Pagoda Mountain – 13,479

RT Length:  17.74 miles

Elevation Gain:  4544’

I started from the Glacier Gorge trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park at 3:30am.  There were already several parties in the parking lot (probably 10 vehicles), but didn’t see another person on my route all day.   This is also a bus stop for access to Glacier Gulch (and lots of other hikes).  All this means is that it was overly crowded the last 2 miles of the hike on my way down.  Passing people became impossible, and more of a stroll as I hiked out with hundreds of other hikers. 

I followed the class 1 trail, staying on the Mills Lake trail.  There were wonderful signs that made getting lost difficult. 

I passed Alberta Falls at 1.15 miles, and continued following the trail to Mills Lake

After hiking for 3.35 miles I passed Mills Lake, and at 3.85 miles I passed Jewel Lake.  Side note:  there’s great fishing here.  Lots of hungry trout, eager to feast on any worm you drop in.  The larger trout are in the stream above Jewel Lake, and in Mills Lake.

I continued following the class 1 trail all the way to Black Lake (6 miles in).  This part of the trail had a lot of wood foot bridges, and rock slabs to cross.  All class 1, but the rock slabs were tricky to navigate in the dark.

I made it to Black Lake, and continued on the class 1 trail, up a waterfall, and across more rock slabs.

This is where my report may differ from others.  I took a different route in than I did out at this point, and liked my route out better.  It was easier to follow, and there were less willows/shrubs involved.  Here’s the overall picture of what I did.  There is a cairn circled in red, indicating the route to McHenry’s Peak.  Don’t take that route, but leave the trail and head behind the bush.  You will then easily see cairns that will guide you through the upper basin.

Once again, there is no established trail to Green Lake, but there are some tramped game trails (all covered in grass, not much dirt to be seen) and lots of cairns.  This is also choose your own adventure.  You’re aiming south, towards the mountains (circled in red).  There are several small streams to cross in this area, all easily hop-able.

 

I navigated a bit to the right of the waterfall to get to Green Lake (cairns here too)

Once at Green Lake, I turned left and headed southeast.  Here’s my overall route on scree, navigating around large boulders and rock slabs to keep this all class 2.

Here are some close-up pictures of my route up the gully, to the saddle

Once at the saddle, I turned right and headed up the ridge.  I went directly up the ridge on the way up, which was class 3.  I kept it class 2 on the way down by staying more to the left of the ridge. 

Here are some pictures of the ridge.

I summited Pagoda Mountain at 9am. There was a plastic tube at the summit as a register, lacking a lid, but with a ziplock bag inside.  I didn’t bother opening it.

Pagoda Mountain:

I had a great view of the Longs Peak keyhole route

Now to re-trace my steps back to the saddle, before the storm hit

And back down the scree to Green Lake

Once back at Green Lake, I turned right and followed the cairns north out of the basin

This time I went behind the rocks and picked up the old trail, circled in red

Then followed the trail all the way back to the trailhead.  It started raining just as soon as I made it to treeline, accompanied by a flash of lightning, a loud boom, and a wide rumbling all around me.

I made it back to my truck at 1:30pm, making this a 17.74 mile hike with 4544’ of elevation gain in 10 hours. 

On to the next trailhead!

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!

Chiefs Head Peak – 13,579

RT Length:  18.17 miles

Elevation Gain:  5476’

I parked at the Sandbeach Lake Trailhead at Rocky Mountain National Park, and was on the trail at 4:30am.

The Sandbeach Lake Trail was a class 1 trail I took all the way to Sandbeach Lake.  There were 2 creek crossings, but they had footbridges across.

It was 5 miles to Sandbeach Lake. Once at the lake, the fastest way to skirt the lake and find a trail is to go right here

But I wanted to see the lake, so I did, and then followed the lake past a small stream, and caught up with the trail there.  

After crossing the creek, I followed the trail northeast to treeline.  When the trail ended, there were plenty of cairns to guide the way (circled in red).

