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Flatlander Hiking Alone

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby jlouise » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:28 pm

I will be visiting my parents in Buena Vista and would like to do one 14er while I am there later this month. I am a 58 year old woman who is relatively fit. I am not concerned about the altitude as I have done two 14ers, as well as Kilimanjaro (19,340 ft). However, I am concerned about making safe choices. My criteria for choosing a 14er are: 1) Less than 90 minutes drive from Buena Vista, 2) Trail head accessible without 4WD, 3) Easily identifiable trail to avoid getting lost, 4) Popular trail where there will be lots of other people even on a weekday, and 5) Relatively easy hiking to avoid potential personal injury.

So far, Quandary and Democrat are the ones that I am looking at. (I have already done Sherman, which would fit all of the above criteria). Are there better choices than those two? Is one an obvious better choice than the other?

And I guess, I should ask the obvious.......am I a fool for doing a 14er alone?

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby IkeB » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:37 pm

Any of the sawatch 14ers. Huron would be my first recommendation but 4wd to the trailhead cuts it out. La plata is a nice mountain.


Lincoln democrat and bross are nice but depending on the year the road to kite lake can be rough and they are always crowded in my opinion

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby highpilgrim » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:47 pm

Yale would work for you. Easy car access to the TH, a clear trail to the summit and a little easy scrambling on the summit ridge. It is a little steep on the upper climb but not horrible. And very nice views from the top.

And no, doing 14ers alone is not foolish. Just don't overextend yourself. Turn around if you need to; the mountain will be there the next time.
Call on God, but row away from the rocks.
Hunter S Thompson

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby peter303 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:56 pm

Mt. Yale is next to Beuna Vista with the trailhead on a paved road.
Its a longer hike than some other choices. And the last part is not too difficult rock scrambling ridge. In most of the scramble there is a path through it and an occasional cairn.

North of BV is Mt Elbert. Its all walking and no scrambling. The main north-side trailhead is on graded forest road.

Walking through the 4WD parts of Huron road adds four miles and two hours. The road to the 2WD trailhead is graded forest road.

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby Mtnman200 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:02 pm

I recommend Yale also. Nice, scenic trail and not too steep, plus the trailhead is easy to get to. Enjoy!

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby Aug_Dog » Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:20 pm

I would say Huron if you don't mind the added mileage of the 4x4 road. However, there is a very good chance you can hitch a ride up or down, maybe even both. Generally speaking, it's a safe bet that the people that would give you a ride aren't going to harm you. Huron has just amazing views and feels about as remote as they come in the Sawatch, save maybe Holy Cross.
Go get it

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby bigredmachine » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:48 pm

Both democrat and Quandary are going to be good choices. If you do Democrat you will also have the option to hit Cameron and Lincoln as well depending on how you are feeling. However, being in Buena Vista there are so many choices within 30 minutes. Mt Elbert would be my suggestion within 30 minutes. The Northeast Ridge is 2wd accessible, full of people, and has a trail to the summit. Whichever one you choose, research it first, start early and stay on the trail. There are no issues hiking any of these solo, all will have plenty of people on both weekdays and weekends. Enjoy

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby MtnHub » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:11 pm

Yale would be a good choice, but I think La Plata might even be better. Easy paved road access, good laid out trail that would be hard to get lost on, and a really beautiful route. Saw some really beautiful flower displays when I went up in 2011.

And don't worry about going solo on this one. Although it may not be crowded like many, I would be very surprised if you didn't see anyone else on this trail. My guess is you would likely find someone else to tag along with even on a weekday. Go for it!! :-D

Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby JonRunge » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:59 pm

bigredmachine wrote:Both democrat and Quandary are going to be good choices. If you do Democrat you will also have the option to hit Cameron and Lincoln as well depending on how you are feeling. However, being in Buena Vista there are so many choices within 30 minutes. Mt Elbert would be my suggestion within 30 minutes. The Northeast Ridge is 2wd accessible, full of people, and has a trail to the summit. Whichever one you choose, research it first, start early and stay on the trail. There are no issues hiking any of these solo, all will have plenty of people on both weekdays and weekends. Enjoy


2nd this. Democrat should have plenty of fellow hikers, and the road to Kite Lake isn't bad--I've made it no problem in a Ford Escort. It's a short hike, if that's what you want. Elbert (or the Democrat-Cameron etc option) would be perfect if you're looking to rack up more miles.

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby zinj » Fri Jul 05, 2013 9:21 am

All good suggestions - most of the Sawatches have well-defined trails, even above treeline. If you *want* people with you, hike on a weekend.

My personal rule for hiking alone is that I don't permit myself to change the route once I'm on mountain -- I have to stick to where people expect me to be so that if I don't show up at the end of the day, the search area (should be) relatively confined.

In contrast, when I'm hiking with others, we can alter the route as we go. Sometimes we add a peak, descend a different drainage, reverse and come down rather than do a planned traverse to another peak, etc. The larger the group / more "witnesses", the more flexibility I feel in tinkering with plans since it's hard to disappear without a trace.
"Gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict and litigation over water rights, for there is not sufficient water to supply the land." - John Wesley Powell, 1883

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Re: Flatlander Hiking Alone

Postby bvhiker12 » Fri Jul 05, 2013 11:30 am

Although you rarely hike a 14er alone in the summer, I would be happy to join you. I am a 59 year old woman who began climbing 14ers last summer. I live in BV and love getting out in the mountains. I would be happy to climb any peak you choose, we have so many great options close to BV.

Send me a PM so we can exchange contact information for when you are in BV this month.

Chris :-D

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