| Belford/Oxford -- yeah, we had signs :)
So, I had agreed to do this climb with a meetup group and hike with the people who would be doing both Belford and Oxford as a combo. There were people in the meetup doing just the single Belford portion of the trip. There were 18 who showed up shortly AFTER 5:00 a.m. (yeah, I said I would leave at 5:00 a.m. sharp – but people just kept arriving).
I started down the trail at about 5:20 a.m. with Carlos, Lonnie and a few individuals from our group in front and behind me. After about a mile or so on the trail, Carlos indicated he wasn't feeling well and was going to slow his pace just a bit. So, Lonnie and I kept hiking and after a little while caught up with Al, who also had to slow his pace from the John/Andy pace he previously kept. We nabbed Al, and made him hike with us the rest of the way up the mountain.
First view from the trail of Missouri Mountain (right) and Belford (left).
We passed the log cabin on the trail, and eventually made it to treeline.
Taking a break at the log cabin.
It was interesting when we reached the intersection in the trail that the sign pointed as Belford being to the right – it was incorrect, as that was the way to Missouri Mountain. So, we took the left fork and continued to the switchbacks on Belford.
Aaron coming up the switchbacks.
They were a grind, but we finally made it to the summit.
Lonnie and me on the summit of Belford -- yeah, with a sign
The winds were howling, and it looked like it was going to snow, but Al, Lonnie and I still decided to continue over to Oxford. Two other people, Aaron and Shannon, joined us.
Shannon before she got sick.
The ridge and hike down to Oxford was swift, but we knew it would be grueling coming back up. We reached Oxford, took a few summit photos and had a quick lunch. Unfortunately, Shannon started feeling ill and only got worse the rest of the trip.
Looking down the Belford ridge to the Belford/Oxford saddle.
Al on the top of Oxford.
Lonnie on top of Oxford.
We made it slowly back to the summit of Belford when it began to thunder.
Almost back up the ridge from the saddle.
I had to get Shannon up Belford and off the summit (she was quite sick by that time), and kept prodding her forward.
Shannon starting to feel really awful, but still smiling.
This lady was tough. Even though she was throwing up on the side of the trail, she kept moving, and eventually we got her back down to the parking lot. Aaron was, I think, happy for the slower pace because his knees were trashed from the hike.
Hikers glissading down C Couloir on Missouri Mountain.
Wow, it was quite an epic adventure for those two. Lonnie and I just hung back with them and thoroughly enjoyed the rest of the hike. Al had to get down to the parking lot to get additional water as he loaned his last water to Shannon.
What a day – glad those two are done! Out of 18 people, 11 summited both peaks, and four more people summitted just Belford.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):