Once at treeline, I kept aiming for Mt Orton (unranked). There were cairns to mark the way until I was in front of Mt Orton

I then skirted Mt Orton to the left, and went through a very small saddle

I could now see an easy path to Chief Head’s ridge.  Here’s the route I took

And some close-up pictures

Once on the ridge, I followed it .3 miles to the summit, on rocky terrain.  I was able to keep it all class 2 by staying to the left.

There wasn’t a summit register, or a cairn, or a marker, so I just walked all over the rocky summit.

I summited Chiefs Head Peak at 11am

Chiefs Head Peak:

From the summit I had an amazing view of Pagoda, Longs, and Meeker

This was an out and back hike, so I turned and retraced my steps back down the mountain, around Mt Orton, and to Sandbeach Lake

The cairns picked up again, and I could now see Sandbeach Lake, so route finding was easy until I hit the trail.

Back at the lake, I picked up the Sandbeach Lake Trail, and took this class 1 trail all the way back to the trailhead.

I made it back to my truck at 3:15pm, making this an 18.17 mile hike with 5476’ of elevation gain in 10 hours 45 minutes.

On to the next trailhead!

Mt Chiquita – 13,054, Ypsilon Mountain – 13,513, Mt Chapin – 12,454

RT Length:  10.2 miles

Elevation Gain:  3555’

I parked my truck at the Chapin Pass trailhead and was on the trail at 4am. 

The trail starts out heading directly up to the pass. 

After hiking for .25 miles I came to an obvious junction and turned right, heading towards Chapin, Chiquita, and Ypsilon summits

The trail was very easy to follow.  I followed it east and rounded the north side of Mt Chapin (saving it for later).

The trail changed from Class 1 to Class 2 as I made my way up to the top of Chiquita, heading northeast. 

I made it to the summit just as the sun was starting to rise

 I summited Mt Chiquita at 6am

Mt Chiquita:

From the summit of Mt Chiquita I could see the summit of Ypsilon Mountain to the north. 

It was an easy ridge walk to get there, with a small false summit along the way. I just followed the ridge down 270’, and then up 722’ to the summit of Ypsilon.

I summited Ypsilon Mountain at 7am

Mt Ypsilon:

This was going to be an out and back for me, so I retraced my steps back to Chiquita, losing 722’ of elevation, and then gaining 270’

Back at the summit of Mt Chiquita I continued following the ridge southwest, back to the trail.  There is a trail to the summit of Mt Chapin from there.

Here are some close up pictures of the class 1 trail

I summited Mt Chapin at 8:30am

Mt Chapin:

I turned and retraced my seps back to the trail below

Once back at the junction with the main trail, I turned left and followed it west to Chapin Pass

I even saw a few bull elk lounging along the way

Back at Chapin Pass, I turned left, and followed it back to the parking area, which was now overflowing with dozens more vehicles than could fit in the area.  If you want to do this hike, get there early.

I made it back to my truck at 9:15am, making this a 10.2 mile hike with 3555’ of elevation gain in 5 hours, 15 minutes.

On to the next trailhead!

Fairchild Mountain – 13,502 – Hagues Peak – 13,560 – Mummy Mountain – 13,425

RT Length:  24.7 miles

Elevation Gain:  6931’

I made it to the Lawn Lake trailhead exhausted.  It’s been a fun month, but not one in which I’ve gotten much sleep.  I was on the trail at 4:30am. 

I followed the class 1, Lawn Lake Trail, for 5.7 miles

After hiking for 5.7 miles I came to a junction with the Black Canyon Trail, and took the Black Canyon Trail past Lawn Lake, and all the way to the Fairchild/Hagues Saddle.

Just after passing the lake I came across 3 bull moose enjoying breakfast. I took a few pictures and gave them their space

Bull Moose at Lawn Lake:

I continued following the class 1 trail up to the saddle

I crossed a small stream.  You can clearly see the trail on the other side.  The trail became faint in areas, but there were cairns and the trail became easier to see near the saddle. 

Just before making it to the saddle, I turned left and this is the route I took to the summit of Fairchild, following the ridge southwest

Here are some close up pictures.  Note, the boulders become very large near the top.  They’re all stable, but larger than vehicles.  My hiking shoes gripped the rocks nicely, but they would be treacherous if they’d been wet.

