Mt Yale 14,196


My alarm clock went off at 2am this morning and I did NOT
want to get out of bed.  I was
exhausted!  After a very full week of
work, and Emily’s softball game that lasted until 10:30pm last night, I’d
gotten very little sleep this week (and only about 2.5 hours last night).  

Luckily my gear was all ready in the truck.  I turned on the coffee, thanked myself for
prepping it the night before, and started pumping myself up for the hike
today.  I’ve NEVER regretted a hike, no
matter how much I didn’t really want to go in the beginning.  I had set a goal of hiking all 14ers, and
there was no way I was going to achieve that goal if I was “too tired” on the
opportunities I actually had to hike.  By
the time I got in the car I’d changed my attitude.  Woohoo!
I actually had an opportunity to hike today!

I chose this hike because it was relatively close (2.5 hours
away) and moderate on length (9.5miles).
I wanted something a little challenging, but I had a 4:30pm appointment
for an oil change I needed to be back home for, so it couldn’t be too intense.

My directions were spot on, all except for the last little
bit.  I had two forms of directions (I do
this because the trailhead is often hard to find, on dirt/county roads with
multiple local and state names that differ).
One of my directions said to go 12 miles down this road, the other said
11.2 miles.  Well, at 11.2 miles I saw a
bear!  It startled me, and in fact at
first I didn’t realize it was a bear because it was way too small to be a
bear.  I thought maybe it was a very
large raccoon:  it was about 4 feet in
length, and I only saw the back ¾ of the animal as it finished crossing the
street and headed into the trees, but it didn’t have a tail.  It did have a rather brown, pear shaped
bottom though.  That’s when I realized it
was most likely a cub, and mama was probably close.    Since
I was the only one on this road I tried to stop to see it better but it was
hidden in the shadows.  Oh well, it was
still cool!

The trailhead ended up being 13 miles down the road, which
may not seem like a big deal, but it really is when you’re in the dark looking
for a trailhead that might be hidden.  In
any event, I found the trailhead full of cars.
Several had people getting ready for the hike today.  I gathered my gear, turned on my headlamp,
and asked two ladies getting ready in their vehicle if this was the correct
trailhead (there weren’t any signs).  We
were all here for the same hike so I thanked them and was on my way.

I got out my directions and they were pretty correct.  Let me emphasize here I was hiking in the
dark.  There wasn’t a moon to guide me
today, and I’d just seen that bear a mile down the road.  I knew there were a lot of other people who
planned to hike this trail today (I could see them in the parking lot) but I
didn’t know if anyone else was on the trail.
I’m not a fan of hiking in the dark without a moon, but on a day like
today it was necessary.

I only strayed from the trail once.  It was at this crossing.  I thought NO WAY am I supposed to cross
this?  It was completely dark at this
point, and this didn’t look like the right way (across the river).  So I followed a trail to the left for about ¼
of a mile that looked like a good trail but ended up being just a way for
people to look for another crossing.  It
didn’t lead anywhere, and when I discovered this I backtracked and crossed the
river.  In the dark.  Balancing on the wet logs and shuffling
across.  I had no idea how deep the water
actually was because my pole didn’t reach to the bottom.  But I made it and didn’t fall!  Woohoo!
I’d have to do this 3 more times and 3 more crossings (but only one more
was in the dark).


Just after the sun came up I stopped for a bit, and at this
point a couple hiking caught up to me. I wish I’d never have stopped because we
stayed 10 yards apart from each other for most of the hike up (and down).  I tried to either go faster or stop to get
distance, but they always mirrored what I did.
It was not fun listening to their conversations.  When I hike I like to hear nature… oh well!

Most of this hike was in the shadow of the mountain, which I
was happy with because otherwise it would have been hot!  Luckily there was no wind so it was a
comfortable hike.  Look at what I get to scramble!


I needed my directions for the first 2 miles, but after that
the trail was a piece of cake to follow.
Especially the ending ½ mile that was full of cairns.  FULL OF CAIRNS.  


That’s ok though, because it was pretty rocky.  


I’d started hiking at 5am and summited at 8am.  Not bad!
4.25 miles in 3 hours, uphill, with 4300’ in elevation gain!


The view was absolutely beautiful!  You could see over 30 14ers from the summit.


When I got there 3 camp counselors from the Salida Boy Scout
Camp were there, hiking on their day off.
We chatted for a bit about scouts, and then I was on my way back


The only downside to the way back down was that couple who
followed me back down.  At one point I
saw this mushroom, decided to stop to take pictures, and they passed me and I
never saw them again.  It was


I crossed the streams again a few times on the way back
down, this time in the daylight.


There were a lot of people hiking up as I was hiking down,
but for once everyone seemed prepared and started at a reasonable time.  

I made it back to my truck at 10:45am and was headed
home.  Just under 6 hours for a 9.5 mile

View from the summit:

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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