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 Peak(s):  Mt. Columbia  -  14,073 feet
 Post Date:  08/12/2010
 Date Climbed:   08/10/2010
 Posted By:  SuzanG

 Three Elk Creek TH-Long haul-Very pristine   

Mt. Columbia-3 Elk Creek Trailhead 8/10/2010

We started from the Elk Creek Trailhead on FS 368 at 6:35 am. (Will add great pics when we get home on Monday.)

There was a pile of rocks with sticks stuck in the top of it that marked the trail about 50 yards up the road-and went off to the left. It was a nice, rolling trail. We followed it up to where it crossed the Colorado Trail and it became even more enjoyable as it went along a beautiful stream. This section is definitely in my top 5 most enjoyable hikes so far.

There was one area up where Roach's book trail description mentions going off to the West- the stream was coming down the trail and it was pretty difficult to stay going in the right direction. There is a small cairn there to watch for on the right hand side, that will take you up where you need to go.

*note: there were numerous places along the trail that looked like you were supposed to cross the stream but you were not. There are numerous stream crossings along the actual trail, but they were obviously still headed in the right direction and we didn't have any trouble with these.

Once up on the headwall (it is a medium sized one but not sure what else to call it) we traversed over toward the ridgeline (to the right). At this point there is no trail. We were very careful to walk lightly and in different paths as to not hurt the tundra any more then necessary. We did our best to zig zag up the steep slope to the ridge and stayed on it the whole way.

The inclination to go around the 3 false summits will be very strong but I highly recommend staying on the ridge and going over them- both directions. (We tried going around the first time up this peak and got into quite a jam) Coming down the false summits was easier then going up.

There is a tremendous amount of boulder/rock crossing on this hike. I highly recommend light hikers. I had trail shoes on but wish I'd worn something a little more rugged.

Coming downhill off the ridge is steep and we did our best to zig zag down, to save the pain in the knees.

I agree with RobtheGuru 8/31/2009 report in that this is a very secluded hike. I was taught the benefits of the buddy system growing up and this value truly came to mind on this trail. We saw one other hiker. If you are going to do this one I also recommend the following;
Have a buddy along
Take a map, compass and/or GPS
Bring more water, food and clothing then you think you will need
Plan on it taking 8-12 hours
Leave early

This is a truly pristine route. Please be extra careful to be good stewards in preserving the beauty that you see here. The hiker we saw had a dog that was going off where ever he pleased-chasing little critters and tearing up the terrain. Please don't do this. This is a hike that perhaps you should leave Fido at home (too much rock/boulders for a poor dog anyway).

8 hours 55 min. round trip with 20 min. on the summit. 4:35 to summit and 4:02 to the car. We did not stop other then to put on/off more clothing or take potty breaks. We are strong hikers having done well over 100 14er ascents for me and 200 for my husband. This is not a peak for wimps or newbies, that's for sure.

 


  • Comments or Questions
cftbq


Thanks     2010-08-15 12:17:05
very helpful TR on a rarely taken route.


sunny1


Thanks for posting!     2010-08-19 13:24:59
Looking for info on the TH access - is 4WD mandatory? High clearance?

Thanks for the TR - have been researching this route for later this summer


jillaye

camping?     2010-08-20 14:35:56
are there camping spots close to the TH?
thanks



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