| Adventures in Wonderland - The Arapaho Peaks Traverse
"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."
Adventures in Wonderland - The Arapaho Peaks Traverse
North Arapaho Peak, 13502 ft., ranked 255th in Colorado.
South Arapaho Peak, 13397 ft., unranked.
Hike Date: September 4, 2010.
Trailhead name and elevation: Fourth of July, 10172 ft.
Route and difficulty: The Arapaho Peaks Traverse, 3rd class, bypassed 4th class sections.
Distance: Approximately 8.5 miles roundtrip.
Weather: NWS forecast is sunny but cold, with wind of 18-25 mph, and gusts to 45 mph. Forecast was spot on.
Captions on top of photos.
The forecast is for sun so I sleep in and start late, 7:30 AM. Daylight pours down South Arapaho Peak.
The trail is cloaked in shadow. I go down the rabbit hole...
...and emerge on the other side where the natives are celebrating the last days of summer with a riotous party.
"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where--" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"--so long as I get SOMEWHERE," Alice added as an explanation.
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
The trail breaks treeline at the Fourth of July mine. The south face couloirs of South Arapaho Peak come into view. Skywalker is the darkest and most prominent couloir.
South Arapaho Peak grabs my attention as I approach the saddle with Old Baldy. I am buffeting against a strong and steady wind.
I reach the saddle. North Arapaho Peak appears. The hike up to this point has been on easy trail. Things are about to get a lot more interesting.
A web of well-worn paths ascend the talus slopes. Jasper Peak and Mount Neva dominate the view to the south. Lake Dorothy, the highest named lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, is seen cradled by Mount Neva.
The rocky summit of South Arapaho appears. I've had a lonely hike up to this point so I'm suprised by the number of people enjoying the summit.
I hike up to the summit and exchange salutations. My deep gaze at North Arapaho Peak shows my intentions. I'm asked if I plan to continue on. I strap on my helmet - the traverse to North Arapaho Peak starts here. The route contours along the visible ridgeline.
Painted arrows show the easy way...
...and the easy way is a lot of fun. I scramble on solid rock with only moderate exposure.
The arrows continue towards the first crux.
I approach the first crux - a 4th class slab that rises fifteen feet into the sky and set back at a 60 degree angle.
"Well, I'll eat it," said Alice, "and if it makes me grow larger, I can reach the key; and if it makes me grow smaller, I can creep under the door; so either way I'll get into the garden, and I don't care which happens!"
The slab viewed from up close. I climb up onto it and if I had a buddy I'd go for it. But I back down and search for an easier way around the obstacle.
I descend to the west and find the bypass about 100 feet below the crux. The bypass is marked by a small cairn seen here on the upper right.
I traverse rocky slopes to regain the ridge. The wind rushes up the face.
A prominent notch breaks the ridge. I drop to the east and pass through the notch. I encounter a man and woman who are returning from North Arapaho. These are the only people I encounter on the traverse to and from the peak.
I regain the ridge. The rugged summit block appears.
The summit block requires some exciting third class climbing to surmount.
All too soon I'm on the summit of North Arapaho Peak.
Alice remarked, "It would be so nice if something made sense for a change."
The large summit cairn is the size of a car. It does a great job at blocking the wind. I relax comfortably and enjoy a sandwich with Red Bull.
The vista from my perch is breath taking. South Arapaho Peak, Old Baldy, and the Arapaho Glacier dominate the view to the south.
The view widens across the eastern plains.
The rugged south of face of Navajo Peak dominates the view to the north. Longs Peak rises tall in the distance.
The view to the west leaves me breathless.
I gaze down into wild and pristine Wheeler Basin. Iroquois Peak is the illuminated shark tooth on the right. Hopi is the sun-drenched mountain on the left.
The view to the southwest includes (from right to left) Mount Neva, Jasper Peak, and Skyscraper Peak. Grays and Torreys are visible, as are the distant Ten Mile and Gore Ranges.
This is a close-up view of Arapaho Pass, Lake Dorothy, and Mount Neva.
Satiated, I start down from the summit.
The ridge is intimidating but I am confident.
A few sections are highly exposed.
"I could tell you my adventures — beginning from this morning," said Alice a little timidly: "but it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then."
"Explain all that," said the Mock Turtle.
"No, no! The adventures first,' said the Gryphon in an impatient tone: 'explanations take such a dreadful time."
I encounter difficult 4th class terrain at the top of the ridge. I drop to the west and traverse easy but exposed ledges.
I locate the prominent notch in the ridge line.
I climb up through the notch.
From the notch, I cross back over the ridge and continue my traverse along the west slope.
I drop 100 feet below the crux slab and locate a natural ramp that leads back to the ridge. I am mindful of the fragile alpine flora and keep my feet on rock.
Autumn approaches - the beautiful apline flora is in a state of change.
I continue up the rocky slope to the ridge...
...where I regain the hiking trail.
I continue hiking the ridge towards South Arapaho Peak.
The last flowers of the season.
It's 2 PM - the summit of South Arapaho Peak is quiet and lonesome. I stop to rest.
I look back at North Arapaho Peak with a smile and say thanks for safe passage.
I pass over South Arapaho Peak and descend the south slope.
The trail provides a great view of the Middle Boulder Creek drainage and Fourth of July Road.
The trail switchbacks towards the west. Mount Neva is cloaked by shadow on the left and Quarter to Five Peak is sunlit on the right.
The sun and clouds create an ever-changing landscape of light and shadow.
"Who are YOU?" said the Caterpillar. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then."
I'm done with the big things for the day. With a Cheshire grin I turn my attention to the little things.
I stash my camera and walk a little faster. The end is near...
The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. "Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?" he asked.
"Begin at the beginning," the King said gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
The White Rabbit read,
"They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.
Don't let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me."