Mt. Lindsey – 14,042 (and Northwest Lindsey 14,020)

I arrived late at the trailhead for 2 reasons:  

1:  When I got up I
needed to fold some laundry, start a new load, and clean up from the kids’ late
night baking session (the dishwasher was full and needed to be unloaded and
then loaded again).

2:  The I25 was closed
for 2 exits and the detour took forever because of all the semis trying to
navigate the downtown streets.  

So even though I got up at 2am I made it to the Huerfano /
Lily Lake Trailhead at 6:15am.  Here are
some pics of the easy 4WD road to the trailhead.

There were two other cars in the parking lot (which could
probably hold 10 in the immediate area, but there was a lot of room on the road
itself as well).  I was on the trail by
6:30pm.  It was just beginning to get
light outside.  

The beginning of this hike was pretty easy.  It followed a creek and a boulder field.  

I could tell the views on the way back were going to be

I followed a waterfall up a hill and saw two hikers at the
mine.  (Side note, I had an epiphany
here:  Mine probably came from the word “mine”.  Think about it).  Anyway, they were on the other side of the
stream and couldn’t hear me, so I waved and continued on.

Here’s my first view of Mt. Lindsey.  It’s the peak to the center right.  

I crossed this basin and ascended the hillside.  At the top I took a shadow selfie, because
that’s what I do.  

Here I reached a saddle, and decided to leave my hiking pole
at a cairn, as this was a class 3 hike/climb and it wouldn’t help any when I
needed two hands.  I took a picture of
both sides of Mt. Lindsey and put my camera away.

It was here I met a man who stopped me:  “Hey, do you blog?”

Me:  “Yes”

Man:  “Aren’t you
WildWanderer?  I’ve seen all your stuff
on the 14ers site.  You’re famous!  You’ve been rocking out the peaks this

I thanked him, argued a bit about the “famous” part, and was
on my way.  

We met up again while I was putting on my helmet.  I was trying to figure out my route.  I didn’t want to hold my map as I was
climbing, so I was studying the picture I had and what I could see in front of
me.  I didn’t want to take the gully
(blue line) because I’m not a fan of gullies.
I wanted to take the pink line, as that’s an easy class 3.  

I put on my helmet, put away my map, and started my way
up.  I’d told myself to just hug the left
side of the ridge and I’d be fine.  The
sunlight was blinding, shining directly in my eyes.  It was difficult to see any sort of
trail.  It took some maneuvering, but I felt
I was doing pretty well.  Until I came to
the crux.  That’s where the route
diverges into 3 different parts about halfway up the ridge.  However, I couldn’t tell that was where I was
at.  Looking at a picture/map is totally
different from when you’re actually climbing.
You can’t see much in front of you or behind you while climbing, so you
have to go by memory.  I knew I was good
as long as I stayed to the left of the ridge, so I looked up and started
climbing.  The easiest route looked to be
the pitch, so that’s where I went.  It
wasn’t too hard until I was almost all the way up.  This is what it looked like:

I kept thinking to myself as I was climbing: “This is MUCH
harder than Longs Peak.  Aren’t they both
supposed to be class 3’s?”  My research
had told me Longs was harder than Lindsey.
I felt what I was doing was within my abilities, but why was this so
difficult? And why did this feel so much more difficult than Longs?

By this time the man who’d talked with me before had caught
up with me again.  I was doing the route
finding and he was following me.  Since I
had an extra pair of eyes I called back to him “Hey, from where you’re standing
does it look like this line goes to the top?”

He said it did, and I was almost there.  Great! Except I didn’t fit though the path I
needed to take, and going back down wasn’t an option I wanted to take.  I’m not a big girl (5’4”, 105lbs), but in
order to make this move I’d need to remove my backpack and lift myself/crawl sideways
and up through a tight space.  Once
again, I felt secure I could do this (without my backpack).  I discussed this with the man below me, and
we decided to help each other out:  I
took off my backpack, climbed up, and he handed it up to me, then took off his
and handed me his backpack.  This worked
great, and we both made it!  The entire
time I kept thinking to myself how I did NOT want to go down this way!  I couldn’t see what was below me, and even
knowing there was a ledge just beyond my sight I knew it’d be suicide.  I needed to find a safer route down.

We separated once again and I was off to find the
summit.  This part of the hike was
slippery with a lot of loose rock.  When
I finally gained the ridge to what I hoped was Mt. Lindsey I realized I was at
Northwest Lindsey (14,020).  Luckily I
could see Mt. Lindsey in the distance.  

I thought briefly about taking a picture of me summiting
here, but didn’t deem it as too important, so I pressed on.

The rest of the hike was easy.  I followed the small saddle towards Mt.
Lindsey, and then looked back at Northwest Lindsey.

This part of the hike was only about 200 yards, and soon I
summited!  I was the first to summit

I got out my map and looked at my options for the way
down.  That’s when I realized I’d hiked a
class 4!  Check this out:  Here’s a picture of what I’d intended to
climb (the pink route)

And what I actually climbed (the red line).

Now everything made sense!
When the man I’d climbed with reached the summit I told him about our
achievement and we fist-bumped.  Then
promptly discussed taking the gully back down.
I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this because I didn’t know where it started
back down.  I passed several gullies and
wanted to be sure I was hiking the correct one on my way down.  My intent was to hike back the way I’d came,
but to try to find the class 3 route down.
If I couldn’t, I’d load my GPS with different directions and go looking
for the correct gully.

I was off, and on my way back decided to indeed take a
picture at Northwest Lindsey, just because I don’t’ ever want to climb this
mountain again and I wanted proof I’d been here.  That class 4 part was really the climb up
Northwest Lindsey, so I felt I’d earned a picture.

Here’s the way back to Northwest Lindsey

And my summit selfie

As I started down I noticed the couple I’d passed at the
mine coming up what I presumed was the gully.
We talked about their route up, and they gave me directions back down
the gully.  This seemed like a good
option.  All I needed to do was aim for
the red dirt in the middle right of this picture, and then the route down would
be visible.

So that’s what I did.
And this is what that route looked like:

It wasn’t very much fun.
I’m not sure which was worse, the ridge up or the gully down.  In fact, as I met hikers trying to make the
decision which route to take I wasn’t sure what to tell them.  They were both pretty crummy.  I was just glad I didn’t need to do either of
them ever again.

As I reached the saddle I turned and looked back at the
mountain.  Can you see the class 4 pitch?

Here it is…

I felt like a badass as I continued hiking back down.

I talked to a bunch of hikers on the way down, but didn’t
see anyone after I reached the saddle.
Except for a marmot in all his glory.

The trail went through a pine forest, which was lovely
except the evergreens are losing their needles for some reason.  The ground was littered with green pine
needles, which are extremely slippery.  

The trees are just starting to change colors here.

Oh, and I found a patch of wild strawberries by the
stream!  I love hiking this time of year
because of things like this!

So, here are my final stats:

Started hike at 6:30am

Summited around 9:15am (I looked but forgot the time…)

Made it back to my Truck at 12pm

Total hike time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Total Mileage: 8.25 miles

Total Elevation Gain: 3500’ (it felt like way more)

Here’s a 360 degree view of the summit

The Mt Lindsey Summit Sticker can be bought here

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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