Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Date Posted:  08/17/2009
Date Climbed:   08/15/2009
Author:  Barrett Cooper

 Handies fun  

My wife and I set out on a belated anniversary trip down to Lake City. our anniversary is in April but what can I say, life gets in the way sometimes and it took a while to get us together on a 14er this year.

Was an interesting day on Handies. We ended up having rain, hail, high winds, and sunshine all in about the first 30 minute stretch of our hike. But then again maybe that is the normal part of a 14er experience, the old wait 5 minutes and the weather will change on you. All in all a good day on the peak and not nearly as crowded as we expected.

Updates for all those going down there.
We got my Ford Fusion up to the split where American basin and cinnamon pass road separate. We decided not to take it across the creek and ended up parking just below the junction at a pull off. I am a good driver, but not that good. All in all the road was not in bad shape to get a 2wd up to the American basin turnoff, but it was not as easy or as short as I thought it would be. Consider hiking from Grizzly Gulch if you have any lack of confidence about the finer points of delicately driving a sedan up a rough road.

Almost all the good wildflower viewing is gone. There are still some fine patches of the hardiest flowers, but the "Ooooh, Ahhhh" stuff is gone in my opinion.

When you get done stop in at the San Juan Soda Shop in the historic district of Lake City. Were pointed to it by some friends and in the back is some of the best waffle cone ice cream scoops around. Will not be disappointed.

We were considering doing the traverse, up Grizzly Gulch and down American Basin and the road back to our car. Not sure on the totals but believe it would have been about 5 miles of road walking to get back to our car from the American basin trailhead. Glad we decided not to do it as that would have stunk at the end of what is a nice area to hike in.

Pictorial of our trip:
The Goal

Looking up the basin

Lots of ptarmigans. Counted a few during the hike, mostly below the lake. They are already starting to change to white by the looks it.

Pretty shot of my wife and the basin/lake.

A great 11th year anniversary shot if I ever saw one.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Happy Anniversary!
08/18/2009 13:22
And what a great place to spend it. Gotta love Lake City. I would move there today if I could. Where in Lake City did you stay or did you camp? My two oldest kiddos and I did the GG up & AB down loop last year. It added right at 3 more miles round trip and was well worth it. Great views all around and we actually had about 10 cars stop and ask if we wanted rides. Lots of tourist traffic on the Alpine Loop that day.

Barrett Cooper

08/20/2009 02:31
It was a great trip. We actually messed up our reservation so we ended up camping one night of this trip. Love the town though and we stay at the Matterhorn Motel ( when we go there. Always been friendly to us and are right in town. Other thing to do if you get a chance is go to a movie in town, it is an experience. Great small town theater built in a retrofitted storage building/barn by the looks of it. And the theater owner seems really nice.

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