Peak(s):  Jackson, Mt  -  13,670 feet
Date Posted:  08/16/2018
Modified:  08/17/2018
Date Climbed:   08/12/2018
Author:  Jon Frohlich
Additional Members:   Zero and Sprinkles, Paula, tundratif
 A little Zero goes a long way (and brought her friends)   

At sunrise from Holy Cross a few years ago. This is hanging on my wall at home and I thought I should actually climb it.

Trailhead: Beaver Creek Village
Roundtrip distance to summit: ~20 miles
Lower Turquoise Lake: ~7 miles
Humans: 3
Dogs: 3

The logistics of this hike are rather convoluted so I thought this report might actually help someone in the future. When we originally came up with the idea to hike Jackson last weekend we debated between Cross Creek and hiking from Beaver Creek. At the time Beaver Creek sounded simpler and would make for a shorter summit day for an overnight backpack. We turned out to be rather wrong about the simpler part. Our friend Tiffany decided to come with us and drove separately to Beaver Creek. She arrived a bit before us and I got a text saying we weren't allowed to park in the village parking garage as all of the trip reports and trail information stated. Now what? We ended up having to talk to the guard station at Beaver Creek, park in the lot immediately past it, go into the office and get an overnight parking permit for the Elk Lot. I asked the guard if dogs were allowed on the shuttle since we had not anticipated this particular detail. Turns out dogs and backpacks were fine on the shuttle which both amused the tourists (yes, we are hiking with a Pomeranian) and confused them (yes, we are sleeping overnight in the woods).

After stepping off the shuttle in the village we were slightly unclear on which way to go but decided to follow the other hiking tourists. We assumed that most of the other hikers were headed to Beaver Lake about 3 miles up the trail. We ended up first on the Five Senses Trail (somehow we missed one of the senses on the way up and only saw 4) which then joined up with the Beaver Lake Trail. The trail at some points goes next to the road, then on the road, and then through the ski area passing Red Tail Camp and Larkspur Bowl. Eventually the trail becomes the service road on Grouse Mountain and just before 3 miles you enter the Holy Cross Wilderness. Another problem was the trail is hot and not very shaded for the first few miles. Tiffany had gotten on an earlier shuttle and started hiking before us and later said she took some breaks because of the heat. Eventually we caught up to her at Beaver Lake and also took a break in the trees. We had seen no other backpackers to this point and wondered whether anyone would be camped up at the lakes.

Around 6:30pm we reached Lower Turquoise Lake and started examining our camp site choices. Competition for a site was fierce (by that I mean we saw absolutely no one) and after some careful deliberation we picked a wonderful site near the lake and set up camp. We discovered that my water filter was broken and Tiffany's was running into trouble as well so we eventually had to settle for chlorine tabs to treat our water. After a dinner of backcountry shepherd's pie we fought off being tired long enough for it to get dark and watch some of the meteor shower.

Maya is intrigued by dinner. Possibly because of the large amount of bacon that was in it.

We decided to get up at 5am so we could start hiking early. Tiffany had decided she was going to sleep in and hike to the upper lake later so we headed out ourselves with the dogs. The idea was that if we had enough time we'd go for PT 13,433 as well. A little after 6am we got on the trail to the upper lake and after a short hike up while enjoying our morning coffee we spotted a guy camped with his dog and then shortly after the gully we needed to use to ascend to treeline.

Ascent gully. This comes right before you hit the upper lake.
There is a trail in the gully. Kind of....It's a fairly terrible one but it will get you to the upper slopes. We both decided that this would not be a good place for a large group.
At the top of the gully it transitions to grass and then the angle mellows out and you can see some of the upper slopes of Jackson. The actual summit is still almost 2 miles away so you aren't very close at this point. Paula and I took a breakfast break at the top before starting across the tundra. About this point Paula took a sip of water and realized it was empty. Which was strange because we knew it was full when we started. Her pack wasn't soaked and we couldn't figure out where all the water had gone. The mystery of the missing water was baffling.
This was a bit of a problem though. We had about 2.5 liters in my pack and a liter for the dogs. After some discussion and debate we decided to split up the remaining water and go for Jackson. We knew PT 13,433 was off the table but we figured we'd have enough to make Jackson at least. It wasn't ideal but neither of us wanted to turn around.
Around 13,000 feet the summit ridge finally came into view. It looked reasonable from here but there was a tower in the middle that we knew might be easy Class 3.
Maya poses for her hero shot

Zero gets in there too. All 8lbs of her. Her attitude and ability per pound can't be matched.

