Mt Pittsburg – 8197’ and PT 8220’

RT Length:  6.63 miles

Elevation Gain:  2214’

DISCLAIMER:  DON’T DO WHAT I DID!!!

I went back and forth on whether or not to post this, but I pride myself on posting honestly and openly, and I think this information can help others.  I believe in respecting private property, and am always on the lookout for signage.  I’ve turned back on several hikes when I’ve seen a sign indicating I shouldn’t be there.  Also know I took direction from others who’ve already done this route, albeit it quite a few years ago.  It is no longer a good idea to summit these peaks this way.  It seems a lot has changed in this area in the past few years:  I encountered roads not on topo maps, so there is most likely an easier way to summit.

I drove slowly the last 2 miles to where I parked, following a large, industrial truck.  The roads were icy from the overnight storm, so I didn’t mind going slow.  I kept looking for a good place to park, and maybe it was the recent snow, but there just wasn’t one along the entire drive in.  Finally, just before reaching the quarry, I saw a place I could park.  I pulled over, backing up a few times to make a nice parking space in the snow, and looked around.  I didn’t see any ‘no parking’ or ‘no trespassing’ signs, so I sat there for 15 minutes, putting on my gear.  Here’s where I parked, just in front of an open gate, near a mailbox

As I did so, several large trucks passed me.  I assumed they were workers going to work for the day.  I waved.  I got out of my truck and proceeded up the road a few yards, then turned right and headed east up the ridge.  The entire time I was in sight of the quarry office.  I never crossed a fence or a ‘no trespassing’ or a ‘private property’ sign. 

This hike was full of bushwhacking.  There were no established trails, so I took game trails where available.  The game here didn’t seem to get taller than my waist.

From the ridge, here’s looking at the quarry office.  I would like to note I had a red bandana and was quite visible due to the fresh snow.  No one tried to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be there or follow my obvious tracks in the snow to talk with me about my intentions.  I’m sure they have bullhorns at facilities like this, right?  Surely I was within range of bullhorn communication if I was doing something wrong.  But no,  I was simply enjoying my hike, and at this time thought nothing amiss.  

Once on the ridge I followed it north, until I came to a…. road?!?!?!?

I followed this road, which I eventually found was called Henry Ride Heights.  When it crossed with Phantom Canyon View I turned left and continued following the road to the towers.  There were loud, barking dogs here.

Once at the towers the road ended, so I followed the ridge as it wound north

This ridge goes up and down and up and down.  The scrub oak is particularly unsettling, but on a positive note it was mostly dead and broke away when I hiked past. Here’s the summit of Mt Pittsburg

Here’s looking back at the route in

It doesn’t look like this summit gets a lot of hikers.  I placed a summit register and was on my way

My next goal was PT 8220.  I wasn’t sure where it was exactly from Mt Pittsburg, as the weather wasn’t cooperating.  For reference, this is the peak and my overall route

I started out by heading northeast down to the saddle. 

It should be noted the bushwhacking never got better for this entire hike.  In fact, it kept getting worse, so I’ll stop mentioning it.  I’d just like to point out if I were doing this any other time of the year I most likely would have come out with dozens of ticks.  Once at the saddle I then climbed the rib/ridge to PT 8220, making several ups and downs along the way

Here’s looking back on Mt Pittsburg

And some more pictures of the ridge hike to PT 8220

Here’s a look at the summit of PT 8220

I wasn’t sure where the exact summit was, so I walked all over, and yes, even sat on that ‘point’

I left a summit register, and turned to head west down the mountainside

I headed down, following a sort of steep gully, until it hit a ravine, and then I followed the ravine down to a road.  It took me 2.75 miles of hiking down this ravine from the summit of 8220 to make it to the road.  Here are some highlights:

I found an old structure along the way.  This truly was in the middle of nowhere:  very overgrown and not even game trails here.

I was so excited when I finally made it to the road!  I followed it south

I passed a generator and a fire extinguisherand thought that was odd?

Then I came upon tire tracks.  I was now elated, because I knew I’d soon be back to my truck

Well, elated, until I saw this:

Ugh!!!  My map told me I was to walk a road next to the Quarry, not THROUGH it!  I was probably 200 yards from my truck at this point, and by looking at my map I knew the only option I had was to continue walking along the road.  I briskly followed the side of the road, keeping my head pointed straight ahead. There weren’t any ‘no trespassing’ signs, but I did not feel comfortable. I wanted out of here right away, but I also knew my only option was to continue forward.   I felt a sigh of relief when I passed workers and they didn’t seem to care I was there.  Here’s a picture of the office (after I’d passed it).

My relief was short lived though:  About 20 yards away from my truck a man drove up from behind me and rolled down his window:

“We were looking for you earlier.  You’re not supposed to be out here without a hard hat”.

I thought that was a curious thing to say, but apologized just the same and he drove away.  Immediately afterwards another man pulled up behind me.  He was a little more upset, and told me he’d called the cops on my vehicle because he hadn’t known who it belonged to.  I was nice to him, and let him know I hadn’t intended on ending up in the middle of their operations and I just wanted out of there as fast as possible:  I’d looked for ‘private property’ and ‘no trespassing’ signs and hadn’t seen any this entire hike, including where I parked (OUTSIDE of the open gate, I might add).  It wasn’t until I made it back to the road near the quarry I began to think anything was amiss.  He said there was a sign located somewhere behind a sign (I never saw it). 

I apologized, and got a lecture on hiking alone and mountain lions (“You shouldn’t be out here alone, little lady”).  I refrained from saying anything, but I did grit my teeth on how he was lecturing me.  I got the feeling he was only doing it because I’m a woman. After all, I know of two other men who’ve taken this route, and when they passed the Quarry (described to me differently before this attempt:  I’d been under the impression the public road went NEXT to the Quarry, not through it) the men said the workers just waved them on as they hiked by.  I wanted to give him a lecture on proper signage and procedures that should have been taken BEFORE calling police, but I held my tongue.  Once again, I apologized and he let me be on my way.   

So, now I’m expecting the cops to show up at my house at any moment to talk to me about trespassing charges. 

Oh, and here’s a topo map of my route.  Also, I don’t’ recommend taking it.

Author: Laura M Clark

Mom, Solo Colorado 14er Finisher, Outdoor Enthusiast, Traveler, and Girl Scout Leader with an MBA in International Business and Marketing. I value adventure, growth, courage, wisdom, integrity, accountability, and family. I enjoy yoga, wine, whiskey, traveling, reading, and the outdoors. I strive to be the person who inspires and motivates myself and others to succeed.

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