| Keller Mountain loop
6:10am: Rock Creek TH, 9500'
9:55am: Keller Mtn, 13085'
1:30pm: Rock Creek TH
approx 10.3mi/3900‘/7hr 20min
Layne Bracy, Jamie Princo, Bryan Shepherd, Sarah Thompson
Keller Mountain's east ridge
Bryan, Jamie and I hoped our start was early enough to beat any thunderstorms. We hiked up the trail under a cloudy but quiet sky, reaching the Boss Mine area. We followed a trail north past the mine, and when the trail petered out we had light bushwhacking to reach Keller's east ridge.
Keller's false summits(left, center) and true summit(right)
As we broke out of the trees we met up with Sarah and continued up to the first false summit.
The difficulties after the second false summit
After the second false summit, some route-finding and scrambling is required. Bryan and I tended to skirt the ridge, running into some loose, wet terrain. Sarah and Jamie stayed more atop the ridge, apparently the better choice.
Bryan nears the top.
Bryan had left Tennessee 4 days ago, but the altitude posed little problem. He summitted first and within 5 minutes we were all lounging on the clouded summit.
Bryan, Sarah and Jamie in the summit cloud
Glimpses of the surrounding ridges and valleys were fleeting, and we never did get a great view of the nearby Grand Traverse.
Boulder Creek drainage from Keller Mountain
After relaxing for 25 minutes, we had some discussion and decided to make a loop of it by descending directly into the North Rock Creek drainage.
Jamie and Sarah in the descent gully
We skated down a large gully of talus and scree to beautiful lake 11660, then dropped into the green valley below.
Lake 11660 below Keller Mountain
Greenery in the North Rock Creek drainage
We had read of some soggy bushwhacking, but just as the vegetation grew thick we found a boot path that grew into a trail and led us all the way back to the mine!
Gore Range wildflowers
Pine beetle devastation
The heavy rains forecast did not materialize and we arrived at the trailhead completely dry below a mix of blue skies and white clouds.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):