Note, my successful climb of Tuckaway can be found here.
This whole Coronavirus thing is crazy, and it’s driving me crazy. Half the states are closed to outdoor recreation, with the other half open. Our county is open for hikers (with restrictions to social distance), others in the state are closed (and there seems to be no consistency) so I chose to social distance close to home today, getting in 14 miles and 4300’ of elevation gain on a trail that hasn’t been used much, if at all this winter. I didn’t pass a single person all day.
My intent was to hike Tuckaway Mountain. It’s located off North Cheyenne Canyon well off the beaten path but at a popular trailhead. I arrived at the trailhead at 6am, the first vehicle in the lot. Right behind me was a car full of runners: they parked and immediately started running down the trail. I envied them their lack of gear.
I’ve explained this hike several times so I’ll just paraphrase: I took the Seven Falls Trail (622) to the junction with 677 and then 622A to Loud’s Cabin. This part of the trail was snow free but I wore microspikes because there was ice in areas.
Once at Loud’s Cabin the trail ended, but it wasn’t supposed to. I ended up backtracking a bit and finally finding a trail! The only problem? They obviously didn’t want anyone using this trail.
Hmmmm. In the past few years they’ve done a lot of re-routing trails here. This must be one of the ones they closed off. I knew which direction I was supposed to go, so I decided to leave the old trail and bushwhack my way towards another trail I was sure would be ahead of me.
After crossing a stream
I just aimed west, keeping the snow filled gully to my left.
I hiked like this for about 2 miles, until guess what? I found a trail! It was obvious this trail hasn’t been used all winter.
I followed it north and held out as long as I could before putting snowshoes on
Just as soon as I put on the snowshoes, the snow stopped. I found myself at another gully, and this time followed it up to the saddle. This part reminded me a lot of Mt Garfield, and there wasn’t a trail.
Once at the small saddle I turned left (west) and once again donned my snowshoes.
After about 200 feet of snowshoeing I could tell I was very close to the summit, but unfortunately the snow became impassable in snowshoes (I could have done it in skis). Every step I took I sank up to my waist. The snow was just too sugary and warm for snowshoes to be effective. Maybe if I’d started earlier in the day the snow would have been more firm?
I turned around a couple hundred feet from the summit. This was my second attempt of this peak (I thought I’d summited the first time but was told the summit was actually 50 feet more to the north, so I wanted to go back and see for myself/hit the true summit). I wasn’t that upset about turning back because I was really proud of all the route finding I’d done. Also, I have a friend who wants to hike this mountain with me, so I knew I’d be back no matter what. Now I just have more accurate route information.
From here I could see my path back down the canyon. Yep, I now know these hills like the back of my hand. Who needs a map?
I made my way back down the gully to the trail, and followed my footsteps back
To where I’d written I the snow where I’d bushwhacked in from so I knew how to get back
Back down the mountain I went, keeping the snow to my right this time
I was thrilled when I made it back to Loud’s Cabin. This had been a great day! This is also where I got the idea to summit Mt Kineo, just to say I’d summited something today. I’ve summited Mt Kineo several times, and it isn’t a difficult summit. I didn’t need a map or directions to get there. I hiked back to the 677/622 Junction and left the trail to hike up the Kineo mountainside
At the false summit I had a pretty good view of Tuckaway Mountain (the mountain I’d attempted that morning). It didn’t look snow-filled, even though it had been.
There was actually more of a trail this time up the mountain than I’ve ever seen. The first time I hiked here there was no trail, but now it’s a clear path.
The views from Kineo don’t disappoint!
The hike back was uneventful. It was weird not seeing anyone on this part of the trail: the last 1.5 miles is usually teeming with people
I made it back to my truck and the lot was about halfway full. I was glad people were getting out and enjoying the sunshine while they can. The cool thing about our trails being open is they self-regulate. There are only so many parking spaces at the trailheads so only so many people can be allowed in.
Here’s a copy of my track