| Alpine Loop-alooza: 2 of 3
Many years ago Jen and I climbed Handies from American Basin. It was our third 14er.
The view from the summit was so grand that it was hard to drink it all in. In the back of my mind, I knew we would climb it again one day, possibly from the Grizzly Gulch side.
That day finally came on July 4, 2009.
As we were prepping our packs at the trailhead, I heard someone say, "Hey, are you Aubrey?"
Rijaca, who I briefly met on Pyramid years back, had just pulled up with a couple other people, and they were prepping to climb a couple 13ers near Redcloud. It was great to run into him again and he gave us some good beta, like letting us know that axes and crampons wouldn't be needed. It was nice to dump that extra weight.
At about 5:50 a.m. we started up the trail under blue skies.
The trail up Grizzly Gulch kept alternating between dark forests, willow patches, wildflower-filled meadows, and grassy avalanche slopes. In one of the wooded sections we were startled by a large buck that ran right in front of us. I was wide-awake after that.
Some pics of the hike:
Looking back down Grizzly Gulch, with Redcloud and Sunshine in the distance:
Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre:
There was one small patch of snow covering the trail to the ridge, but most people just walked around it.
Lower part of American Basin:
Almost at the summit:
Pan of the summit (Jen on top), best viewed large:
Photo of me, taken by Jen from the summit:
We gained the summit at about 8:30 and the weather couldn't have been better. We felt lucky to have that unobstructed 360-degree view, which was much better than the obscured view we had on Wetterhorn the previous day.
No towns or buildings or highways -- just mountains in every direction, as far as the eye can see.
Jen's photo of Whitecross:
Jen eating Twizzlers on the summit:
Descending the steep slope off the summit ridge:
As we made it back down to the ridge, a woman asked me, "Are you Aubrey?" Her name was McKayla (sp?) and she recognized me from my trip reports. It was great to meet another 14ers.com member.
Then, just moments later, a guy (Cory, I think he said) asked me the same thing: "Are you Aubrey?"
It's a small world on 14ers.
Some wildflower shots:
On our hike back down we had another animal encounter. This time a huge coyote slipped across the slope right in front of us. It was pretty cool.
We made it back to the trailhead at about 10:30 a.m. No rest for the weary, we hopped in the truck and headed to the Silverton Brewery -- via Cinnamon Pass -- for post-hike beers.
The Animas Forks ghost town looked like a shopping mall on Black Friday:
Before making it to Silverton we took a quick detour up Burns Gulch. Thank god for my locking differential, otherwise I would've gotten stuck at 12,850':
Jen's shot of a cabin and a waterfall on the way to Silverton:
Downtown Silverton was slammed (fortunately, we just missed the parade):
And, finally, the Silverton Brewery:
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):