| Lindsey‘s North Face with a twist
Last August one of my hiking buddies and several of his co-workers made an attempt at Mt. Lindsey only to be turned back by T-storms at about 12,500 ft. These guys wanted another shot at this peak and I was honored to be invited to participate on their revenge mission. After several months of planning and anticipating it was finally time to set out for the Huerfano/Lily Lake trailhead. While the road is pretty rough, my stock 2WD Chevy Silverado made it without any problems. It is paved the first few miles and turns into a well maintained dirt road until you get just past the ranches about 16 miles in. After the ranches it gets rockier and steeper for the remainder. We made it all the way to the TH but opted for a nice campsite about a couple hundred yards back down the road.
Hit the sack about 9:30 but, as always, tossed and turned most of the night out of anticipation for the next morning. We ate a quick breakfast and headed to the trailhead at 6:30 am and we were welcomed with this:
The trail starts off going slightly downhill the woods........
and then opens into a meadow with some terrific scenery...
The trail winds through the meadow, in and out of the forest across the small river a few times and up to a boulderfield. This is where the trail heads up at a pretty steep rate for somewhere around 700 ft of gain or so. After this steep hiking, it seems to level off some at a small stream that is mostly boulders with the water running under them. You cross this stream easily before heading up to another wide open basin.
Here is a couple of shots of the area before heading up to the ridge at Lindsey's base. Notice Mt. Lindsey beginning to peek out over the ridge at us!
The hike up the basin to the ridge is easy to follow and provides for some great views........
Once we were on the ridge it was time to tackle our intended target!
The gulley seems very intimidating but, as the route description on the site suggests, it is not as bad as it looks...that is unless you do what we did.
We headed up the gulley just as we had studied until we got to the narrower notch at the top.
We noticed that at the top of the notch there was a place to continue to the left that had a slight drop in elevation gain but we could not see a clear trail beyond that so we opted to head a little further straight up and to the right. We quickly began to get onto some really steep, smooth rock. We quickly knew that we had strayed off course but due to the steepness aof the path we chose, we decided that it was more risky going back down this way than to continue to just slowly find safe, solid lines together and try to make it up. It was slow going but because the rock was very solid and there were many good foot and hand holds, we were able to make it to the false summit. I HATE FALSE SUMMITS!
After a quick snack/hydration break we pushed on to the real summit.
After about 4 1/2 hours of hiking/climbing/scrambling we made it to the summit safely!
My 10th summit!!!
Views from the top of Mt. Lindsey are awesome........
there is Blanca/Ellingwood/Little Bear,
the Spanish Peaks
the Crestone Group was visible for much of the hike above tree line
and a view down into the San Luis Valley towards highway 160 before it goes up to La Veta Pass.....
Luckily for us there were two brothers that were on the summit when we got there that took our summit shots and more importantly showed us the correct route which was the safer route on the descent. While still rocky and loose, it was far safer than what awaited us had we gone down our path up.
On the way down we were able to spot the rare and elusive Bull Marmot in all it's sunbathing-on-a-rock glory!
as well as some pretty waterfalls....
After almost three more hours of hiking down we finally arrived at the meadow that just a few hours earlier that morning had graced us with it's beauty and serenity.
Overall this was the most difficult and challenging hike I have been on yet, but is also the most rewarding. Just a few notes to pass on to others that may be considering this awesome mountain in the future:
First, start off early. We started at 6:30 and this would have been way too late had it not been a perfect day. We could see storms building far off to the west over the San Juan's well before we got to the summit. Secondly, once at the top of the loose gulley on Lindsey's north face, you want to drop over to the left through a small notch. It is fairly easy to recognize due to a slight elevation loss for just a little bit and it also has red dirt right at the notch. If you look at both of the different route descriptions on this site and see the paths that are drawn up, ours fell somewhere in between the Northwest Ridge and the North face. Overall though a great experience and now I can't wait to take my kids up to summit Huron Peak next month.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):