I summited Fairchild Mountain at 9:45am

Fairchild Mountain:

There was a plastic tube summit register I couldn’t open, and a rock wind break at the summit. 

From Fairchild, I looked back at the saddle and could see Hagues Peak, and my route.  Now is a good time to get a visual of the way you want to summit, as it’s difficult to see from the saddle/below.  This is the route I took, which kept it low class 3, but mostly class 2.

I made my way back to the Hagues/Fairchild saddle

And then followed the ridge until I made it to 12700’. 

I then headed northeast towards the ridge, staying on class 2 terrain.  Here are some close ups of my route

Also, there were more moths than I’d ever seen this far above treeline, and dozens of crows taking advantage of the situation

I gained access to the ridge with a few easy class 3 maneuvers.

One on the ridge, I turned left and followed it through more easy class 3 terrain west to the summit.  If there’s an option, always go right around the boulders.

The summit is circled in red

It’s just a little further southwest past the tower

I summited Hagues Peak at 12:25pm

Hauges Peak:

There were several benchmarks/elevation markers, and another summit tube (full of various loose pieces of paper, so I didn’t bother signing one).

Next on the agenda for the day was Mummy Mountain. I turned and headed back down the ridge the way I’d summited, and then crossed PT 13302, and headed up Mummy Mountain.  Here’s my overall route

And some step by step pictures

The terrain became rocky near the top, but this all remained class 2

I summited Mummy Mountain at 2pm

Mummy Mountain:

The weather had held out so far, but on the summit of Mummy Mountain I heard my first clap of thunder in the distance, and wanted to get back down to treeline as soon as possible.  I followed the ridge southeast on class 2 terrain.

I aimed for the drainage, and followed it until I made it back to the Black Canyon Trail

I followed the Black Canyon Trail North until the junction with the Lawn Lake Trail

There I took the Lawn Lake Trail back to the trailhead.  It rained the entire way.  Not the fun, misty rain, but buckets of large water droplets.  The sky thundered all around, after large flashes of lightning. 

I made it back to my truck at 5:30pm, making this a 24.7 mile hike with 6931’ of elevation gain in 13 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

Teocalli Mountain – 13,208, PT 12934, PT 13162, Triangle Peak – 13,380

RT Length:  16.72 miles

Elevation Gain: 5244’

The drive in to the Teocalli Trailhead was sketchy.  My stock Tacoma made it, but the last 2 miles were brutal, and the last quarter of a mile I kept going because I had to and couldn’t turn around if I’d tried.  The drive made for a great incentive not to need to come back to this area. 

I parked at the trailhead.  There were a ton of flies and mosquitoes out.  The flies looked like normal flies, but when they bit me, I got welts.  The next day they looked like burns.  Bring bug spray.

I was up and on the trail at 4:15 am.  The trail was class 1, but overgrown with plants, so at times it was hard to see.  I followed Teocalli Trail NO 554 for .65 miles

After hiking for .65 miles, I came to a junction.  Here I turned right, and continued following the trail east to the next junction.  This was a class 1 trail. 

The next junction was 1.5 miles away, and clearly marked.  Here I turned left, and followed the class 1 trail north

At 12420’ the class 1 trail ended, and became a class 2 trail. 

I headed west, to the summit of Teocalli Peak.  Route finding was easy, and I even found a few cairns along the way.

I summited Teocalli Mountain at 6:25am.

Teocalli Mountain:

There was a military box chained to a rock as a summit register, but it was open and empty, so I left a new one, and continued north.  If you’re going to do the loop as I did, note you need to be very comfortable with class 4 climbing and exposure, as well as bushwhacking through trees/brush/willows.  There is a knife edge that puts the one on Capitol to shame (circled in red below), and several class 4 chimneys. If you’re not comfortable with this type of scrambling/climbing/hiking, turn back now.  If you are, it’s time to put on your helmet and get ready for some type 2 fun!

Here’s an overall view of the route.  I spent a lot of time looking at my exit route down the basin, as I wasn’t sure if it would go.  I memorized the terrain in my mind for later in the day. 

I followed the ridge north, as I descended to the Teocalli/PT 12934 saddle.  This was full of loose rock.  I put on my microspikes and navigated down the class 2+ terrain to the saddle.

