RT Length: 15.32 miles
Elevation Gain: 4074’
The creek crossings to get to the Rockdale Trailhead were easier than I’d anticipated. 6-8 inches of water weren’t difficult to pass (it’s now September in a lower snow year). In the dark the willows and water made navigation fun. Colorado pinstriping indeed.
There were only two stream crossings, just at the beginning of the 4WD road, but tons of short ups and downs and puddles. I drove slowly and I’m pretty good at navigation, but still managed to hit the underside of my truck a couple of times (I have a stock Tundra). This picture is from one of the easier areas of the drive. Most of the difficult areas have tree cover, making pictures difficult.
At 10880’ there’s a sign that says the road ends (even though it looks like it goes further). There are several large camping sites here. I parked my truck and got out my gear
I was on the trail at 5am, following the 4WD dirt road south.
After hiking for .3 of a mile I came to the ‘old’ parking area, now covered by an avalanche. There’s a nice trail through this if you stick to the left.
After the avalanche area the 4WD road picks up again
After hiking for .75 miles total I came to the junction of the trail and the road. Both ways go around the lake. I chose to go up and over the hill
Giving me a good look at Cholsey Lake
And then I followed the trail back down the hill and into the basin.
This is a class 1 trail that heads south through pine trees, willows, and some small creek crossings
At around 3 miles of hiking the trail started turning left, curving southeast. Here the trail became faint, but there were plenty of well-constructed cairns to guide the way up to the pass at 12,500’. Off to my left I saw a huge bull elk, bounding away.
At this point the trail was now gone, but I had a great view of Pear Lake. Pear Lake wasn’t where I was headed however. I turned left and followed the ridge northeast, staying as high as possible.
My goal was to aim for this gully. There are a lot of ups and downs here, so I tried to stay high.
Here’s the path I took, step by step, to get to the gully
The safest way to approach this gully is to start out by going left around this boulder, and then straight up, following the scree trail
There are a lot of loose rocks here, the kind that cause rockslides, so watch your footing.
The top of the gully put me at 12,860’. Now it was time to head back down, staying as high as possible, but still losing about 300’ of elevation as I traversed my way over to Magdalene’s ridge. Here’s an overall of the route I took
And step by step: First, down the gully. The most stable area is to stick to the left, near the rock
Then I headed southeast, staying high
The rocks give way to tundra. I kept aiming for the ridge
Keeping Silver King Lake to my right, I made it to the base of the ridge. Here there’s a cairned trail that picks up and will lead you to the summit. It starts by zig-zagging up and around the first ledge
Then following the well cairned trail to the saddle
It looks like the trail has been covered in rockfall in areas, but the cairns help to stay on course
Once at the saddle I turned right and followed the ridge southwest
There are several social trails up this ridge, but I was able to summit by sticking to the ridge proper, keeping this class 2
I summited Magdalene Mountain at 9:40am
There are 2 summit registers here.
Time to head back the way I came. First, down the ridge
Once at the saddle I turned left and followed the trail back down the mountain
Here’s an overview of the route back to the pass
And step by step:
Here’s looking back up at the gully. Once again, I stayed north to ascend
From the top of the gully, here’s the overall route back to the pass
And step by step. Down the gully and across the rocks
Then taking the plateau back to the pass, where the trail picks back up again
I turned right at the cairns and headed back down to the basin
I looked longingly at the ridge that connects Pear Peak with PT 13517. I really wanted to do that ridge today. It was an absolutely perfect day, but I was short on time, as the drive in had taken longer than expected. I had to get back home and finish working for the day. Oh well, it will be a fun adventure in the future. Here are some pictures of the route back down. Spirits high, I rather enjoyed the hike out.
Back to the lake and up the hill
Past the avalanche area
And back to my truck. I made it back to my truck at 2pm, making this a 15.32 mile hike with 4074’ of elevation gain in 9 hours