I don't usually write up trip reports (so forgive me if I screw up some formatting or something.) but I didn't see any reports on the following route for Argentine or Wilcox. I thought someone may have some use for it.
Weekends when I don't get to the mountains for a hike or climb are also known as weekends where I am not fun to be around. Ask those who know me. After my plans for Holy Cross Ridge via backpack to Lake Constantine fell through due to rain (I know, I'm soft) I went to bed Saturday knowing I had to do something the next day. So, I set the alarm for 4 AM, still unsure of where exactly I was going.
The next morning I threw a day pack together (using my new "daypack checklist" I created after forgetting at least 1 item every time I went somewhere) and headed west on I-70.
Right around the sign for Mt. Evans road exit, I decided I would run over to the Sawtooth off of Bierstadt, as I figured I hadn't been there since early summer of '06. I made a quick call to let a contact know where I'd be, took the G-town exit, and headed up Guanella Pass.
FYI- The road up Guanella pass currently has stop lights set up for 1 lane areas. Not too bad, except that I hit every one on red, took up some time.
By the time I was up to the upper trailhead, it was close to 6AM. And cars were arriving. And arriving. And arriving some more. Now, I don't have a problem hiking with other people, but after seeing the Holy Crowds! thread on Bierstadt from a few weeks ago, I really felt like at least a LITTLE solitude.
So I consulted the map and chose to check out Argentine from a new approach: Silver Dollar Lake. I called to update my contact and headed back down Guanella pass road a couple miles to the Naylor Lake turn off. (2 sharp switchbacks north from the pass.)
The road to the Silver Dollar Lakes TH is a bit rough, but I'm sure any passenger car with careful driving could make it. The road continues past the TH, but will end in the private property around Naylor Lake. Therefore, make sure you park at the TH sign.
The first 1.5 miles up to Silver Dollar Lake went quick, as there is a good trail all the way up. The trail along this point is quite popular in summer months for those hiking to the lake. The trail skirts private property of Naylor Lake by rising on the north base of Square Top Mountain.
On the trail to Silver Dollar Lake, looking towards Argentine (left) and Wilcox (right)
After reaching Silver Dollar Lake, the trail angles NW up to Murray Lake. However, past Murray Lake the trail fades and splits, one continuing north to the saddle of Argentine and Wilcox, the other faintly ascending west to the Square-Top/Argentine saddle.
Looking down on Silver Dollar Lake on the way up to Murray Lake, looking east.
Viewing Wilcox's west ridge from near the Squaretop/Argentine saddle.
I decide to stay headed west to the Squaretop/Argentine saddle, and head up Argentine from the south.
Looking north at the false summit of Argentine.
View of my route up to Squaretop/Argentine saddle (taken on descent)
Once the saddle is reached, the view to the west opens up.
A "sharp" looking Grays.
My route so far shown from the saddle
The ridge to up Argentine is straightforward, all class 1. After reaching the ridge, the temps dropped quite quickly, my thermometer showing 35 degrees. Also, the first precipitation of the day began in the form of a sleet mix, something I don't usually see at 8 30 AM. This lasted only a few minutes, and besides for a couple droplets felt throughout the day, the rain clouds held off quite well.
I spent 15 or so minutes on the summit, debated on heading for Edwards or just wrapping up a quick day with Wilcox. The persistent looking raincloud above my head made me decide for a shorter day.
Wilcox from just below the Argentine summit.
From this point, I just followed the connecting ridge east. I really tried, but it was hard to find anything above low class 2 hiking.
Some man-made scenery
Looking up at Wilcox while on the ridge
From near the summit of Wilcox, looking back down the ridge.
I topped out on Wilcox around 10:00 (I think). The register had 1 name in the last couple weeks, which shows how ignored the little 13ers can be between its 14er neighbors. I then strolled my way down the mellow east ridge of Wilcox. Tempting as it is, be sure not to drop down early to Naylor Lake, as it is private. It will also be easier on the knees to follow the ridge out further. You can also descend back off the west ridge and down to Lake Murray, where you can meet up with your original ascent path.
Naylor Lake from Wilcox descent. The TH is in the trees on the left side of the photo.
Do you wonder why they call it Square-Top Mountain?
This was a very easy and very quick trip, and was about as secluded as you can get for a weekend front range hike off of Guanella Pass. Quite enjoyable.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):