Peak(s):  Humboldt Peak  -  14,064 feet
Date Posted:  07/04/2012
Modified:  07/05/2012
Date Climbed:   06/30/2012
Author:  mspalding
 Menagerie w/Babies - South Colony Trail  

Humbolt is a fun straightforward climb. And today it was a good wildlife viewing adventure.

For your reference it was a 3.5hr drive from Golden. Any vehicle can make it to the lower trailhead. But do yourself a favor and use a four wheel drive vehicle to avoid the boring road walk. I believe you will need a four wheel drive to get to the upper trailhead. I watched a Volvo AWD try three times before it made it over one section. There are a couple of steep areas with near car sized craters. At the trailhead there were only large 4wd trucks, my older model Rav4 (short wheel base), and the Volvo (congrats to Pam and Ted for getting it there!)

The latest in toilet facilities? How do these work?

The trail is excellent. I always bring a map, but it wasn't necessary, except for one fork. When you are passing the South Colony Lake, the trail branches and the wrong one looks more used. Stay to your right.
These trees by Colony Lake work hard to stay alive.

There has been a lot of work completed on the trail. An amazing amount of deadfall has been cut and removed. There is one huge bridge and a couple of log bridges. In one area the rock fill on a creek is so good you may think you should turn and follow it.
You get great views of the Crestone Needle most of the route. I also got to watch 4 climbers work their way up the face during my 4 hour climb.
The Infamous Crestone Needle

Can you see the dots? (about 2/3 up the picture and 1/5 up the wall)

Super Zoom

The Upper Colony Lakes

It isn't necessary for this climb, but you may want to take advantage of the many campsites around both of the Upper Colony lakes. There is also a meadow with a group campsite on your left about 15 minutes walk up from the signs at the old upper parking lot (end of the road).

From the lakes on up, Humbolt was overrun with Marmots. I've never seen so many so close to each other. And they are so used to humans that they don't even call out warning chirps.
Can you spot the Marmot?

Also, I learned that Marmots eat the lichen off the rocks. I watched several of them using their front teeth to scrape it off.
Umm, lichen

Along the zigzaging trail to the shoulder I encountered these guys. At first I only saw the mom.
She kept butting the bush and then chewing

Then 3 lambs joined her. The lambs started down the trail and would have run me over. But mom snorted and guided them around me.

The lambs were playing and rarely ate anything

When they got to a lower level, they were joined by two more lambs! One mom with 5 lambs? Is this possible? Was she running a day care?
One of the two additional lambs.

When I reached the shoulder some darker clouds threatened but they turned fluffy and white within a half hour.
There were 4 folks on the summit and 6 arrived later. I saw a total of 13 climbing Humbolt.

After making the summit and enjoying the beautiful day and awesome views, I headed down. Past the lakes and before the old upper parking lot I received my final treat. I spotted my first Ptarmigan.

I stayed still but she was nervous and even walked into the middle of the trail as if she wanted me to chase her.
She started walking down the middle of the trail. Was she leading me away? Or was it just easier walking?

She then hopped up on a pile of debris, clucked and surprise! two chicks flew from the underbrush to join her.
This image is dark - my camera wasn't fast enough to catch the chicks bursting out of the underbrush.

This was an excellent hike and the wildlife made it amazing. Climb Humbolt now while the babies are still there.

8:15 start, 9:25 old upper lot signs, 11:10 shoulder and 12:35 summit.

Have a great hike!

Part of the severe deadfall everywhere. It must have been a vicious winter.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

 Comments or Questions

07/05/2012 14:20
I noticed those toilet bag dispensers on my way to crestone last weekend. I guess they have dog poop bag dispensers for humans now.

Nice wildlife photos and good spot of the climbers on crestone.


07/05/2012 14:46
I'm pretty sure the guys you saw on the Arete were the ones we saw the next morning on top of Brokenhand Pass. They didn't top out until 9:00 PM the night before

I guess they bivied up near the summit somewhere. They looked pretty haggard but at least they made it down safe.

Also I think we saw the same bird when we hiked in on the 30th! She had a bunch of babies with her and was right off the trail sitting on an old log.

07/05/2012 17:21
I dunno if you're just using a generic term to describe the young'ens, but technically adolescent sheep (bighorn, in this case) are called lambs (kids are adolescent goats).

Greg and I did a double-take when we saw that travel toilet dispensary near the TH a couple of weeks ago. I think the Forest Service put that out there because South Colony Lakes is a high-use area. Too much human poop around the campsites!

Great wildlife photos!


Sweet Report!!
07/05/2012 18:23
I loved Humboldt and this report just makes me want to go back and do it again! Nice pictures and great adventure. Keep it up!

Thanks for all the comments.
07/05/2012 22:07
@tmathews - thanks for the correction, I grew up with goats and naturally used the ”kids” term. As per your suggestion I changed that to ”lambs”.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.