K49 – 13,545

RT Length: 9.81 miles

Elevation Gain: 3162’

I arrived at the North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead to find it almost full at 3:30am, with several vehicles parked just below the final ‘difficult’ section. Pro tip:  If your vehicle cannot make it all the way to the trailhead, do NOT park it just below the difficult section, as it’s narrow and I barely avoided hitting several vehicles on the way down later in the day.  I was driving a Tacoma; I can only imagine the difficulty a larger vehicle would have passing poorly parked cars in this area.  If your car can’t make it, do us all a favor and park in the 2WD parking area.  The upper 4WD parking area was full of 4Runners, Suburbans, and trucks.

I was on the trail at 4am.  The sky was clear and I could see stars, but apparently it had rained the night before, and I was quickly soaked. 

The trail was an easy to follow, class 1 trail

At the junction, I continued straight on North Halfmoon Lakes Trail

This was still a class 1 trail, with some fun boulders thrown in.  These were easy to navigate, with cairns to guide the way.

After hiking for 2 miles, I came to an unmarked junction and left the North Halfmoon Lakes Trail and followed a social trail to a stream.

There were several small streams to cross, and no established trail.  I continued heading southwest, staying above North Halfmoon Creek, doing my best to avoid the boulders.  This was all done below treeline, so pictures don’t help much.  I stayed level at around 11600’

I came to an avalanche area, crossed it, and continued staying at 11600’

Eventually I could see North Halfmoon Creek, and an easy place to cross.  I crossed the creek, and headed southwest.

There was a drainage that was easy to follow

I crossed the creek again (once again, easy) and continued heading southwest

At 11900’ I turned and headed south, up this hill

This led me to the upper basin.  Here’s my route to the ridge.  This is choose your own adventure.  I tried to keep it between the rocks and the scree.  I took the rocks up, the scree down.

Here are some close-up pictures of the route to the ridge

Once on the ridge, I turned right and followed it southwest

This was all class 2. There was a short class 4 section, but it could be easily avoided by dropping down to the right a little bit, then regaining the ridge

Here’s looking back at that rock you’re trying to avoid

Now it was an easy, class 2 ridge hike to the summit

There were 2 summit registers at the summit.  A plastic tube with I (surprise!) wasn’t able to open, and a glass jar with a register I signed.

I summited K49 at 7:45am

K49:

From the summit, here’s a view of Mt Massive, and my route in/out.  Now is a good time to get a view of your exit route, and the avalanche run-out you’re aiming for on your way back

I turned and re-traced my steps back down the ridge

Then back down the scree towards the basin and North Halfmoon Creek

Here’s my route across the creek and staying at 11600’ until I met back up with the trail

After passing the avalanche debris I was quickly able to hook back up with the trail

And follow it back to the trailhead

I made it back to my truck at 10:30am, making this a 9.81 mile hike with 3162’ of elevation gain in 6.5 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

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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