| 1-2-3 Missouri, Oxford and Belford SUCCESS!
1-2-3 Missouri, Oxford and Belford Success!
This is a continuation of sorts of my report last week where I attempted to do Belford, Oxford and possibly Missouri but got turned back with just Belford done. This week, I arrived at the TH at 7am and was on the trail at 7:10. longjim, you'll be proud to know that I was the first one in the parking lot. One person pulled in the lot about 5 minutes after me and got started while I was still getting situated. Being a man on a mission, I quickly overtook him and I never saw another person the entire day. I felt great this time. My legs felt strong and I was on my way up the familiar trail to Belford.
Here is a shot of the trail after the initial switchbacks but before the cabin.
Soon I had passed the cabin and could see first light on Belford.
To the right, it looked like there was quite a bit of snow on Missouri.
It only took 50 minutes to get to the cabin this time, and an hour and a half to the bottom of the steps of Belford. I was feeling much better and looking forward to a great day! The only thing that I could have done without was the very strong and cold headwind. This would stay with me the entire day. I had a difficult time taking a picture that showed the true steepness of Belford, but here is one from some of the higher switchbacks that shows several succeeding bumps below that each had to be climbed via steps and switchbacks.
Having stepped onto Belford for the 2nd time in as many weeks, there was nobody to take my picture so I used a time-tested method.
I started the journey down the saddle to Oxford.
You get a good view of Harvard to your right as you head down the steep saddle.
Once across the saddle, the trail up Oxford was a gentler slope and seemed like a walk in the park after ascending Belford.
The Oxford marker with the saddle to Mt. Belford in the background.
A closer look at the trail across the saddle to Belford. Like I said, it is fairly steep on the Belford side but it has to be done so here I go…
Toward the top of the saddle, before I got back to the summit of Belford, I took a trail that veered to the left to get to Elkhead Pass. (Sorry, no pic)
Heading down Elkhead Pass with Missouri in the background. I circled the cairn at the bottom where all my decision-making was to be done. (and where I lost one of my gloves to the relentless wind)
Once at Elkhead Pass, I tried to decide which way to traverse Missouri's south side. Using another trip report, but not sure I was interpreting it correctly, I finally decided to follow the high route (3).
I tried following a route just above the talus along the base of the rock.
I ended up getting pretty high and got cliffed out. I decided to climb up instead of down. By doing several sequences of upclimbs and downclimbs, I eventually (and I do mean eventually) made it to the top of what I thought was Missouri. I'm changing my profile to class 4 after this. Disclaimer: I would not recommend this route! I would take #1 or #2 from image 12
As it turns out, I still had several humps in the ridge before I would get to the top of Missouri Mountain. They were class 4, but after what I had just climbed to get up there, they didn't seem all that bad.
This is about where I came out on top before making it over a few humps and valleys to the top of Missouri.
Once on Missouri, the wind was howling and there was no register to be found. I was sure it had blown off just today.
I did find the marker though.
I took a quick break to eat my sandwich and then started back down the standard route. By now it was 4:30pm. I had spent quite a while on the backside of this mountain.
This is looking back toward Missouri Mountain from the standard route.
The trail goes along the top and behind (S of) the ridge but eventually you will find a large cairn in a low saddle that marks the descent route.
The trail was well marked with some of the largest cairns I have ever seen and took me back past the fork to Elkhead Pass and then past the fork to Mt. Belford. You cross the stream several times which was nice because I was just needing a refill. I stopped to pump some water and took one final look at last light on Belford. This was a long and challenging - but rewarding day.
Last light on Belford
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