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What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Famof7 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:12 am

The answer: My family of 7.

Hi. I'm not really new to the forum as I have been reading through them for over a year, but this would be my first post.

I have a few questions, but first I'll explain the Dynamics of my family.

1. Me & Wife-Both Teachers, myself a Coach---I only divulge this to explain that our trips are on a budget and must be thrifty....did I mention there are 7 of us.
2. Children, all healthy, active and between the ages 6-14...all boys.
3. We drive a minivan-2-wheel drive.
4. The basic camping/hiking gear....used in TX.

This is the part that I could use your help/advice.

My family plans to take a trip back to Co from Tx this year and doing some camping/hiking, probably about 4-5 days camping...possibly throwing in a hotel the last night to refresh, clean up and relax.

Anyways, my thoughts are to make the trip mid-late June, and camp at Grizzly Gulch. Keeping in mind our budget, I'm planning the trip around minimized gear needed, travel, etc.
Day 1...Acclimate
Day 2...Handies
Day 3...Relax
Day 4...Redcloud & Sunshine
Day 5...Hotel

Questions??

Will my car make it to the Grizzly Gulch TH or campgrounds-minivan?
Is this the best option for our group dynamics as far as climbing, camping, and budgeting?
is there another group of mountains that you would suggest, with campgrounds nearby.
Is there fishing in the area or other activities that would help hold the attention of 5 boys... IE...white water rafting, swimming, or anything?
Anything else I might be overlooking.


I know I have mentioned our budget, I don't mean to imply we a count pennies, but rather we have to plan our trips.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

Famof7
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure".

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby gdthomas » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:41 am

1. A minivan loaded with seven people and gear will not make it to the Grizzly Gulch/Silver Creek TH parking lot. I wouldn't take a minivan to the TH if there was just a driver.

2. Do you plan to camp at the TH parking area? It's not unusual for hikers to sleep in their car overnight but I'm not sure about multi-day camping in the lot. I'm guessing it's frowned on. There's camping at the Williams Creek NF campground on the road to the TH about 7 miles outside of Lake City and 11 miles from the parking area.

3. Your intinerary is a good one accept mid-June is a bit early to avoid snow fields on these hikes. It really depends on how much snow the San Juans get this winter/spring. I'd wait until late June or better yet, July.

4. There's fishing and other activities at nearby Lake San Cristobal and Lake City.

5. If your goal is to get away from fellow Texans, you may be surprised to learn you'll see as many Texas license plates as Colorado plates in Lake City during the summer.

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby peter303 » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:04 pm

I made it twice in honda civic sedans from the Lake City side. It was very scary. The protuding rocks and gullies were about equal to my clearance. I saw other sedans up there. Plus there is a portion of the road that is only one lane wide for two way traffic.

There are three forest campgrounds past the lake before the bad part of the road. You could camp one of the nights there. They are very popular and fill up on summer weekdends.

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Presto » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:07 pm

by gdthomas » Mon Mar 04, 2013 11:41 am
1. A minivan loaded with seven people and gear will not make it to the Grizzly Gulch/Silver Creek TH parking lot. I wouldn't take a minivan to the TH if there was just a driver.

2. Do you plan to camp at the TH parking area? It's not unusual for hikers to sleep in their car overnight but I'm not sure about multi-day camping in the lot. I'm guessing it's frowned on.


Actually, we had some friends we did a multi-day trip with (camping multiple nights and climbing from that trailhead) that did get their minivan to that parking lot. They were loaded down with tons of gear, boxes of food and clothes, etc. as they were literally living out of their van at the time. Chris just said he went really slow on that road on the way in and out. We had absolutely no issues camping there multiple nights and had tents set up near our vehicles.

Happy trails! :-D
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Exiled Michigander » Mon Mar 04, 2013 12:53 pm

I concur that getting to the Grizzly Gulch TH in a minivan is an ambitious goal, but theoretically it's possible. I was amazed at the vehicles I saw at the parking lot at Grizzly Gulch--I would never have put money on them making it. Having walked that road on foot, I can tell you that there are several spots that could easily rip out an oil pan and spoil your whole trip.

The Mill Creek campground just southeast of Sunshine is a great spot to camp if there is room, but that would add nearly 10 miles round trip to any standard route from Grizzly Gulch TH. So that's probably not feasible. And I would not recommend hiking Sunshine directly from Mill Creek; too steep for beginners.

If you are only interested in Handies, you could try the Grouse Gulch route. You could definitely get your van to that TH, and the hike from there is about 8 miles round trip. As I recall there is a campground on the road to that TH as well as some possible other sites to camp. That would put you on the Silverton-Durango-Telluride side of those three mountains, and there would be a lot more to do in general than the Lake City side. But it wouldn't allow you to get Redcloud and Sunshine.

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby CarpeDM » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:12 pm

Famof7 wrote:3. We drive a minivan-2-wheel drive.

Will my car make it to the Grizzly Gulch TH or campgrounds-minivan?


My initial reaction was to agree with gdthomas. I have gotten both a Nissan Sentra and a Honda Fit to that trailhead, but they have shorter wheelbases and weren't loaded down with 7 people + gear. But seeing Presto's story, I'd be a bit more on the fence about your chances. It's still iffy.

