| All Alone on Uncompahgre Peak (4,361 metres)
Okay, first my bias - America's population has more than doubled, in my lifetime, so it's getting harder and harder to get away from the hoards when there are 300,000,000 of us rubbing elbows! (more on that at http://www.rogerwendell.com/population.html) So, it's always a wonderfully rare experience when you have an entire 14er to yourself!
As luck would have it I was able to take a day of vacation and show up at the base of Uncompahgre during the wee morning hours for my selfish pursuits of solitude and another check-mark on my 14ers list. The effort paid off as the only other creatures I encountered were a very large herd of elk, numbering at least three dozen. Here's a YouTube video I took of about half the herd from a greater distance than I would have liked but I guess they knew it was hunting season! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbQEy8JYLvc
On the way up I was careful to stay on the trail despite it retaining most of the snow. There were signs posted stating that the area below the summit block was an endangered species research area. When I got home I googled it and believe they're trying to protect the Fritillary Butterfly. Here's a YouTube video of that section of trail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFJXkwo-r-0
Once on top Uncompahgre I was struck by the raw, moon-like beauty of its broad summit. With an area about the size of a football field the summit held a number of wind shelters with great views in every direction. Despite the fierce wind and biting cold I spent over an hour on top taking photos/videos, playing with my GPS, and swapping-out the worn and tattered summit register. Here's the YouTube video of the summit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fejCEuKAa9c
It took me just under three hours to reach the summit from the BELOW the Nellie Creek trailhead - I went down the road, a few hundred feet in elevation, to ensure I gained the full 914 metres (3,000 feet) to the summit on my own. My time to the top took a lot longer than I expected because the snow, although only ankle-deep on average, took its toll on me - not to mention the countless photographs and videos I took all day.
Anyway, a great day was had by all (me!) and I look forward to doing Uncompahgre again at another time of low-usage - maybe mid winter or at night during a full moon next summer? Contact me if you're interested - two or three of us is better than 300,000,000!!
For the Earth,
Roger J. Wendell
Outhouse closed for the season - here's my page on THAT subject: http://www.rogerwendell.com/toilet.html
Actually, Wilderness is a sacred place.
Nellie Creek Trailhead
Welcome to the Uncompahgre Wilderness Area!
Sign to Uncompahgre Peak...
Endangered Species Research Area
Please stay on the trail!
Survey benchmark - Uncompahgre Summit
Uncompahgre Peak in early morning light
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):