Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  07/31/2013
Date Climbed:   07/13/2013
Author:  GreenHorn
 Yale - Standard  

Route: Standard. - Denny Creek TH

Round Trip Time: 3:30

I took a while to write this because it felt a bit strange writing a TR for a simple, summer hike on a well-documented route, but the mountain did reinforce a lesson for me that I believe worth sharing. I've provided a little personal background to my hike in the next paragraph, so feel free to skip it if you don't care.

I consider myself a runner with a love for the outdoors - especially mountains. I've competed in running and multi-sport events most of my life and in the past few years have dabbled in some ultra-marathons. Hiking and climbing have become a natural extension of those pursuits. Last year, I had hopes of entering my first 100 miler as well as exploring some long, interesting routes in the mountains. In the process of training, I developed some sort of lower-back/ hip injury that prevented both of those goals -save one nice day in the Sawatch. Outside of a 24-hour adventure race in the fall, I really didn't compete in anything meaningful last year. After taking most of the winter off, I found the same problems plaguing me this spring to the point that my BPW (beers-per-week) far exceed my MPW (miles-per-week). So, any lofty goals have again been shelved, and I just hoped to get in a summit or two on our annual trip to the mountains.

I headed out to the Denny Creek TH from BV around 5:30. There were some scattered clouds, but I could see a break in the weather - so this looked to be a nice morning. It was, as it turned out, the only nice day of our 5 days in BV. I had my pack ready to go and was on the trail at 6:10. I was moving pretty well and saw a few other groups in the first few minutes on the trail, but my lungs were burning in that way that all flatlanders must know. After about 30 minutes my breathing began to normalize, and I could begin to enjoy the hike. I hit tree-line in about 1:10, and as always the Sawatch views were spectacular.


As I continued up the trail above tree-line, I passed a steady string of hikers - all apparently part of a large 'girls hike'. The summit ridge actually came faster than I anticipated and soon I was on the summit - 2:15 into the hike. I spent about 10 minutes on the summit chatting with some other hikers, taking a few photos, and texting Erica (greenhorn1) that I had reached the summit and was heading down.

Summit - north

Summit - south

Once off the ridge, I started to bomb the descent. I rolled my right ankle a few times before realizing it was due to instability from the lift I had put in the shoe in an attempt to correct my chronic hip problems. I stopped to remove the lift and didn't have any further ankle issues. Just before reaching tree line I got to say hello to a marmot that came out to enjoy some sunshine as well as snap a photo of a couple in wedding attire. WTH?
Honeymoon in the Sawatch?

Yellow Belly

The rest of the run went great, cruising through the forest and across the creek crossings. As I headed toward the finish I was feeling very good about this outing. I had handled the altitude pretty well for a flatlander, posted a much faster ascent time than I expected, and was headed for a sub - 3:30 round trip. Then it hit me - the ground that is. I had tripped on a rock, and before I even realized it, I was slamming my right hand and shoulder into the ground before skidding and rolling to a stop. I took a quick inventory of the pain. My hand was bleeding and seriously bruised, maybe worse, but everything else seemed ok. I thought I was covered in dirt, which would be strange on such a rocky portion of trail. As it turns out, I had landed and rolled in a pile of horse apples - even better! I eventually got up and ran the remaining 200 meters to the trailhead and headed back to BV feeling much more humble than I had a few minutes earlier. Point taken Yale - we accomplish only what the mountain allows!
Not the actual pile - but you get the idea

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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