Collegiate Peaks High Adventure 2011 – Day 1
Day one started out with a 2.5 hour drive to the trailhead. We got on the road at 06:00 with a long trip ahead of us.
The plan was to drive two vehicles to the North Cottonwood Trailhead west of Buena Vista. Then while the boys waited, we would shuttle another car over to the Denny Creek Trailhead where we would be coming out on Thursday afternoon. It was only an 18 mile trip to arrange the shuttle, but it took a full hour because of the road conditions. Needless to say, everyone was anxious to get on the trail by the time we made it back.
Our hike would be somewhere between 5 and 6 miles, with some good climbing in the second half. We wanted to get as high as we could without going too far beyond treeline because of the threat of storms. Our original plan was to camp at Bear Lake, but it was very exposed so we opted to stay just a bit lower. This high camp would set us up nicely for the hike to the summit of Mt. Harvard the next morning.
We shouldered the packs, which is always a wake-up call at the start of a trip, and headed down the trail. It was easy going for the first mile and a half which made for a nice warmup.
After that we crossed a river and got started on the climb. Which is always another slap in the face on day one. Oooof. My legs were very tired, but I was happy they didn’t feel sore at all after running a 50 mile race two days prior.
After that, it was grind, rest, repeat. Eventually we made it to treeline and decided to stop there due to the variable skies.
We made it to our campsite a little earlier than planned because we stopped short, but this gave us plenty of time to hang out and explore the area.
We had a clear view of the morning’s objective behind our camp. It looked close, but the summit was still 2.5 miles and 2,300 vertical feet away.
The clouds began to rapidly roll in later in the day and thunder rumbled up and down the canyons. The next shot is one of my favorite ones of the whole trip. It’s not that remarkable at first glance, until you see what the clouds are doing. A huge wall of dark clouds was headed right for us, but Mt. Yale (another 14er across from us) saved the day. Acting every bit of the upturned wedge that it is, the peak split the clouds in two as they rapidly moved our direction. Keeping us in the tranquil wake for quite a while. It was awesome!
Things shifted after some time and we eventually did get a little rain. Nothing very bad, though. The worst of it missed us and dumped 3 inches on Breckenridge later that night.