Peak(s):  Mt. Oxford  -  14,153 feet
Mt. Belford  -  14,197 feet
Date Posted:  07/09/2008
Date Climbed:   07/08/2008
Author:  Matt

 Pulling another thorn from my side  

Gear: 3 liters of water in Gatorade bottles, ¼ sub from Real Subs in BV, almond M&Ms, trail runners, some extra clothes, Canon G9, intention to summit Oxford.

This is my first TR of 2008. June was a month of travel (Croatia, Missouri, Boston) to places at or near sea level. During June, I got a wicked respiratory infection, tweaked my knee, ate tons of my mom & grama's comfort food, and did absolutely nothing to prepare for the summer. So, I decided to start out solo for the first few peaks to get my mountain lungs and endurance back without spoiling a day for anyone who's bothered to stay in shape. This meant balking at some amazing trips that have been recently documented here on The take home message is stay in shape or you can miss out on the fun!!!
Having committed to finishing off the list of 14ers by Labor Day, the fun began in earnest on Mt. Massive 10 days ago, but losing my camera meant no TR was to be had.
I decided to remove some long-buried thorns in my side—Tabeguache and Oxford, both of which I'd previously missed out on. After putting Tab out of my misery on Sunday, it was time to take on Oxford again. Last time, I stepped in the creek on the ascent, and my feet were frozen by the time I reached Belford's snowy summit. This one would be different…
I awoke at 5:35 a.m. to the realization that I need a new (louder) alarm clock. I was already running late, but gathered my stuff, slammed a NOS energy drink, and hit the trail at 6:05 a.m.

This is a fairly straightforward hike that's been TR'd to death. However, I was grateful to user Brad for his recent write up that had useful beta (like I didn't need to bring an ice axe for glissades), so here goes another. If I'd seen Billygoat's alternate route, I'd have tried to duplicate that. That's what TRs are really about, anyway. Rare is the TR posted that includes a first ascent. We're simply sharing uniquely personal adventures on shared routes and peaks. This is my story of the day.

That being said, I started trucking toward treeline, not really looking around much or stopping to take pictures, just listening to the rushing water alongside the trail and breathing in the fresh piney mountain air. Here's the first pic, taken about an hour in near the Elkhead Pass trail junction:
As Bill says, "the work ahead is obvious," so I put the pedal to the metal and headed for the "flat spot" at 13,900 ft. The views were awesome.
Exactly three hours after signing in at the TH, I stopped at Belford's summit. The USGS marker hasn't yet been stolen…
No 14er summit is anticlimactic—it was a bluebird day thus far, and Missouri Gulch is underrated for its beauty, IMO--but I had Oxford on my mind. I stopped long enough to wolf down some M&Ms, take a few pics, gulp some water, and forget my sunglasses on a rock. Inspired by this year's threads on "what music do you like on the trail?" I grabbed the iPod, hit shuffle, and took off for Oxford at 9:25.
It looks like a long way, but proved to be more fun than effort. Time above treeline is precious to me, great for reflection and inspiration. Ideas and insight just flow because I feel free and so alive... Having a clear sky means time to enjoy this state of affairs, and I was sure grateful. Usually, I don't hike with music, but my iPod shuffled through some "random" tunes and lyrics that seemed oddly apropos for where I was at the time and what I'm thinking about these days.
As I plunged down toward the Belford/Oxford saddle...
Toto: Gonna take some time to do the things we never had (like Oxford)
Grateful Dead: Nothin' left to do but smile, smile, smile
Screeching Weasel: Do you believe in your own fictitious immortality?

The flowers and scenery were resplendent.


Here's the last push toward the top of Oxford:
Sly and the Family Stone had this to say, and I was down for it: I want to take you higher

Once on the summit, I rejoiced at having it to myself and took a few minutes to relax. After 15 minutes or so, I was joined by a guy from Golden named Nate. He snapped a pic for me, and I returned the favor.

Clouds were beginning to show their ugly side, so we eyed the return trip and took off.

It's amazing how fast things go when you have good conversation to focus on. Before we knew it, we were back on Belford. We met some folks in their 60s who came in from Florida to do some climbing. I really hope I can pull that off 30 something years from now. Talk about inspiration! Nate took off to find his friend who'd bailed well before the summit, I ate my sandwich, and then took off, turning the iPod back on to see what would come up.

Phish kicked off the descent with a classic live "You Enjoy Myself." Looking around at Missouri Gulch and beyond, I sure did, but didn't see the way to Firenze…
Soon, the weather started looking ugly and I picked up the pace. Being short is a blessing when it's time to haul ass down steep terrain.
As I sped downward, the song "Divided Sky" began to play. I stopped and took a couple pics facing opposite directions because no song could be more appropriate. I love the mountains...
Grateful Dead: I had move, really had to move
Then, SCI: Black clouds rollin' up the valley, black clouds cover up the sun

The wind and graupel picked up their assault, and I hurried down to treeline. Of course, as I reached the Elkhead Pass junction, the weather cleared up and "O Fortuna" by the Disco Biscuits began flowing into my ears. Life is good.
I jogged down to the TH, grabbed the requisite beer, (Anchor Liberty Ale), checked out the pics, packed up my stuff and hit the road for Leadville to plan for the next jaunt above treeline.
Great day!!!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

that was you...
02/05/2011 00:22
I ran into on Tab Sunday... just now putting 2 and 2 together...


very nice-a!
07/09/2008 19:35
had some good tunes along the way i see. dead, string cheese, phish.. 8)


Tune -- I do it too!
07/09/2008 19:39
Sometimes it enhances rather than detracts from the experience. Very nice report!


Good work!
07/09/2008 21:57
I am glad my TR was helpful; I actually took 84 pics on our trip but had to choose the 20 best to describe the trip. It sounds like you made better time than we did though.


Check check . . .
11/30/2010 17:28
goes the list. You're down into single digits now aren't you?? Getting close to finishing them Matt, Great job!

P.s. Look me up for that finisher! What's it gonna be? The Bells? Wilson Peak?


11/30/2010 17:28
you hippy.

Divided Sky would be a fitting song for the occasion, as would the infamous "Fluffhead".

Good to see you slowly pickin those thorns out, Tabeguache should be a fun one.

When you are done finishing off those 14ers, come join me on some IPW adventures.


01/19/2011 03:38
Covfrrider-Now that we know "4" is the answer, hope to see you again.
Benners-You'll have to guess again. Nothing so glamorous, but come anyway!
Lord Cartman-We will have to hit the IPW before then. Fluffhead...
Liv, love the avatar.
Brad, thanks again. I took a shiteload of pics, too.


07/11/2008 01:09
Good TR. Wish I Knew you were in the area, I was camped two drainages over near the Apostles/Huron escaping the brutal heat. Hey, Long live Hippies! : )


07/11/2008 02:32
Hey Matt, glad to hear you are having success in the Sawatch. I don‘t know how, but I got Tab and Oxford the first time around. See you! Jen


Nothin’ left to do but smile, smile, smile
07/12/2008 00:31
One of my favorite Dead lyrics fo sho! Great report, Matt. Stellar selection of tunes & always manage to pull ‘em off in style! Glad to see you ‘back on the horse‘. Just make sure it‘s not horse-with-no-ass in Prakash‘s avatar.


10/22/2008 10:35
Nice write up, Matt! I love how you incorporated the lyrics in to the report! That‘s a pretty cool idea!
I‘m seeing Snowmass approaching pretty quickly through the windshield!!!

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