The first obstacle from the saddle is getting around these rocks.  I went right, and up a grass filled gully that turned into a rock filled gully

Then the terrain became rocky, and the class 3 climbing began.  I took this route up the rocks initially

And then went straight up the knife edge.  Do not go to the left or right, as the rocks are all loose.  The best way to climb this is to stick to the ridge.

Then it was a rocky, class 2 hike to the summit of PT 12934

I summited PT 12934 at 8:15am

PT 12934:

From 12934 it looked like an easy ridge hike to the base of PT 13162, but I was wrong. There is class 3 scrambling and class 4 chimneys to contend with.  There are too many moves to picture, so I’ll surmise the ridge by saying if you have to dip down, go right, but the ridge mostly goes.  Here are some pictures of the fun parts.

From the 12934/13162 saddle, this is the route to the ridge.  It’s all class 2.  There are actually 2 gullies that ‘go’.  I took one up, the other down, and they both felt about the same difficulty wise (difficult class 2). 

Here’s looking back at that ridge

Here are some step-by-step pictures to PT 13162.  Microspikes were very useful ascending and descending the gullies

Now on the ridge, I followed it southwest to the summit.  There was some low class 3 scrambling here.  This is the route I took

I summited PT 13162 at 11am

PT 13162:

From the summit I once again got a good look at my decent route down the basin.  I took a mental picture of it for later

I retraced my steps back to the 13162/12934 saddle.  Once again, both gullies ‘go’, so pick your favorite

Back at the saddle, it was time to head northwest towards the PT 13162/Triangle Peak saddle.  I stayed at about 12600’ of elevation the entire time

I also found a cool fossil.  I have really good luck finding fossils around 12500’/12700’

Here are some photos of my way to the Triangle/13162 saddle

Once there, it as mostly an easy ridge walk to the summit

Except for the last bit, which was class 3.  I did not take the scree filled/steep gully, but instead chose the class 3 scrambling route to the left

I summited Triangle Peak at 1:20pm

Triangle Peak:

I’d thought about summiting a few more peaks in the area, but as you can tell from the picture above, the weather was moving in, and I wanted to get back below treeline. Here’s the route I took out of the basin.  Basically I made my way to where the maroon rocks met the tundra, and followed the rocks out of the basin. The dotted line is my route from 13162 to the saddle of Triangle Peak

Here are some pictures of my route into the basin

And from the basin back to the trailhead. I stayed left the entire time, keeping the creek to my right.  The creek does flow through terrain too difficult to cross, so don’t follow too closely or you will cliff out. There are no established trails here, but every once in a while, mainly when I was in the trees, I was able to find a game trail to follow. Just keep heading south.

I came to the flower field I knew would eventually lead me to the trail, as I’d been in the area the day before. 

I made it back to my truck at 5pm, making this a 16.72 mile hike/climb with 5244’ of elevation gain in 13 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

White Rock Mountain – 13,540 and White Benchmark – 13,401

RT Length: 11.04 miles

Elevation Gain: 4470’

The drive in to the Teocalli Trailhead was sketchy.  My stock Tacoma made it, but the last 2 miles were brutal, and the last quarter of a mile I kept going because I had to and couldn’t turn around if I’d tried.  The drive made for a great incentive not to need to come back to this area. 

I parked at the trailhead.  There were a ton of flies and mosquitoes out.  The flies looked like normal flies, but when they bit me, I got welts.  The next day they looked like burns.  Bring bug spray.

I was up and on the trail at 4:15 am.  The trail was class 1, but overgrown with plants, so at times it was hard to see.  I followed Teocalli Trail NO 554 for .65 miles

After hiking for .65 miles, I came to a junction.  Here I left the main trail, and took a side trail.  I swear it’s there!  It’s just covered in vegetation.

Now is a good time to get a look at the overall route northwest.  Once in the trees, it’s difficult to know where you’re going until you make it into the basin

I followed a slight trail until I crossed the creek (creek crossing shoes needed) and then there was no more established trail (but a lot of game trails) I followed the drainage northwest to treeline.  Also, here I saw fresh bear scat (still wet) so be aware there may be a bear in the area.

