Peak(s):  Mt. Princeton  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  07/08/2007
Date Climbed:   07/07/2007
Author:  JasonF

 Mt. Princeton - The Old Fashioned Way  

Party: Jason Solo
TH: 5:45 AM
Summit: 9:30 AM
Start Descent: 10:00 AM
TH: 1:00 PM

This report may not be as exciting as other reports as I have no pictures to share however it was a very great trip for me and my family. We decided to do some tent camping (2 nights) in preparation for our family vacation to Yellowstone NP later this summer. Arrived at the Mt. Princeton RV Park (they have 5 tent sites) Friday afternoon and set up camp, while the kids played at the onsite park. We then hung around BV - ate at K‘s and played frisbee at the adjacent park. Got back to the campsite and had a great campfire with marshmallows. Were able to spend some time with nearby tent campers from TX who were wrapping up a 8 day visit to our fine state. Turned in around 10PM with clear skies. Woke without my watch alarm at 4:30 AM - our air mattress didn‘t get filled enough so I didn‘t get great sleep the first night. Drove over to the onsite clubhouse and got changed & finished my day pack prep. Loaded the two kids into the van and woke the missus and left for the TH at 5:15.

Without a 4WD I started at the main TH (8900‘). There were several vehicles at the parking lot - not sure if this was used for the CO Trail access or for the Young Life camp nearby. My family was treated to 4-5 mule deer that crossed the trail while I was gearing up - pretty cool!! Made it to the radio towers around 7AM - I didn‘t eat enough before starting and didn‘t hydrate well enough either so I began to feel the affects shortly after hopping off the road.

The trail to the summit is rather unexciting as you can see the entire route most of the way after leaving the road - and it only offers views of the Arkansas Valley (not that the Valley isn‘t exciting it‘s just that I‘ve seen it plenty of times). I had to stop for 20 minutes around 13,200‘ for a pit stop to eat and hydrate, something I usually do at the summit.

Finally made the summit and signed the log. Prior to descending I was able to communicate with my wife on our walkie talkies - pretty cool as we‘d never used them before!!!

Any whooo - the rest is history and I won‘t bore you with the descent details, except it‘s pretty exciting to have your 3 & 5 year olds (and my wife of course) greet you on the path near the TH

As a recap of our trip I offer the following "review":

Thumbs Up:
1. Mt. Princeton RV Park - The Owners, Jeff and Cindy, are great people. We also enjoyed the "acoustic jam" Saturday night. They have great shower facilities and a clubhouse where you can cook meals, watch tv, do laundry, hang out, etc.
2. K‘s - awesome food and shakes.
3. The people and essence of BV - a tourist trap without all the flare like Breck. Prices are reasonable and locals are very friendly.
4. Hikers - This is well frequented route and I didn‘t see a single piece of trash.
5. The view - nothing like waking up from your tent to see Mt. Princeton.
6. Mt. Princeton Hot Springs - we visited the springs this morning after leaving the campsite. Although the prices are somewhat steep for what you get ($10 adult, $7 kids) I would highly recommend it one time - visit the creekside pools.
7. St. Elmo - we first visited this "ghost town" 5 years ago during a family trip to view fall foliage. Although it‘s much prettier during the change of leaves it‘s still a pretty cool little town.

Thumbs Down:
1. Having to go back home
2. Coyote Cantina - I have heard many great things about this place however our experience was pretty lousy. They were extremely busy although aren‘t they always? Food arrived very late, food was luke warm, messed up my order, stupid idiot sitting at next table chain smoking - need I say more?

If you‘ve read this far thanks for your time. As I near the end of my Sawatch 14er experience it feels only natural to wax nostalgic about my time driving up and down Hwy 24 and 285. I will definately miss getting up in the wee hours of the morning to drive down 285 and the awesome view of seeing Mt. Princeton as you come into Johnson Village. This is a great place for family trips and we will return again - many times I hope.


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