Seven Bridges and Kineo Mountain 9,478

Thomas
went to camp this morning, and after Emily and I volunteered at the Humane Society
this afternoon the girls went to Denver for an event, so I decided to take an
evening hike. 
I usually hike in the
morning, but the opportunity arose and I couldn’t waste it.

I
had a difficult time deciding which hike to take, but in the end chose Seven
Bridges, with a possible summit of Kineo Mountain. 
The only reason I wanted to hike Mt. Kineo was I saw it listed on the
map.
  There wasn’t an established trail
that could take me there.
  I did some
research, and there wasn’t much information on Mt. Kineo.
  There were only 2 posts available online, no
trail maps, and those who’d hiked it had done it with snowshoes.
  I decided to take the hike because I wanted a
bit of a challenge, but not too much (as I was still sore from this weekend’s
hiking).
  I was looking for something
with an incline that round trip was about 7 miles.

I
figured with an evening hike I’d miss all the crowds out for Father’s Day. 
I was sadly disappointed.  I drove to Cheyenne Canyon and my spirits
dropped as I passed every single turnoff and parking area overloaded with
vehicles.
  Some were so full it was
difficult to get one car through, let alone two.
  I drove to the last parking area, was
extremely lucky/surprised to find the only spot available was right near the
trailhead, parked, and watched the several vehicles behind me go back down the
road, unable to find a parking spot. 

Whew!  Ok, now to make sure I was in the right
spot.
  I’ve never actually hiked this
area before, and there were no obvious signs except this one… Good thing it’s
the 18
th!

Even
though I wasn’t 100% positive I was in the right area I figured I’d hike anyway
because I’d driven this far and honestly any hike was better than none.  
The trail was packed with families, dogs,
strollers, and motorcycles (even though they were not allowed on this
particular trail, the signs indicated so, and the other hikers were not amused).
  Luckily they were all making their way back
to the trailhead.
  I was the only one
hiking in.
  

Just
by chance I took a turnoff to the right, and boom, I was on the seven bridges
trail. 
Awesome!  That’s what I’d come for!

Just
because, here are the 7 bridges, in order of appearance.

Between
bridge 3 and 4 I lost my camera lens cover. 
I was moving over to the side so another hiker could pass on his way
down, and the string got caught in some branches.
  I didn’t realize what was happening until I
got to bridge 5.
  I figured I’d just pick
it up on my way back (unfortunately it wasn’t there). 

The
hike was a steady uphill climb that crossed the North Cheyenne Creek 7 times.

It
was a rather quick and beautiful hike, and the weather was perfect. I’d made it
to the last bridge and looked at my directions for Kineo Mountain. 
I’d told myself I’d only hike it if the
weather looked good, I had enough daylight, and I wasn’t too tired.
  I wasn’t’ tired at all (it had only been
about a 2 mile hike thus far) it was a clear day and I still had plenty of
sunlight left, so I continued on.
  The trail sharply rose to the right, and this is where it got fun!

I
hiked a scree filled hillside that looked like it’d been trafficked by deer as
well. 
This was really slippery but fun
to cross. 

I
found the route more by luck and intuition than directions, but was always
pleasantly surprised when I’d ended up in the right place. 

My
directions at this point stated the trail got difficult to find, but to head east. 
Indeed, it was impossible to find.  The trial just ended.  So I brought out my compass and headed due
east.
  This ended up being a good idea,
because about ¼ of a mile into my eastward trek I found a cairn.
  Awesome! 
Unfortunately, it wasn’t on a trail at all, and there weren’t any other
cairns to be seen. I walked about 10 yards in every direction I could, but no
trail or cairns to be seen. 

I
really wanted to keep going, knowing I had to be close (my altimeter said I was
at above 9300 feet and I needed to get to 9400), but I’d already gone at least ¼
a mile off trail, and it looked like I had another 20 yards to go that would
have me circling boulders to reach the summit. 

I
got to thinking:  
the only two reports of
hikes on this mountain were from 2005 and 2013, and both said they’d been
climbed with snowshoes.
  If I’d had
snowshoes I’d be trekking in the snow, and could easily find my way back
following footprints.
  No one knew where
I was hiking (this was a last minute decision) and it was starting to get dark.
I had at least 4 more miles to hike out and back to the trailhead.
  

It
hurt, because I know I could have made it, but I decided to turn back. 
I’d gotten a pretty good workout hiking this
far uphill, which was what I’d come for.
 
This ended up being a really good idea, as it was almost dark when I
reached the trailhead.
 

On
a positive note, I saw some yellow columbines I’d missed seeing earlier (they
were at about the point I’d lost my camera lens cover). 
I’ve never seen yellow columbines while
hiking, so I considered this a bright addition to my day.
 

Oh, and I only saw 3 other groups while
hiking this part of the trail.
  A runner in
his 20s, a dad and his two teenagers (who’s turned around when they came across
the scree) and a man and a woman who looked like hikers but didn’t have a map
and wanted to know how far the trail went (it doesn’t end, but goes on and on
and on…).

So
all in all a good hike, and a lesson in humility. 
I hate turning back before summiting, but it
was the right thing to do.

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

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