From A Classic Western - Quandary (Pt. 2)
Link to this Elbert Route Detail
On Thursday we packed up and headed for Leadville. It was nice to be close, and we stopped at the Ranger Station killing abundant time. They were very helpful, and recommended the Elbert Creek campground (Why is the Elbert Creek campground on Half Moon Creek???) for the NE ridge route.
View of Elbert from road near trailheadWe navigated an OK road and chose a spot on the creek. There was time for a bit of fishing.
Fishing in Halfmoon Creek
Friday would bring a 1:30 AM start at the trailhead.
At Trailhead - 1:30 AM This would be the moonlight hike envisioned when planning this trip. The day was clear and calm.
We had a moment of hesitation when we didn't find the branch from the Colorado Trail as/when expected. We took a break and consulted the maps. We were on course, and a decision to continue on brought us to the junction which was just out of sight when we paused.
At Colorado trail split - 2:35 AM
The route is a steady climb up through the trees. We alternated between moonlight and headlights, but there was no partly moony unlike the weather at Quandary. We would discover stunning views in the past-full moon in every direction this morning.
All of us in the trees yet
Above the trees - 4:30 AM
Moonlight - 4:30 AM
Moon over false summit - 5:40 AM
As we worked our way up, the pre-dawn orange gave way to the first rays of sunlight. We would welcome the first rays to take away the nighttime chill.
Pre-dawn 5:40 AM
Sunrise about 6:30 AM
Sunrise about 6:30 AM
It's a long steady climb, but the early morning views were just breathtaking. The choice of an 'easy' climb during an off time was paying off!
Mt. Massive - 7:00 AM
At 7:10 – 7:15 AM, we would have our second summit to ourselves as well. As we reached the summit ridge, my boys kicked my butt this time, as it should be.
No one to help with photo on summit
USGS Arrow marker - Mascot Navigator Duck joins in.Our mascot, Navigator Duck, even joined in the summit pics.
The morning shadow of Elbert - 7:25 AMWe took a little longer and thought about the pictures more, as well as sending out messages to my wife (thank you does not begin to express what your support of this trip has meant) and other family members. (Remainder of summit 360 pics are below)
We had seen headlamps below us on the way up, and encountered the first of the morning parade on the false summit bumps as we were on our way down.
The trip down was tough in that I emphasized keeping control at all times. I'm trying to instill and practice good habbits, and knowing your footing is #1. The trail is steep and loose at times, and I wondered to myself how some make it back down.
A stop at the fork for a duplicate of the picture from earlier,
Image #28 (not yet uploaded)then on to the trailhead.
Image #29 (not yet uploaded)
We decided that the trip was over and it was time to go home. We napped, packed up and were back at the Mint for another round of summit steaks. Then eastbound I-70 and I-76, where we were blessed with a final spectacular view of a sunset over RMNP.
Image #30 (not yet uploaded)We arrived home the next day after 3,200 miles, 3 summits and 11 days. We would discover that good friends were somewhere in the final sunset picture, having summited Longs while we were in Silverthorne on Thursday. (Congratulations, guys!)
To my boys, WOW, what a trip. Thanks and I hope we have many more outings like this ahead.
A final thanks to this online community, without which the trip of a lifetime with my two sons would not have taken shape.
For more adventures of Navigator Duck on this trip, see
Navigator Duck Heads West
Thanks for reading.