RT Length: 9.06 miles
Elevation Gain: 1456’
This trip started out as a summit attempt on Homestake Peak, but it ended with an unexpected trip to the 10th Mountain Hut.
Weather all over the state either had high avalanche danger or high winds, so I settled on hiking Homestake Peak today, with a frigid forecast but only 5-10mph winds and no cloud cover. Or, so I thought. I arrived at the trailhead and put on my gear, including snowshoes, inside my truck.
There were some cool signs in the area
I was on the trail when it was still dark, and noticed tracks coming towards me, presumably made earlier in the night. I’m guessing they’re coyote
I followed the well-marked trail, using the blue diamond route
And then following the route to the 10th Mountain Hut (still blue diamond/arrows).
Here I was following the Colorado Trail. It was just a for a short time, but still kind of cool to be back on the trail for a bit.
The trail was easy to follow until I came to a meadow. I was supposed to take the route outlined below, but the snow was too soft in the willows.
I ended up zig zagging back and forth, trying my best to follow deer/elk tracks. I kept falling into invisible streams covered in several feet of snow. At one point my phone froze and I was unable to unlock the screen to see where I should have been going. My stylus wasn’t working in the cold either. Several times I sank up to my chest in snow, and after the third time getting my snowshoe caught in debris that immobilized me I decided to call it and head back to the trail. I wanted to try to find another way to summit: the conditions in the marshy area were just not safe. I could see myself twisting an ankle or breaking a leg on this route. Here’s my route out of the willows.
I didn’t want my day to be over, so I decided to follow the tracks to see where they led. They continued to follow the blue diamonds.
Right about now the sun was beginning to rise, and I could see it wasn’t going to be a cloudless day. The clouds made for a beautiful sunrise though!
As the sun rose the wind picked up. I could see snow swirling all around me, which was pretty cool. I also knew I needed to be more to the southwest if I wanted to attempt Homestake Peak today, but every time I tried to cross the snow and head southwest I sank up to my chest in the snow. That snow was seriously deep, and sugary. I’d need skis to attempt a safe crossing (I don’t own skis).
I could also tell the clouds were increasing, and by looking at how fast they were moving, they weren’t going 5-10 mph (more like 40mph or so). Here the well trenched trail ended, but I could see a faint line of where it had been a few days ago and decided to re-trench the trail to see where it went.
I came to a small sign, stating no snowmobiles were allowed past this point, and continued heading northwest.
Just after the sign I came to the 10th Mountain Hut! So cool!
I wanted to take a look around, but as I got closer I could see people moving about inside and decided to leave them be. They looked like they were packing up to head back out. They must have trenched in on Friday, and I’m sure they’d be excited when they noticed I’d re-trenched their way out.
Heading back was easy, as I just followed my tracks
I made it back to my truck at 9:15am, making this a 9.06 mile hike with 1456’ of elevation gain in 4 hours
Here you can see my intended route (bottom) and the route I actually took (top)
As I drove home the winds became more intense. There were semis parked on the side of I70, waiting out the wind. Yes, it had been a good idea to switch directions today. While any day out hiking is a great day, I wasn’t happy with today’s stats, so after making it home I hopped on the treadmill.