RT Length: 2 miles
Elevation Gain: 1032’
Woohoo! It’s finally summertime and I’m in the mood to start doing some serious hiking. I drove down to Lake City after work on Thursday, intending to find a parking spot on Carson Pass, spend the night, and get up early to start hiking. I looked up Carson Pass for road conditions on Bushducks and wasn’t able to find any information so I figured this was an easy 4WD road. (Note, I found out later it’s listed under Wager Gulch).
I turned left from 30 onto 36, or Carson Road. There’s a sign that says “4WD recommended”
Ha! I found out rather quickly This is a serious 4WD road. It’s narrow, has a minimum of 4 blind-hairpin turns, water crossings, and some serious rocks/trees/etc. to navigate.
The good news is if you can make it after the first mile you can make it all the way. On my drive back down I saw someone turn around just before making it a mile. It took them a good 20 minutes to turn their vehicle around. I hope they found a dispersed campsite elsewhere. Here’s a picture of the truck that turned around. My Tundra handled it famously, but this is a road better suited to vehicles with a short wheel base.
After driving for 3.5 miles I made it to Carson. It’s a ghost town, and just before reaching it there are a few dispersed campsites.
Instead of stopping I drove 1.5 miles further on the road to the top of Carson Pass. The entire drive was almost exactly 5 miles from the turnoff from 30.
There was a little bit of snow towards the top, but nothing that interfered with driving.
I made it to the top of Carson Pass, backed into in the only available parking space (I’m assuming a lot of vehicles just park on the tundra) and realized it was only 5pm.
Hmm. I had a flexible itinerary for the weekend that included up to 8 peaks depending on weather/conditions, and while I’d already done an hour on the treadmill today I was in no way tired. I decided to tackle the peak in front of me because I had plenty of time and wanted to get the most out of this trip. Read: I did not want to make that drive again (if possible) and wanted to get in all 8 peaks.
I gathered my backpack and headed west up the side of Bent Peak, following the 4WD road.
This hike is straight forward. You just follow the road until it ends
When the road ends, continue northwest up the side of the mountain
The tundra turns to rocky terrain
And then to a mix of tundra and rocks
And then back to rocks
The summit was rocky and had a bunch of cairns.
I summited at 5:50pm.
I took a good look at the conditions of the nearby peaks I intended to tackle this weekend. It didn’t look like I’d be needing traction. I turned around and re-traced my steps back to the road, and my truck (circled)
I made it back to my truck at 6:15pm, making this a 2 mile hike with 1032’ of elevation gain in 1 hour.
Here’s a topo of my route:
I was really glad I’d decided to tackle this quick peak today. Now it was time to eat some dinner and prep for tomorrow. It was now I noticed the cooler I’d brought had tumbled during the drive and leaked water all over my laptop. Oh no! My laptop was fried. Great. This was not a good start to the weekend.
The wind started to pick up and I could tell it was going to be a long night. I decided to fuel up on calories, and as I was eating dinner and sipping whiskey I thought about a movie on Amazon I’d recently watched: Ouray 100, which is about a 100+ mile endurance run in Ouray, CO. that includes 42K+ in elevation gain (84K in elevation change). I’ve been intrigued by this run, but also by one of the pacers. She’s a woman around 25 years old who at one point in the movie said “Give me some Gu, I don’t care what flavor, I just need the calories”. I need to be more on her level: I have a hard time forcing myself to eat anything while hiking, and she doesn’t seem to care; she just wants the calories. I also just want the calories but feel like I have to throw up after consuming them.
I tried to get to bed early but all I could think about was driving that road back down when it was time to leave. I was not looking forward to it. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem driving 4WD roads and I actually enjoy doing so because my truck has always done everything I’ve asked it to do. What I don’t enjoy is passing other vehicles on the roads because my truck is big and passing can get tricky when the road is narrow. There aren’t a lot of turnouts on the road to Carson Pass and uphill has the right of way so mentally I tried to figure out the best time to drive down: Do I leave in the middle of the night at some point this weekend? If I do and encounter another driver how much fun will it be backing up in the dark on that road? How likely was that to happen? Or do I leave early morning and risk early adventurers driving up? Or late afternoon? That’s when most people are driving down, right? So drivers coming up expect a lot of drivers driving down and are more likely to avoid that time? How many people would drive up to see the sunset? What time am I least likely to encounter another driver? Is there a time the Jeeps are due back when rented? Ugh. I wish I could have just turned my mind off at this point, as it was useless worrying about something I couldn’t control. I guess I’d be flexible depending on how much hiking I was able to get in.
I noticed my truck was by far the largest vehicle up there all weekend: lots of Jeeps and ATVs and OHVs were on the road, but no larger vehicles/trucks.
Oh, and the wind never stopped, but it did start snowing.