| Mark`s Goodbye hike up Mt. Flora
Our friend Mark just graduated and he is going of to Winnemucca, Nevada. Before he leaves we wanted to do something memorable with him. There were three of us on this hike, Stephanie, Mark, and myself. Mark hasn't done that much hiking and has a habit of being completely unprepared when he does, so I decided that a 14er was probably out of the question, but maybe a 13er would provide the perfect balance of memorableness and difficulty. I did some research and decided on Mt. Flora, which one trip report described as a "good family day hike." As we later found out, that was, perhaps, portraying the hike as easier than it actually is.
I had planned on leaving at about 8:30AM to get to the trailhead, but alas, it was not to be. Mark got stuck in traffic on I-70 due to a car accident, and we weren't actually able to leave until almost 9:45AM. Fortunately we made good time to the trailhead and started our hike at about 10:30AM, only an hour late
Mark and I at the outset of the hike
Our initial plan was to go up Colorado Mines Peak first, and then go on to Mt. Flora.
Colorado Mines Peak: Our planned first stop
Hiking was very easy at first. It was nice and cool with the altitude and we talked, admired the scenery, and laughed at the patches of snow that lay scattered around despite it being early July.
Hardly any elevation gain, and already snow!
Once we got just below tree line we got the fork where the trail splits between Mt. Flora and Colorado Mines Peak. We decided here to skip Colorado Mine Peak. Being Colorado School of Mines students, we were kinda full up on Mines, and it didn't look that interesting, and, in the end, it was a little too out of the way for our liking. So we continued on to Mt. Flora.
Fork in the Trail
Look back at the trail just after it splits
Just after the split in the trail we came upon some tracks! I'm no tracker, so I really have no idea what animal it was, but it looks like mountain goat or big horn sheep or something.
We took our first major rest on the ridge between the false peak of Mt. Flora and Colorado Mines Peak, where we took some fun photos of us trying to look epic and of the surrounding scenery and the wild flowers.
Wild flowers with snowy mountains in the background
My epic picture of epicness
Steph's epic picture of epicness
Mark's epic picture of epicness
We also came across a fair bit of snow in the saddle. Not that much really...only a mini glacier but more than you would expect in July
Mark fishing snow out of his "hiking shoes"
As we hiked, we also came across lots of very pretty flowers. These are some of our flower pictures, it was very bright and very difficult to see whether the picture was a good one. Basically we guessed at it and crossed our fingers that it turned out ok, very similar to the way I take exams.
Bright blue wildflowers that were really eye catching
Whats this wierd plant? I dunno but the flowers are pretty
Standard yellow wildflowers, but still so pretty
Shortly after the ridge, the climb steepened considerably. Being the athletic in shape individuals that we are, we felt like we were going to die. We blame our fitness on our status as Mines students. However, despite our fatigue, we pushed on, believing that the peak was in site.
Look, its the top! Or it could just be a false peak...
Finally we reached the top, only to see that we were most definitely not on the top. While we all felt a little bit tricked, we decided that we weren't going to stop until we made it to the top of Mt. Flora!
Panorama from the false summit
Funny lookin circle of rocks just below the false peak
After going over the false peak we continued on towards the summit of Mt. Flora. We hiked for what seemed like a very long time, and still didn't reach the top. In all honesty, we didn't really know where we were going. We didn't know if the trail led to the summit or if you had to scramble to get there. For all we knew, we could have passed it by this point. Luckily for us, a very fast hiker overtook us as we were taking our 197305612734th break and we asked him if the summit we could see above us was, in fact, Mt. Flora. It was. Within a few minutes we were up at the top, and very excited! Time at the top: 1:30PM.
Mark and me at the top!
Mark and me being macho at the top.
Stephanie, the lone female of the hike, at the top
Stephanie and me in our dorky hiking hats at the top
All three of us at the top with Grays and Torreys in the background
Panorama from the summit of Mt. Flora
Mark showing off his awesome hiking shoes
The photo of all three of us was taken by the very same hiker that passed us below the summit. Thanks! As it turns out, he is a Mines alum too, small world!
After photos we at lunch, consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a variety of granola bars and some candy. Yum! The spot we picked to eat had the best views, looking right at Grays and Torreys. Unfortunately it was also right by a very large snow bank, thus making it a very cold spot. Especially for Mark, who had the foresight to not bring any extra layers at all Steph lent him a layer when he started shivering, and then we took our panorama shot and headed back down.
We were really booking it on the way back down the mountain. The weather held beautifully for us the whole day, but was starting to look like rain, and I didn't want to get caught above tree line. At least...that was the surface reason for going so fast down the mountain. The real reason was because I really had to pee! We only stopped when we saw a huge black bird perched on a rock. We estimated it to be almost 3 feet tall. It was so big, we mistook it for the silhouette of another hiker at first. Our best guess is that it was a raven, as we couldn't think of any other black bird that got that big. Unfortunately, it flew away before we could get a picture of it. Darn! That was the only wildlife we saw for the whole day too...oh well. Maybe we will see something furry on our next one!
All in all a very strenuous yet fun day. Have fun in Winnemucca Mark! We're gonna miss you!
I have more photos, and higher res pictures of the pano photos. If anyone wants them let me know. Thanks for sitting through and reading the whole thing!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):