| Gurlz rule, boyz drool
Glitter pink sign, courtesy of Darrin - Photo Credit: mtgirl
Route: SW Ridge
Elevation Gain: 3,623'
Sweet 16: girlslovesnow, guser, Lurabelle, tundratif, birdie, JMo, whit12, Katerina, moon stalker, globehugger, trailsntails, Upstate hiker, mtgirl, sunny1, waller19, & me
The morning broke cool and crisp, and I doubt anyone wanted to leave the warm comfort of her sleeping bag for the icy outdoors. 9 of us camped out, or slept in our vehicles at the Winfield campsite. Ice was on the windshields of vehicles as we carpooled up to the 4WD trailhead that is West Winfield.
The road wasn't too bad, but definitely required a high clearance vehicle. The contents of the back of my truck were certainly shaken, not stirred, creating quite the jumble of camping gear. We didn't drive all the way up to the TH in case there were more gurlz coming. Here we waited for a short time, not realizing the other half of the gurlz were waiting around the bend. We both had the plan to slowly start the hike up, and maybe the other group would catch up. But once my group had started up the remaining road, we ran into the other group. We introduced ourselves with real names and screen names. We had 2 Erin's, 2 Whitney's and 2 Jen's, it was apparent that remembering names was going to be tricky! Then after a group photo, we were on our way!
16 Gurlz starting the day
The initial trail was a nice walk up the valley next to a stream. The fallen aspen leaves making a light carpet of yellow on the ground. We chatted with those around us, and kept a relatively slow pace, so that everyone could keep up. Once we got above treeline, a longer break was taken so that everyone could catch up and remove the extra layers. The sun was removing the chill from the air, and making the hike quite pleasant.
Once above the trees, we could also get a better idea of our route ahead. With the basin surrounding us, we could see the trail snake up a wall at the far end. But first we had to navigate the muddy willow section. The mud was still frozen, this early in the morning, but this area would be one we didn't want to see later once melted.
The far wall to get up to the SW ridge was one of scree and few switchbacks. Yet another area of dread on the return trip. But we all got up this wall of scree, and I was happy to have trekking poles to dig into the ground to anchor my way up.
The scree wall ahead
Almost thought this was Ellingwood Ridge... it connects to 3-5 13ers eventually
Up one of the few switchbacks
Once on the upper ridge, the wind started up, and our large group eventually had to break up into smaller groups as we all had to keep moving to stay warm. It was now a matter of counting everyone on the trail, to make sure everyone was doing well, as I bounced between the faster and slower groups on the talus slope.
The way ahead
A look back, and a kewl 13er - Sayers BM
Counting the gurlz
Once on the false summit, we could see the true summit, just a short distance away. The couple people on the top didn't look too small, so it had to be close! So after a short break to let some gurlz catch up, the first group took off for the final summit push.
Photo credit: mtgirl
Last break spot
Once on the summit, we all donned some extra clothing, to make sure we would stay warm enough, as we waited for the remaining couple of gurlz to come up the trail. mtgirl had enough energy to run over to the semi-false summit to give us an update on the remainder of the groups' progress. With a number of gurlz having asthma, a broken toe, a broken hand, forgotten hiking boots, and a variety of other ailments, it was quite the accomplishment that every single lady summitted on this day. A true testament to the will required to hike up one of these peaks.
When we arrived on the summit, there was a group of 2 other ladies on the summit, who had gone up the standard trail. Also, as we waited, a lone male showed up, but immediately left for more solitude further way. Other than 3 other guys on the trail, we had managed to pull off a completely female trek. And as far as I know, no 14ers guy "crashed" our party. Of course, we were on the summit a bit later than normal for summer, but the weather was holding stable and nice, so there was no rush.
Once we had all caught our breath and ate some lunch, the summit photo sequencing started. Some serious photos followed by a bunch of silly muscle posing photos. A good time was had by all as we hung out on the summit for a while.
All 16 Gurlz make the summit!
A gorgeous day, looking at the southern Sawatch
Someone's serious about those 14ers! Photo Credit: mtgirl
Just another pretty pano I couldn't resist
Eventually we needed to head down. mtgirl had to get home to receive a phone call, and Laurabelle wanted some more elevation gain and headed off to do Missouri Mountain. Others were not camping out that evening, and were heading home. So the descent was just as scattered as the final ascent was. Once we were below the horrid scree wall, the remaining group took a long break, to make sure everyone was down the hardest part of the trail. From this point on, the hardest part would be avoiding the mud and willows.
Huron, tomorrow's goal
Time for some sun bathing
A nice break spot
Refueling for the final trek down
The afternoon light was catching the remaining golden leaves and throwing shadows onto Huron and the 3 Apostles, as we made our way back down to the trailhead. Moon stalker went ahead to collect firewood for the evening fire. We knew it would be another cold one, and a fire would throw more heat than the small lantern we had the night before.
On the nice trail
Fall is here
Sunset and a fire
I would like to think that we all found some new hiking partners on future trips, and that a couple lasting friendships were made. Many of us that have finished the 14ers, or are close have spent so much time hiking with guys only, that it is quite the treat to go with other ladies. So I hope those that are only just starting out, take advantage of the opportunity to hike with the other gurlz on the trip. I know I look forward to the next gurlz hike/scramble/ski trip, and I hope we will have as good a turn out for future events!
Day 2: Huron Peak, with a quick traverse to Browns Peak and Pt 13,462
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):