Once at 11570’, I rounded the side of this hill, and headed up

I ascended a small gully to the upper basin

Here are some closer pictures of my ascent into the upper basin

Now’s a good time to look west.  This is the route I took down from White Mountain to White Benchmark.  I stayed just under the cliffs.  You’ll use this information later

Now in the upper basin here’s my route to the ridge.  This is choose your own adventure, and I’m pretty sure you could pick any line and it would go. The arrow shows where I ascended the ridge, via a small gully.

Now on the ridge, I followed it northwest.  Making it to the arrow was all class 2.

Once there, I had to drop a bit in elevation to get around the rocks. I put on my microspikes and went for it

Making it back to the ridge felt like class 3

Once around this obstacle, I now had to go around the white rock.  I did this by heading back to the ridge, and then dropping down onto the other side.

To summit White Mountain, I had to once again dip down, then re-ascend to the ridge.  Microspikes were extremely helpful here.  This is the route I took. Once I left the white dirt and made it to the brown rock, this became a class 3 scramble on questionable rock.  It looks like the terrain shifts constantly, so be careful picking your route

And some step-by-step pictures to the summit

I summited White Rock Mountain at 9:30am.  No summit photo: With all the excitement of a functional summit register that I could actually open and sign, I forgot.  This is also how I knew the sand shifts frequently:  There were signatures from just a few days before, but I didn’t see on shoe track the entire hike, and I was leaving prints everywhere.  

White Rock Mountain:

I retraced my steps back to the ridge

From the ridge I could see White Benchmark.  I decided to stay high, just under the cliff bands

The rocks were relatively stable, but it was slow going

Here’s looking back at my decent route off White Mountain

I kept rounding the ridge to the south, and eventually could see the 12728/White Benchmark Saddle, and a trail!

Once on the saddle, I followed it north.  It started out as easy tundra

But eventually switched to rock.  I still had on my helmet.  The route is fairly obvious.  You can stick to the ridge the entire time, keeping it at class 3.  If you opt to dip down to the left or right you might be able to keep it difficult class 2/easy class 3.

I summited White Benchmark at 12:30pm

White Benchmark:

I made my way back to the 12728/White Benchmark Saddle

Once there, I picked up the faint game trail.  This trail has the potential to lead you all the way into the trees and beyond, if you don’t lose it.  It avoids the willows below, and becomes quite robust at times. 

Once in the trees, route finding becomes more difficult. There are many game trails in the area. Pick one and follow it southeast until it runs out, then pick another one and continue following it southeast.  Repeat.  Keep the creek/drainage to your left (east).

Once you exit the trees, aim for the small pond below, and then re-cross the creek and pick up the trail you walked in on

The parking area is circled in red

I made it back to my truck at 3:15pm, making this a 11.04 mile hike with 4470’ of elevation gain in 11 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

Cassi Peak – 13,380 and Golden Tops – 13,262

RT Length: 14.51 Miles

Elevation Gain:  4021’

Yes, I’m recycling the approach pictures/description because all the info’s the same.  The Rustler Gulch Trailhead was full.  I tried to drive up the road several times, but kept getting greeted by vehicles coming down.  The drivers didn’t understand up had the right of way, and all of them seemed to be in vehicles too big for them to maneuver.  After backing up over half a mile for the third time, I decided to just park below.  I’d find out the next day it’s peak wildflower season in Rustler Gulch, and the tourists were flooding in to see them. Parking down below added about 2 miles to my trip and 500’ of elevation gain, which was negligible. Bonus:  There was a creek behind me to enjoy as well.

I was on the 4WD road that led to the trailhead at 2:30 am.

I followed it 1 mile to the actual trailhead, which was overflowing in the afternoon

I passed around the gate, and followed Rustler Gulch trail #599 north into the gulch.

There were several stream crossings to cross, all of which had rocks or logs so my feet didn’t get wet.

