| Mt. Massive - SW Slope - Reconfirms why I love hiking in Colorado
Just completed Mt. Massive SW slope this morning and I would have to say it was by far the most enjoyable 14er I've hiked so far (although it was only my 7th 14er) Of course the day was absolutely beautiful, I'm sure anybody hiking today would attest to that, but it was also the varied terrain and surroundings during the climb that added to the entire experience. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, my camera battery died while taking shots on the top of Mt. Elbert yesterday (which was a nice hike, but in my opinion nothing compared to the SW slope of Massive)
As far as the trip report, here are the highlights:
Started at 6:15am (with my dog "Yip") at the fork in the road about 1/2 mile below the trailhead. Even though I have a 4wd Jeep, I still thought better of not going up the last 1/2 mile on this rough road. (I noticed when I came back down that no one was parked at the trailhead - I guess everyone feels that a 1/2 mile climb is worth not subjecting their car to possible damage)
After a quick walk up the road I reached the trailhead, filled out the Wilderness card, and was on my way at 6:30am.
The first 1.25 miles through the forest and meadow, with the creek at times on the left, was a perfect way to begin a hike. Rather than having to immediately do the "steep stuff", you can get a good pace going and have a nice warm-up, while also enjoying some incredible views going up the valley.
Next it was a right turn at the meadow and up the SW slope. As I was going up I was in total awe - not at the mountain, but at the work that was done to create the trail with what seemed like hundreds of rock steps. To those who created this masterpiece (and I'm sure some of you are regulars on this site), I can't thank you enough for your hard work and dedication to making this trail possible.
After the long climb up the SW slope it was over the top and a few steps down to the junction with the other trail. A short scurry across the ridges and I was on top of Mt Massive at 9:15am.
I was not only blown away at the views, with not a single cloud in the sky, but I unbelievably was the only one on the summit! I know it was mid-week on a Thursday, but since it was 9:15am and the weather was perfect, I thought I would have more than a few companions at the top. To say the least, this was a totally new experience for me on a 14er.
After 15 minutes at the summit (and still no one in sight), I headed back down. I wish I could have stayed longer, but I had to get back to Co Springs that afternoon.
The trip down was a nice workout on the quads, but once you get to the bottom you get that 1.25 miles through the meadow and forest back to the trailhead that lets you cool down and give the legs a rest.
Reached the car at 11:40am and was on my way to Co Springs.
I've haven't done the other trail up to the top of Massive, so I don't have a point of reference to compare with, but I know that I plan on doing this great hike again (while dragging a few friends with me).
P.S. - if any of you worked on the "rock stairs", I'd be curious to know how long it took what kind of logistics were used.