Hikers: Darrin (kansas) and me
Route: Northeast Ridge: Stewart Creek
Elevation Gain: 3.6K'
On to Plan C
With our plans foiled to do a couloir climb of Conundrum due to bear activity, we head for the only other peak on Darrin's list that we can most easily hit. Too bad it was hundreds of miles or a 4 hour drive away. I would have liked to do an alternate route on this one, as I have done the standard route from Stewart Creek 4 years ago. But with Darrin falling asleep on the navigating job, I figured it would be easiest to go to the trailhead that I will remember. Of course the 40 miles of dirt roads seemed to go by a lot slower than they did last time.
After what seems like an eternity, we arrive at the trailhead, and quickly ready the back of the truck for sleeping. Now if only the other inhabitant of the trailhead would shut off his headlights.... how rude! (Thankfully he eventually did, but we may have been too tired to notice)
The majority of the distance of this route is along a nice forest and meadow trail, with very little uphill gain. 3 or 4 miles go by, and you barely notice that you are gaining a thousand vertical. A nice trail for the second day out.
Shadow and light
Once out of the trees the upper meadow and summit ridge becomes visible. The remaining vertical to the summit will be accomplished in the final mile or so. The flowers are really popping out all the way to the summit. I was amazed to see tiny purple flowers at 13.9K!
Some pretty purple flowers
Purple flowers and San Juans. The unmistakeable Uncompahgre in the distance
As we near the summit, we see a few couples make their way down. For the most remote of all the 14ers, we saw less than 20 people all day. The influx must have been the holiday!
Baldy Alto & Stewart Peak
The western San Juans - pano
La Guerita mountains - pano east
On the way down, I took a little time to photograph some pretty flowers I noted on the way up. Also a few strange trees, that looked half alive and half dead. It was like the seeds from the dead tree, germinated in the rotting sections to create new life around the old.
Strange Trees... half dead, half alive