Famof7 wrote:is there another group of mountains that you would suggest, with campgrounds nearby


Grizzly Gulch is a pretty good choice. I do agree that for that timeframe you may encounter some snow, but it's likely to be easy to deal with without resorting to specialized snow gear. I have camped at the Grizzly Gulch trailhead for a couple of nights at a time without any problem - I don't think a couple more days would be a problem.

Another good one might be some part of Belford/Oxford/Missouri/Huron. You could get your minivan to the trailhead for Missouri Gulch and can park at the 2wd parking for Huron, and there is good camping along the road leading to these peaks. Grizzly Gulch is prettier, though (Huron has a nice trail). Elbert/Massive would be another good choice.

All of these may be reasonably busy on weekends in that timeframe (if you wanted other people around), but would probably not be very crowded if you plan for summiting on weekdays.
"Skepticism is the first step towards truth." - Denis Diderot
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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Presto » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:16 pm

Chris just said he went really slow on that road on the way in and out.


This involved having to stop the minivan, get out and check the best route and way to avoid obstacles, and then going really slow to ensure vehicle safety. Trust me when I tell you that I was surprised they were able to make it up and back. But they did.

During that same vacation, and after the Silver Creek stuff, Chris got that minivan past the lowest trailhead for Yankee Boy Basin :wft: ... not a whole helluva lot farther, but farther nonetheless.

Sometimes, it's the driver, not the vehicle. And knowing your vehicle and its limits and capabilities and clearance can make a difference. Just sayin'.
As if none of us have ever come back with a cool, quasi-epic story instead of being victim to tragic rockfall, a fatal stumble, a heart attack, an embolism, a lightning strike, a bear attack, collapsing cornice, some psycho with an axe, a falling tree, carbon monoxide, even falling asleep at the wheel getting to a mountain. If you can't accept the fact that sometimes "s**t happens", then you live with the illusion that your epic genius and profound wilderness intelligence has put you in total and complete control of yourself, your partners, and the mountain. How mystified you'll be when "s**t happens" to you! - FM

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby CarpeDM » Mon Mar 04, 2013 1:41 pm

I completely agree about the driver not the vehicle. I've gotten my Honda Fit to a couple of trailheads that Bill rates as moderate 4wd.

I may take chances with my own car, but when giving advice on here, I figured I'd lean to the conservative side.

Also, for what it's worth to the OP, just noted that Bill rates Grizzly Gulch/Silver Creek as easy 4wd:
"Skepticism is the first step towards truth." - Denis Diderot
"It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition." - Bertrand Russell
"Tell people there's an invisible man in the sky who created the universe, and the vast majority will believe you. Tell them the paint is wet, and they have to touch it to be sure." - George Carlin
"Some say they're goin' to a place called Glory And I ain't saying it ain't a fact. But I've heard that I'm on the road to Purgatory And I don't like the sound of that.
I believe in love and I live my life accordingly. But I choose to let the mystery be" - Iris Dement

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby GeezerClimber » Mon Mar 04, 2013 8:00 pm

I would take a minivan there. Just make sure your tires are good and be careful. Cell phone will not work there.

There is excellent camping spots near the TH. Look arouond and pick a spot. If you are willing to carry stuff for a little ways, you'll find great spots, especially east of the road near the creek.

American basin would be a better TH but your minivan won't cut it. Maybe you can hitch rides with fat Texans on their ATVs. There will be many on the road.

Redcloud and Sunshine combined is not difficult but it is quite long with much of it above timber. When you reach Redcloud, assess how everyone is doing and especially the weather. It is not a short walk out and back.

Have fun.

Dave

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby MikeyC » Mon Mar 04, 2013 9:51 pm

I took a minivan with the family and enough gear for a week to the silver creek/grizzly gulch trailheads. I found a spot just 1/4 mile up the road that I really enjoy camping in. I took the same minivan to the turnoff for American basin as well, but that was a bit more difficult. I think you will do fine on the road. I also think your hiking schedule will be fine as long as this spring is similar to the last couple of years. Have fun. That is one of my favorite spots!

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Famof7 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:33 am

Thank you to all who have replied.

I doesn't look like I'll be attempting the drive to Grizzly Gulch, which is unfortunate, but we are used to adapting and will find a way.

We will probably find a campground.... any suggestions on that? If we do this, how far up could we drive on the days of hiking before having to walk to the Grizzly Gulch TH's and can this be done? A campground with 7 people may be best...just to have the use of restrooms. :lol:

We plan to go during the weekday so fighting crowds or for spots should not be a huge issue.

Again, Thank you.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure".

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Re: What has 14 legs, eats a ton, and loves the outdoors?

Postby Andymcp1 » Wed Mar 06, 2013 8:31 pm

Go for Grizzly Gulch! It is amazing and is well worth whatever extra effort you have to put into getting there. The hikes are not to difficult, and with the few days of aclimating and a nice jaunt up Handies before you will have no issues on redcloud and sunshine. Make sure to descend Handies through American Basin to enjoy those views, they are some of Colorado's best in my opinion. Sure it will add a few miles, but it is well worth it. I have camped there 3 nights with no issues, a few more would be fine im sure.
Enjoy your trip, and make sure you do some prep hikes to get in shape and figure out what you will want to carry with you.

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