Peak(s):  Parnassus, Mt  -  13,574 feet
Date Posted:  07/14/2017
Date Climbed:   07/14/2017
Author:  Trailrunner
 Parnassus on a Summer's Day   

Start time: 5:50 a.m.
Summit: 8:20 a.m.
Left summit: 8:35 a.m.
Back to car: 10:00 a.m.

My first solo trip! I've ascended 70 peaks in Colorado, but this was my first time on my own. I admit to being a little nervous, but thankfully that quickly abated! (I must admit that I had a large knife and my mace at hand, so nerves did impact my preparation somewhat!)

Started from the Herman Gulch trailhead - was one of two cars in the lot at that time. Headed up the trail, and quickly reached a fork: took the trail to the right (east). I-70 traffic was easy to hear for awhile. Eventually, the trail curved, leaving the sound of traffic behind.

As you can see in these photos, the trail was well worn/easy to see. I was able to make good time on this trail, thanks to its gentleness and general lack of rocks.
At one point, there used to be a trail sign marking the deviation of the Bard trail, but I did not see that sign today. The trail meandered on, staying strong and going through lovely open areas, populated with a variety of wildflowers. I crossed a trickling brook, and headed straight towards Woods mountain.
After crossing the brook, headed towards Woods Mountain (seen straight ahead in this image)

As I moseyed along this trail, I knew I needed to start thinking about ascending towards the saddle between Woods and Parnassus. I thought I would need to bushwhack, but turns out there was actually a well-worn trail already established. There was a small cairn marking the trail up to the saddle.
Cairn marking the turnoff for Parnassus

The trail remained strong, and I quickly was treated to stunning views behind me, as well as myriad wildflowers in full bloom.


About halfway up to the saddle, the trail abruptly ended. At this point, I decided to just cut to the chase and head straight towards Parnassus. I didn't bother going all the way up to saddle proper, as the slope of Parnassus appeared gentle enough to tackle. Looking behind, I took note that the trail ended at the top of a small dirt gully, so I knew to aim for that gully again on my descent.
Look back down to the little gully. Difficult to see in this picture; the dark green spot of grass in the center is approx. the end of the gully.

Basically I just headed straight up, with a little detour to take pictures of this lovely pair.
Ptarmigan on parade!

As far as 13ers go, this one might have had the fewest false summits I've experienced! There were two sets of rocks that had the appearance of summit blocks, but when you reached each one, you could see the next one waiting not far ahead. At least they didn't give me the sensation of false summit frustration. On the contrary, I knew I was getting really close, and then suddenly I was there.
Bard looks quite prominent from the Parnassus summit. I know a great many people continue on to Bard, but as this was my first solo trek, and as the weather forecast was spotty for the day, I decided one-and-done was more than good enough for me!
Looking towards Bard from Parnassus summit

When I'd had enough of the gorgeous views and windless solitude on top, I went back down the way I came, and enjoyed the gentle grassy slopes, and then back to the well-worn dirt path.
Great peak, and a perfect choice for my first solo hike. Confidence built, I look forward to incorporating more solo ventures here and there!



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

07/16/2017 14:26
I really liked parnassus from that route


07/17/2017 12:14
You rock! VERY nice first 13er solo. I assume you probably didn't see another soul on the mountain?

07/18/2017 20:33
Solo outings are fun, but they can play with your brain. This peak (and some neighbors) is (are) high on my list; hoping to get up there this year. Thanks for the write-up!

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