When I got to this creek crossing, I went right, and found a footbridge

I continued following the trail, and crossing creeks, through the gulch on a well-marked trail

Here’s my route into the upper basin.  This is all done on a class 1 trail

Here are some more pictures

After hiking for 5.3 miles, I crossed a creek, and continued following the trail.  The trail became faint, but if I looked closely, I could follow it all the way to the rocky basin

I needed to get to the upper basin. There are several ways to do this.  I took the gully to the left, but you could also go right.

Here are pictures of my way up the gully

You have several options

Once in the upper basin, I navigated the rock outcroppings to the right/southeast.  Here’s my route

Now to get up these rocks.  This was an easy scramble, and choose your own adventure. 

I now had a clear picture of Cassi Peak.  This is the route I took to get to the top of the last set of rocks

Now to get up to the ridge.  This is the route I took, all class 2.  The rocks were mostly stable, but the gully was steep.  I had to cross a solid streak of snow several feet deep at the beginning, and was glad I’d brought microspikes

Here are some pictures of the route up the gully

Once up the gully, I aimed for the ridge, which was much more solid

Once on the ridge, I followed it south, then west to the summit

I summited Cassi Peak at 7am

Cassi Peak:

From the summit I could see Golden Tops to the southwest.

To get there, I re-traced my steps back down the ridge and through the gully

This time, when I made it to the gully, I stayed high.  I actually crossed above the snow, and gasped as two boulders larger than microwaves cleaved off the rocks.  Be careful in this area near the rock walls.  I stayed high, as I was aiming for the Cassi/Golden Tops saddle

I climbed up some scree to the saddle

Then turned right, and followed the ridge.  This was class 2, with some easy class 3 scrambling thrown in.  The route will be obvious:  just follow the scree rubble west

From the top of the first point I could see Golden Tops to the southwest.  This is my route

And some step-by-step pictures. This is where the climb becomes class 3, heading down this small saddle.  This is how I navigated the class 3 section, by going straight up and over the first obstacle, which is like a mini knife edge, then around the second to the left.

The rest of the route followed the ridge to the summit

I summited Golden Tops at 8:30am

Golden Tops:

Looking back, here’s my route from Cassi Peak

Now to head back to the Cassi/Golden Tops saddle

Just before making it to the saddle I turned left, and scree-surfed north, back to the rocky ledges I’d ascended that morning

And now to exit the upper basin and head into the gulch

Here I picked up the faint trail that brought me back to the waterfall and the mining area

There were so many people, and so many wildflowers!  I can see now why this trail was so popular.

Rustler Gulch Wildflowers:

Here are a few pictures of the way back to the trailhead

And from the trailhead to my parking spot

Here you can see even more of the overflow/2WD parking below

I made it back to my truck at 11:30am, making this a 14.51 mile hike with 4021’ of elevation gain in 9 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

Precarious Peak – 13,380

RT Length: 13.79 miles

Elevation Gain: 3714’

The Rustler Gulch Trailhead was full.  I tried to drive up the road several times, but kept getting greeted by vehicles coming down.  The drivers didn’t understand up had the right of way, and all of them seemed to be in vehicles too big for them to maneuver.  After backing up over half a mile for the third time, I decided to just park below.  I’d find out the next day it’s peak wildflower season in Rustler Gulch, and the tourists were flooding in to see them. Parking down below added about 2 miles to my trip and 500’ of elevation gain, which was negligible. Bonus:  There was a creek behind me to enjoy as well.

I was on the 4WD road that led to the trailhead at 3:30 am.

I followed it a mile to the actual trailhead, which was overflowing in the afternoon

I passed around the gate, and followed Rustler Gulch trail #599 north into the gulch.

There were several stream crossings to cross, all of which had rocks or logs so my feet didn’t get wet.

When I got to this creek crossing, I went right, and found a footbridge

I continued following the trail, and crossing creeks, through the gulch on a well-marked trail

Here’s my route into the upper basin.  This is all done on a class 1 trail

Here are some more pictures

After hiking for 5.3 miles, I crossed a creek, and left the trail.  I could see my route before me to Precarious’ access gully.