Gentle slope at the beginning of the ridge

Maya and I went over the top of the tower when we reached it while the rest of the crew went low around to the left. There was even one random cairn on the bypass. The direct approach was fairly easy Class 3 for about 50 feet but the bypass keeps things easier if you happen to have some small dogs climbing with you or just don't want to do it. We did a short Class 3 descent on the far side to get the band back together and then started up the remaining slopes to the summit.

Making it look easy as usual

The other side of the tower

Remaining ascent



We topped out just before 10am and enjoyed the view. The weather was gorgeous and contrary to what we expected the summit was expansive. We could not find a register but there is a benchmark up there.

Sprinkles stands on the benchmark to make sure it's official

Our hiking mascot also made it



Holy Cross over there

Summit photo outtakes are funnier than the good ones. This is what happens when you try to get dogs to pose.

Better. At least 2 dogs looked at the camera that time.

We spent about 40 minutes on the summit before starting to head down. Now it became a bit of a game trying to conserve the water we had left before we got back to the upper lake. On the way back we all went around the tower and skipped the Class 3. Zero found a rocky tunnel to get through one section that only a small 8lb dog could do. Sometimes small size is an advantage in these things.

Grouse Mountain in the distance

The gully back to the lake didn't turn to be all that hard to find on the return and we started down it and looked forward to getting water at the lake. About halfway down we saw Tiffany by the lake and headed down to meet up with her.
We relaxed by Upper Turquoise Lake for a while and treated a bunch of water for the hike down. Tiffany said she'd seen a few people around but there was only one other guy while we were there. Eventually we decided that we still had a 7 mile hike out and we needed to pack up and get moving. We headed down to camp and packed up our site while the dogs all passed out in the grass.
The first four miles on the way out we didn't see anyone except the guy that had been at the upper lakes. At Beaver Lake we shrugged our packs off and took a long break before resigning ourselves to dealing with the hike back into the village. Thankfully it all went fairly quickly and about 5:30pm we strolled into Beaver Creek Village past more confused tourists.
We were curious whether we could find a dog friendly patio for dinner and it turned out that while the Chophouse did allow dogs on their patio we eventually settled on the cheaper Mexican restaurant a level down that also had no issue with our packs and dogs. While we gorged ourselves on food and drinks the dogs all crashed out on the patio.
Table for 6 for our packs please.
Sprinkles is concerned that Zero might be dead
After dinner we got back on the shuttle and headed back to our cars at the Elk Lot. In summary, if you can deal with the logistics of Beaver Creek this is a fantastic hike and not at all busy past Beaver Lake. If being asked questions about how often you sleep in the woods or people staring at your packs bothers you then probably not. If you don't want to deal with either you can do this from Cross Creek instead. A rather unique experience though and we really had fun with it.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148

Comments or Questions

08/16/2018 15:29
You had me at the dog pics. I LOVE the last one. Nice report, Jon!


Going to the Dogs
08/17/2018 12:01
Look at yourselves.
Good stuff, you two.


08/18/2018 22:48
Great beta


08/20/2018 11:57
I LOVE your heeler! Beautiful!


Nice report
08/25/2018 15:55
Appreciate your thoughtful reports and like the dog theme in them. Makes me wish I could have hiked with my dog when she was still here.
Keep putting out the good write ups.

09/07/2019 16:36
I adore people staring at me while I am all packed and ready to go... especially when they do not know what wilderness means...

   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.