| La Plata Northwest Ridge
Next to Missouri Mountain, which we completed the day before, La Plata paled in comparison. I had always looked at this peak from the summits of others and thought it would be the ultimate climb. I was just a little disappointed, although it had its moments of greatness along the way.
Lon and I arrived at the trailhead of La Plata's Northwest Ridge route at about 5:30 a.m. We hit the trail around 6:00, later than planned. Lonnie was tired from all of the hiking the day before, so we started out at a much slower pace than normal.
The first portion, through the trees and across the metal and wood bridge was easy walking. There was a pretty cool waterfall that we passed right away.
This is the waterfall from the bridge.
After a while, we crossed another stream and started up a series of stone and woods steps (I think Lonnie counted about 105 steps) up through the forest.
Looking back at the steps.
We hiked for quite a while in the trees and finally came into a pretty nice meadow. We moved up the left side of the meadow for a little way. Then we started up some switchbacks of a stunning looking gully.
Looking up at the gully and switchbacks.
Looking back down at the switchbacks.
The wildflowers were definitely in season. At the top of the gully were a rocky ridgeline and some awesome rock formations. We exited the gully to our right and continued under the rocks attempting to gain the saddle.
Some of the wildflowers
Quite a few rocks fell from above while we were crossing under the ridge, but we never were hit by any.
Looking back from high above the gully to our car and the road.
Some of the wildlife along the way.
The portion of the climb right below the ridge was the steepest. Slides had wiped out some of the trail and it was just scrambling up loose rock and dirt. Lonnie picked great steps for this portion.
Finally on the saddle.
Once we gained the saddle, we saw our first sight of the Ellingwood Ridge across the valley. It looked very daunting.
We continued up the ridge toward the summit, and in some places lost the trail and just had to scree hop toward Cairns. Wow, I'm so glad I have Lonnie along. He has a truly great sense of which way to go!
Lon making his way from cairn to cairn.
Finally, after circling around to the backside of the mountain, we reached the summit. I was pretty glad to have finished this one – ah, well, yeah, not quite.
Summit shot of Lon and me (Ice Mountain in the background).
Some summit shots of the Ellingwood Ridge.
Looking toward Elbert and Massive from summit.
Lon resting before starting down.
Lonnie and I made the trek down quite a bit shorter by jogging some of the trail before we got to treeline.
I had already duct taped Lonnie's ankles, but when we got to the river, I suggested we take off our shoes and soak them in the water. Lon was all about that!
Lon after soaking his feet.
Looking back at La Plata from the road (La Plata is farthest to the right in the distance).
Just as we got in the car, it started to rain. Timing was perfect.
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