Peak(s):  Mt. Lindsey  -  14,042 feet
Date Posted:  08/09/2012
Date Climbed:   08/06/2012
Author:  Mooney Pilot
 Off Route on Lindsey: Do Not Try This at Night  

Having climbed two 14ers on the "Easiest"* list this summer, it was time to step it up and get back on the "Difficult" list. I decided to attempt Mt. Lindsey, as I was meeting my wife and some friends in Red River, New Mexico after my climb, and Mt. Lindsey is one of the closer 14ers to Red River.

Some of the trip reports for Mt. Lindsey had mentioned difficulty in following the trail. So the afternoon before my climb I walked the trail for about a mile all the way to the Huerfano River crossing, and found the trail to be solid and easy to follow.

I often start my hikes well before daylight with the assistance of a headlamp, and decided to do that for my attempt at Mt. Lindsey. The first part of the hike to the river crossing was uneventful. I changed into my pool shoes for the river crossing, and made the crossing with no difficulty.

But after the river crossing I found the trail to be difficult to follow, especially in the dark. Several times I lost the trail and had to retrace my steps to find it again. Then, still in the forest below treeline, I lost the trail completely. I wasn't lost, but I didn't know where I was. And it was another hour before daylight.

After considering my options, I decided to set a course for Mt. Lindsey's summit using my compass and GPS.** If I followed that track, I knew that I would eventually intersect the trail. So I set out on a course of off route rock hopping, slipping and sliding on scree and talus, and occasional scrambling, the first part of which was before daylight.

By mid-morning I eventually intersected the trail at around 12,500 feet. But my off route excursion had worn me out, and I didn't think I had the energy for another 1,500 feet of elevation gain to reach the summit. I studied Lindsey's summit and it didn't look like it was going anywhere. It would still be there if I decided to postpone my summit attempt for another date.

On my hike back to the river crossing, even in broad daylight the trail below treeline was occasionally difficult to follow. When I got to the river crossing my pool shoes were right where I left them. They were a sight for sore eyes.

With all the difficulty that I was having on this hike, I didn't take many picrtures. But I did look back shortly before reaching the trailhead on my return hike, and had a nice view of Blanca Peak that I couldn't resist taking a picture of:


So I won't have a trip report with only one picture in it, here's a view of Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico, that I took in Red River:


On my drive back home from Red River I thought about something that Satchel Paige said about baseball: "You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out. But you have to suit up for all of them." The same thing can be said about a goal of climbing all of the Colorado 14ers.


*There are no easy 14ers.

**Taking along a compass and GPS is not a bad idea.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Deja Vu
08/09/2012 22:44
My friend and I had a similar experience of getting lost before daybreak attempting Mt. Lindsey in mid-July. We ended up turning back as well, which is always a tough decision to make. Your ending quote holds very true!


glad it's not just me...
08/10/2012 19:22
my son and i once lost the correct trail in broad daylight. we must have gone off on a game trail, thinking it would take us where we wanted to go. we ended up following a trail to the top of the valley, where we sat on a rock and ate lunch near the base of blanca peak. it was disappointing that we took a wrong turn, but any time spent in the huerfano valley is a good thing.

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