| And the Living's Easy...
And the Living's Easy…
Summertime in the Sawatch
Peak: La Plata (& some non-peak meandering…)
Route: NW Ridge
Date: August 10, 2010
Length: 9.5 miles La Plata / 17.5 total
Vertical: 4500 feet La Plata / 6200 total
Ascent time: 2:26
Ascent Party: Dancesatmoonrise
Sawatch Alpine Tarn
It was one of those in-between days. Too much work to plan a big trip, but not so much that it couldn't be put aside for a nice mid-week day. A friend of mine has high regard for such truancy, referring to it as "playing hooky." The word certainly evokes angling, and visions of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer. Some last minute details, and I was out the door.
Some people demean "walk-up" 14ers. I like them all. I just like being in the mountains. Any month, any weather – but who can pass up summertime, on a nice weather day, when you barely need more than a pair of trail runners, water, and sun screen.
Besides, I had a date with a little alpine tarn on the first sunny afternoon, to see if any fish were interested in feathers tied up to look like bugs. So a trip up La Plata, followed by some trout fishing, would be perfect for slipping away on this sunny Tuesday. With a great forecast, being on the trail by mid-morning was not a problem. I arrived at 8:30 am.
Crossing over Lake Creek on the La Plata trail.
The La Plata trail is nearly a class 1 hike. It's really pretty straightforward. There are some nice views and nice late-season wildflowers right now, with the recent rains.
The South Lake Creek crossing has a nice footbridge.
Stairway to the Alpine.
In the basin on the west side of the ridge.
Wildflowers still glow in late season.
The ridge is well-defined, though a summer trail makes it even easier.
The impressive Ellingwood Ridge can be seen to the east from the standard route.
At the top of the ridge, the trails from north and south converge, and both head briefly east to the summit. I wanted a good ascent time but hadn't been feeling too well this week. Despite the legs and lungs whimpering a bit above 13,000, they still managed 2:26, TH to summit. I was happy to pay for that later. The views were typical Sawatch paradise.
Huron and Brown's from the summit of La Plata.
A small alpine tarn on the south slopes of La Plata… Is there life?
Snowmass, Capitol, Bells, Pyramid... Elks, we'll see you this weekend for Eric's finisher!
Hikers nearing the top of La Plata's NW ridge. Highway 82 to Independence Pass is seen 4000 feet below, with Lackawanna Peak in the background.
Wildflowers grace the basin below La Plata's NW ridge.
Somehow, I missed the cabin on the way up.
After a bit of repacking, I was off for another hike – in search of a pleasant little alpine tarn to see if any fish were interested in playing the fly rod game.
I can't remember so many beautiful August wildflowers in years past. The late-season rains surely helped.
Ah, my first customer! (Released alive and well...)
Thanks for reading.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):