| 4 peaks, 1 day
The Challenge: Belford, Oxford, Missouri, Huron all in one day
History: My dad was running the Leadville 100 mile race a few years ago. As he ran on Hope Pass, surrounded by the 14-ers, he wondered why the race course didn't take them higher. This year he decided to forego Leadville, and instead hike, run, and climb some 14ers! With the help of a trail map and 14ers.com, he decided that we could do Belford, Oxford, Missouri, and Huron all in one day. After all, Belford, Oxford, and Missouri are so close that they're practically "gimme's", right?
My very patient mom and sister dropped us off at the trailhead a little after 5:00am. The first half mile is pretty steep, and neither of us wanted to admit that we were feeling the elevation. Thankfully, we adapted pretty quickly, and even started talking about running around 12,000 ft. elevation. My dad would keep commenting, "this is Leadville run-able." I'm glad I had enough sense to conserve some energy for the rest of the day!
The first two: At daybreak, we started to see other hikers behind us as we climbed toward Belford. We reached the summit before 8:00am, and I think we were the first ones there! It was perfectly clear, and we had fantastic views! Sweet! We took a couple of pictures, and headed toward Mt. Oxford. It was pretty short and sweet going between the 2 mountains, and I began to think that 4 14ers in a day really wasn't going to be so bad! After signing the log at Oxford and chatting with other hikers, we headed off toward Missouri Mtn.
View from the top of Belford
Mt Oxford Summit
Not a gimme: We dropped all the way back down to Missouri gulch, and then started up toward Missouri Mtn. This was a fun trail with excellent "stairs" in the rocks. We did notice an abundance of extremely large and oddly colored crickets. And they always seemed to be sitting on the rock exactly where you wanted to put your hand. Yuck! As we climbed along the ridge of Missouri Mtn, we got to play on some fun rocks. And again, there were great views from the summit. Lots of fun, but I have to say, it was not a "gimme"! I was definitely starting to feel the challenge! By then it was about 12:30. We looked across the valley and up to Huron Peak, our final one of the day. I couldn't quite believe we had to go all the way down, and back up again! But it looked gorgeous, and hey, the day was young.
Hiking up the "stairs" on Missouri
Image #44 (not yet uploaded) Dad on the summit of Missouri
The adventure really starts: According to our map, there was a trail from Missouri down to the lake and up to Huron. If that trail exists, we certainly were not on it. We pretty much stepped off of Missouri and into a never-ending rockslide. After sliding down for about 45 minutes, we were finally on "runable" ground. We ran through thick brush, looking for a trail, and just never quite found one.
Coming down Missouri
Decision time: We reached Cloyes lake in the valley at about 2:30. The plan had been for my mom and sister to bring us water. Unfortunately, due to rental car issues, they weren't able to reach us. I was almost out of water, and was definitely tired. My dad said the smart thing would be to head down the road and into town. Apparently, the altitude was getting to us. We immediately discarded the smart option and set off to find the summit of Huron.
It really wasn't incredibly difficult to find, as it was pretty much strait up. With no trail. So we bushwacked up, up, up, with patience, energy, and water all quickly decreasing. We finally got above tree line, only to discover that we would have to scramble up a scree chute very similar to the one we had just slid down. We could hear a rockslide in another chute that just seemed to go on and on and on. But there was only one way out, and it was strait up. So we climbed. Me far more slowly than my dad. I have to say, I don't think there are many 57-year olds, or any age people for that matter, who could keep up with him. Its crazy! We finally made it out of the scree and did the final rocky climb toward the summit at about 6pm.
Heading up Huron
And, that was the end of my water
Must have been the last one who ran out of water on this route
Dad at the summit of Huron
Me at the summit, pointing toward Missouri, our previous stop
From there, we ran down the trail to the main trailhead. By this
time, I thought the site of an actual trail was the best thing on earth! A few miles later we met up with the rest of the family and called it a day. 15 hours, four 14ers. As a reward, we took the next day off, before tackling Yale on Saturday!
Thanks for a great family vacation, Dad, Mom, and Tra!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):