RT Length: 15.03 Miles
Elevation Gain: 6051’
I was in this same area last week, and got a good view of the route I wanted to take to summit these peaks. This weekend the haze from the fires obscured a lot of the photos, but I think I can still get the general description across. I once again drove from Silverton to Beartown, but I decide to drive a little further up the road this time towards Kite Lake. That wasn’t the best idea (the road gets worse as you drive towards Kite Lake) but my truck still made it. She wasn’t thrilled with me, and I’ll be replacing her skid plate this week, but she made it. I drove in and out in the dark, so here are some pictures from last week’s drive.
I parked yards before the lake and was on the trail at first light: 6:30am
I realized on my way down I could have taken the trail to El Dorado Lake to gain the ridge, but that’s not what I did on my way in. You should though. Instead, before Kite Lake I headed south, and then southwest and followed the drainage below Hunchback Mountain to the ridge.
Once on the ridge I came across a trail, and followed it northeast
This would bring me to a rocky rib. Here’s an overview of the route up to White Dome, with the rib circled in red (it’s deeper than it looks). The rib drops down about 25 feet, crosses a ravine, and then gains 30 feet. This is class 3, closely bordering on class 4, and the only time I wore my helmet the entire hike.
Here’s looking down and up the ravine
And how I crossed
Here’s looking back on how I climbed into the ravine. This is pretty much vertical, straight down.
Once out of the ravine I continued southwest across some talus, aiming for another rock band. This was easy to climb up, and there was a cairn at the top, indicating the route to take. This is all class 2/easy class 3. Here are some photos:
Once I gained the ridge it was an easy hike west to the summit
I summited White Dome at 8:45am.
Next up was Peak One. Here’s an overall view of the route
This was a ridge hike, with no large obstacles to summiting. I dipped down once or twice to the right when needed, but this is all class 2
Here’s looking back at White Dome
I summited Peak One at 10am.
Now I had a decision to make. I could either turn back and head for my truck now, or make this a loop. I looked at my stats. I’d only gone 3 miles. Nope, not enough mileage/elevation/work to justify the drive in. I was going to make this a loop and summit Peak 3 and Peak 2 today as well. It would significantly raise my elevation gain (mostly on the way out) but it would mean I would need to make that 1.5-2 hour drive on a dirt road from Silverton one less time. Here’s looking at Peak Three and Peak Two from Peak One, with my overall route there and down into the basin that would lead me out
I started by heading south and following the ridge down, losing over 900’ of elevation. This ridge was class 2, with nothing too tricky. I could mainly stick to the ridge, but it would be obvious if I needed to dip right or left.
Here’s my overall route from the ridge over to Peak Three
And a look back at Peak One
And some step by step photos of my way to Peak Three. After losing approximately 900’ I regained another 800’ to the summit, first by taking a rock rib towards the upper basin, and then ascending using the scree filled gully. The scree here wasn’t too bad.
At the top of the gully it was a quick hike to the summit
I summited Peak Three at 12:30pm. I had a hard time getting my camera to cooperate, so we get a unique summit photo this time
There were some pretty awesome views of the Trinities, and Wham Ridge looked dry (I didn’t get a clear picture of Vestal Peak however, sorry!)
And here’s looking back at White Dome and Peak One
Now on to Peak Two. Here’s the overall route
This is an easy ridge hike. I started out heading north and just followed the ridge. Here are some highlights. From the saddle, looking back up at Peak Three and Peak Two
There’s actually a trail here that skirts the ridge to the left
Then it’s straight up this point to a false summit
And a quick dip and rocky trek to the summit
I summited Peak Two at 1:50pm. Something was wrong with my camera. I couldn’t set up the timer for a photo, so I just took a selfie, which ended up being unfocused. I also couldn’t use any of the buttons, the visual playback didn’t work, and I wasn’t entirely sure the camera was taking a photo (even though I heard a click). Oh well, I guess it’s time for a new camera. I’ve never liked this one anyway….
I looked to the northeast, and could see my intended exit route. I planned to hike back down to the basin and catch up with the Colorado Trail.
That first required me to head back the way I’d come to the Peak Two/Peak Three saddle
At the saddle I turned left and headed east and then north out of the basin
As you’re exiting, you’ll want to stay left to avoid a smooth rock waterfall
After the waterfall, aim for the trees, pass them to the right, and you’ll be able to see where the Colorado Trail picks up below
This is where I slipped on a rock the size of a microwave that decided to roll as I was using it for balance. I didn’t hurt myself, but I did bang up my camera, and when I went to take another picture all the buttons were functioning again (which was nice, but I’m still investing in another camera). Also, I need new shoes with better traction (this has nothing to do with the rock rolling, I just need new hiking boots). After this I followed the Colorado Trail east for 3.5 miles, gaining about 2100’ of elevation on a class 1 trail
The last bit was especially fun, as it involved dozens of switchbacks (sarcasm)
At the top of the hill I turned right and followed the trail south until I hooked up with the El Dorado Lake Trail, and took that east to Kite Lake and my truck
I made it back to my truck at 1:50pm, making this a 15.03 mile hike with 6051’ of elevation gain in just under 12 hours.
On to the next trailhead!