Peak(s):  Peak X - 12,429 feet
X Prime - 12,100 feet
Kenosha Peak - 12,100 feet
Date Posted:  06/14/2009
Date Climbed:   06/13/2009
Author:  Derek

 The Rest of the Alphabet  

June 13th, 2009

"Peak X" - 12,429'
"X Prime" - 12,100'
"Kenosha Peak" - 12,100'

Long Gulch Trailhead - SOLO

Distance : Around 11.25 miles
Elevation : Around 3,400'

For the third time in three weeks, I was driving down 285 with a destination centered in the Lost Creek Wilderness. The previous week, the long combo of Bison and McCurdy with members Greenhouseguy and Zoomie83 had provided my highlight hike of the year thus far. The week before that, a camp-out with my girlfriend along the Ute Creek and a hike to Bison Arm had also proved to be enjoyable.

This week I was solo, and had my sights set on cleaning up some unfinished business from last fall. Specifically, an unfinished alphabetizer. Last fall, I had hiked Zephyr, Peak Z and Peak Y however did not complete my way up to Peak X and X Prime. I had been putting off my return for a while, and with the weatherman practically guaranteeing a weather related Armageddon that day, I decided it would be a good time to scoop up the remainders in the short combo hike from Long Gulch TH.

I reached Long Gulch trailhead (10.7 miles in from the turnoff of 285) around 7:00 AM. One other car resided in the parking area, ensuring that I probably would not be having a lot of company on this hike.

I started up the trail and quickly passed by the intersecting Colorado trail. Turning left leads to Kenosha Pass and heading right would take you up towards Lost Park Campground. I continued straight. The trail starts heading east, and gradually angles left towards the north. Having been on this trail before, you would think I would remember the trail angling. However I did not. The trail becomes hard to follow in a few spots, and me being lost in my own thoughts continued east. I realized mistake before too long, and using my map and compass I bushwhacked and angled back to meet the original trail without a loss of elevation and less than a mile of off route hiking.

View from the ascent of the gulch

Further up the gulch

As I gained altitude, it became quite apparent that the fog from the morning had not yet cleared. All visibility outside of the immediate gulch was obstructed. After rising above treeline, I knew where I was based on my map and compass, however I was reluctant to branch off towards the base of Peak X which I could not see. With the fog being so heavy and showing no sign clearing, I was not looking forward to the possibility of slogging through wet willows trying to find the trail on the return trip.

View from the saddle

At this time, I knew I was at the large, flat saddle of Peak X and Peak Y. It was here that I began an internal debate on whether I should turn around due to the visibility issue. It was also here among the willows and cow pies that I was suddenly blasted by a gust of wind. Immediately, the fog began to to disperse and my debate was solved. I turned left and headed straight up the side of Peak X.

Peak Y from the side of Peak X

Looking back towards Long Gulch

Looking up towards the summit area of Peak X. The rock window can be seen near the center

After a very short time, I topped out on the SE sub-summit of Peak X. While this mound did not provide the official summit, it did have a very picturesque window rock. After enjoying this interesting formation, I worked on over to the main summit.

The view of Long Gulch from the window rock.

Looking back from the main summit. My footprints can be seen leading from the window rock.

After a quick stay on top and a quick register signing, I descended quickly to the Peak X/X Prime saddle. A few bushes were to be whacked to cross over the saddle, but in short time I topped out on the second peak of the day. At first, I ascended to the top of the official summit. However, after not being able to find the register for the peak and consulting my (incorrectly labeled) Nat Geo map, I descended the correct summit and traversed over to the incorrect summit. Argh.

X Prime from the saddle.

Willows to be crossed.

Looking back at Peak X, Peak Y, and Peak Z.

At this point, I had accomplished what I had planned for the day. However, the weather was still looking great and off in the distance I could see the unimpressive lump of Kenosha Peak. As unimpressive as it was, it was my final 12er in the LCW and a separate trip up to the peak was not appealing to say the least. So I headed out on the 2 mile traverse over to Kenosha from X Prime. Very little gain is required on the traverse, however I took the option of ascending each of the 2 "sub points" along the way which provided a little up and down.

Kenosha Peak as seen from X Prime.

I arrived to the summit point shortly with an underwhelming thought of "Seriously? This is it? I traveled how far from the interesting rocks of Peak X for this bump?" I guess after a week of Bison, McCurdy, and Peak X, the blandness of the summit just took me by surprise.

X Prime and Peak X in the distance from the summit of Kenosha. It looks further than it is.

"Platte Peak" and Shawnee from Kenosha Peak.

I was beginning to notice a significant cloud build up over the Mt. Evans area to the NE that had not previously been there. Though this was of no direct worry to me, I was cautious that a similar quick cloud build up could appear to my west. So I was faced with two options: 1- Descend the standard Kenosha Peak trail back to South Ben Tyler TH (and possibly hike unranked Foster BM on the way down) and get below treeline quickly or 2- go back the way I came which involved more up and down, but less distance.
As option 1 required a minimum of 4 miles to reach the S. Ben Tyler TH and an additional 3.5 miles back to the Long Gulch TH where I was parked, I chose option 2.

As I scurried back my original ascent route, I decided to do a quick re-summit of X Prime to look again for the summit register just to verify. I eventually found the register very well hidden under some rocks.

The rest of the descent went by smoothly and quickly aside from some additional willow bashing and cow pie stepping.

Views from treeline on Peak X.

The trail back down the gulch can be gained at the rocks left of center

Regaining the trail

Views on the descent.

Descending the gulch.

Some bright greenery.

Why, yes I was. Thank you for asking.

The only other people I saw during the day was a group setting up tents near the creek on my descent, and a couple heading up from the TH as I arrived back at my truck.

The rain had held off, and I was happy to enjoy a great day in the LCW.




 Comments or Questions

06/15/2009 04:29
The LCW 12ers were a lot of fun. X Prime had a good wild feel to it, the knobs on X were cool, there were some cool rocks and a ”mini-keyhole” on Y, the summit boulder on Z was a challenge, Zephyr had a fun scramble on the summit boulder, and Bison/McCurdy were the most incredible of the lot. Kenosha was the only disappointment in the whole group. Congratulations on finishing the 12ers. The 32 ranked 11ers in the Retirement Range might take a while.

Steve Knapp

Great report
06/15/2009 18:36
Nice job on these, the LCW is awesome. Adding Kenosha is a bit of a haul for sure. A couple weeks ago I did the whole Alphabetizer plus Payne BM and ”No Payne”. It was a 17.5 mile day. Cool report with nice pictures.

Vermont Mike

06/16/2009 04:26
Nice work Derek, glad to see you and Greenhouseguy have finished those 12ers. I climbed South Tarryall Peak that morning on my way to camp at Guanella Pass and like you saw nobody. Hope to get up most of those LCW peaks eventually, maybe I‘ll run into you guys again!


06/16/2009 14:43
Nice job Derek! There‘s just not enough time to balance my 14er addiction with some trips in this direction, but maybe this fall I‘ll make it a priority to get back up there and finish that Alphabetizer deal. I‘m headed to the San Juans the first week of July, let me know if you‘re available to connect for a hike or two!

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