave, while the other Dave went the other way.
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After what seemed like a very long time, we reached the nice trail, and said a very loud good-by to the boulder field. A lot more tiring than I had expected. Thankfully, I was invited to ride down with my just met friends to the lower trail head. As I was exhausted, I accepted the reduction of 3.5 miles from my trip.

At the radio towers we saw a truly awe inspiring sight. A Toyota passenger car (Corrolla?) going up further than the towers! After reading previous trip reports, mentioning how some Subaru's made it up, I though this would be worth mentioning. Of course, the car looked like it wouldn't matter if it got a little more damaged by the trip...

On the way down we met a jeep coming up. After some shifting, as well as holding up the jeep (to keep it from sliding onto the car), as it passed by us on a considerable incline, we were free. I wish now that I took a photo, as this was the reason I left my truck at the bottom. Of course it seems that on this day, I was the only one to be that careful with my vehicle. The Subaru I was riding down in did an amazing double teeter-tauter maneuver over a rough spot in the road that miraculously did not cause any underside damage. Would have made a funny video!

Over-all not a bad re-introduction to the high peaks of Colorado!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions
Yog


Nice report &..     08/28/2008 00:37
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