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Hiking in Mid-May

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Hiking in Mid-May

Postby hmelch » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:19 am

Hi All,

I'm planning a week long trip in Colorado in mid-May and was looking for a little direction.

Among other activities, we've got several days for hiking(climbing). We're flying into Denver, but will be traveling west to Grand Junction, so really anywhere from RMNF to Grand Junction is our playground.

I'm looking for some suggestions on some epic day hikes. I'd like to bag a 14er, but i'm not sure what the snow situation is like this year. I am an experienced/fit hiker, but my technical skills limited. Are there 14er's in mid-May that can be climbed with out a rope? What other peaks/hikes are a must do over the course of 3 or 4 days?

Thanks in advance!
Howard

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby jeremy27 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:39 am

Apart from the usual warning about acclimatization, I'll suggest you check trailhead conditions and trip reports/peak conditions on here the week before your trip. Someone will post conditions on Grays/Torreys or Bierstadt or X?X before your trip which will offer more helpful information than a guess by someone on here two-months out from your arrival date. Good luck.

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby peter303 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 10:51 am

The south side of Loveland Pass has low snow most months of the year. You can often hike the first three tundra subpeaks in the SE (Sniktau) or SW (Cupid) directions in May. These are 13K peaks. If the snow has all melted you can go further. I-70 Exit 216 to the top.

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby hmelch » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:38 pm

Thanks guys.

The Grays/Torreys peaks trailhead looks like it's easily accessed from Route 70 - so those look like the obvious choice.

Definitely going to take a day or 2 to acclimate. I've hiked at 13k before, and living at sea level, it can be harsh.

Any other good day hike options out there? I was looking at the possibility of heading to Rocky Mountain NP for a day or two from Denver, before heading South and West. Any good hikes to be had in mid-May in RMNP?

Thanks

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby peter303 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:09 am

In mid may you could hike the Long Peaks trail to the Chasm lake turnoff or the boulder field. Theres likely to be ice after those spots.

Trail Ridge Road is usually manageble for hiking/jogging/biking, but still closed to vehicles. You can usually park at the Rainbow stop right at treeline. An active snow plow may block your way at some point.

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby randalmartin » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:23 am

hmelch wrote:I'm looking for some suggestions on some epic day hikes. I'd like to bag a 14er, but i'm not sure what the snow situation is like this year. I am an experienced/fit hiker, but my technical skills limited. Are there 14er's in mid-May that can be climbed with out a rope? What other peaks/hikes are a must do over the course of 3 or 4 days?
Thanks in advance!
Howard


I would suggest Quandary as a good 14er objective for May. Trailhead is easy to get to, and it gets enough foot traffic that their is a good trench in place unless you go right after a storm. I would avoid Bierstadt at all cost in May. The post-holing across the willows can be among the worst you will ever experience.

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby B[3] » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:37 am

randalmartin wrote:I would avoid Bierstadt at all cost in May. The post-holing across the willows can be among the worst you will ever experience.


Where was this advice two days ago?! :lol: My solo bushwack through the Scott Gomer Ck drainage yesterday en route to Gray Wolf was an experience to remember. Still not sure if I would have been better with or without the snowshoes. Sometimes, the snowshoes provided flotation and other times, they were hard to extricate from the snow. For the first time I can remember, I aimed for the willows, as they often provided firmer snow (although not always...).
Learn from the mistakes of others--you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.--Unknown
Don't chase your dreams, catch them.--Unknown

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby hmelch » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:56 am

randalmartin wrote:I would suggest Quandary as a good 14er objective for May. Trailhead is easy to get to, and it gets enough foot traffic that their is a good trench in place unless you go right after a storm. I would avoid Bierstadt at all cost in May. The post-holing across the willows can be among the worst you will ever experience.


Would you expect, given this years conditions, for there to be a need to use microspikes or an ice axe on Quandary?

Thanks!
Howard

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby Jay521 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:55 pm

randalmartin wrote:I would avoid Bierstadt at all cost in May. The post-holing across the willows can be among the worst you will ever experience.

I've done Bierstadt on or near my b/day (in May) for almost the last 40 years or so. And yes, some (most?) years it can be a little troublesome. But if one goes early, you can dodge some of the post holing nightmare. It also helps to have oversize snowshoes. See my TR from a couple years back. It really wasn't all that bad.

And last year, the snow was so not there that I drove to the pass and hiked to the top with no snowshoes at all. Seemed like cheating...
I take the mountain climber's approach to housekeeping - don't look down

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby s_stratto » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:46 pm

If you are heading toward Grand Junction, you may want to check out Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs. It is not epic, in terms of distance or elevation gain... only 2 miles roundtrip (1,000 ft elevation gain). But you shouldn't have any issues with snow, and it is not far from I-70. You can do the whole thing, including spending some time enjoying the scenery at the top, in only a couple of hours.

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Re: Hiking in Mid-May

Postby peter303 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:21 am

Lots of April snow north of I-50 this year. Still a drought to the south. More low-snow hiking opportunities to the south.

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