This is the route I took

And some step-by-step pictures to get there

At the base of the gully I put on my microspikes and started climbing.  This is choose your own adventure of 850’ of elevation gain.  This felt class 2+.  I’ve definitely been in worse gullies, but still be sure of every step.  I didn’t have any rocks fall down the gully, but I did make a few slide a few feet. It had rained the night before, so the scree was mushy and easy to grip.

There are two ways to top out of the gully.  I took the first one up, the last one down.  If I were to do this again, I’d take the one closest to the top up and down, as it felt more secure.  Here’s the one I took up, which still had snow in mid-July:

And the one I took down (snow free)

They both led to the same place:  Class 3 scrambling. 

I aimed south, towards what looked like the ridge, but went too far up, where the route cliffed out.  Instead, head east.  At around 13190 there’s a path to go around the mountain. I had to descend about 50’

When I got there this is what I saw:  A snow filled gully!!!  I was so upset, thinking my climb was over…

Until I realized I just needed to cross the gully, and then head towards the summit on the other side (all class 3 scrambling). 

I crossed the gully just at the base of the snow

And then scrambled to the top

To find I wasn’t yet at the top…  This was all class 3 scrambling as well

I summited Precarious Peak at 8:30am

Precarious Peak: (Yes, I called it the wrong name.  I knew it was wrong at the time, but didn’t care to take the video again)

There were two summit registers, and when I went to open them I found out why:  The older one was sealed shut.

I backtracked the way I’d summited back to the snow filled gully

Crossed the gully

And made my way back to the ridge

Then back down to the gully that would take me to the access gully

OK, time to put back on my microspikes to descend the 850’ that is the access gully

I stopped on my way down to get a video

Precarious Gully:

Then continued to its base

At the base of the access gully I took off my microspikes, and then headed for the obvious trail below.

I crossed the creek, and spent some time looking at some old mining equipment.

Then I followed the trail back down the gulch

There were so many people, and so many wildflowers!  I can see now why this trail was so popular.

Here are a few pictures of the way back to the trailhead

And from the trailhead to my parking spot

Here you can see even more of the overflow/2WD parking below

I made it back to my truck at noon, making this a 13.79 mile hike with 3714’ of elevation gain in 8.5 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

Treasury Mountain – 13,462 and Treasure Mountain – 13,528

RT Length: 12.90 miles

Elevation Gain: 4689’

I made it to the Yule Pass Trailhead the night before, driving in on a well maintained, 4WD shelf road.  I’m pretty sure a 2WD vehicle could have made it to the top, but passing other vehicles was a problem.  Several times on the way in and out either I, or the other vehicle, had to back up on some pretty steep roads and squeeze into the mountain so the other could pass by.

It was a Thursday around 3pm, but all the dispersed camping spots were already taken.  I later learned there were several friends camping together, and each felt they needed their own campsite.  No worries though, as I was able to park by a small pond.

I was able to relax and read as a summer storm passed by, listen to my neighbors yelling at each other from across campsites (“DO YOU HAVE THE MATCHES?!?”, “WHAT????” , “I SAID, DO YOU HAVE THE MATCHES???”   “I THINK IT RAINED WHILE WE WERE GONE” ,  “WHAT???”  “RAIN!  I SAID I THINK IT RAINED!!!” – they probably should have shared a common site) and visually planned out my route for the next morning.

From my parking spot, there were several forks in the road.  This is the correct one for Yule Pass

I contemplated hiking the 12er Cinnamon Mountain before bed, but the thunder and lightning didn’t stop until it was too late to make an attempt, so I made it an early night, and was on the road at 3:30am, in an effort to finish my hike before the early afternoon storms materialized.

I followed the 4WD road to the Yule Pass Trailhead, Yule Pass Trail #576

From there, I followed Yule Pass Trail to northwest.  This trail used to be a mining road, but the mountain has re-claimed it and is healing its scars.  In a lot of areas it’s impossible to tell there was ever a road around this mountain.  Some areas were steep, but the runnels were all crossable. 

After hiking for 2.5 miles, I came to a gully just before Yule Pass.  I would use this gully to access Treasury Peak.  Also note the snow covering the trail to the left.  I was unable to see this in the dark on my way in, and it proved a problem on my way out. I had to re-trace my steps, but I was able to stay safe by exiting down the same gully I ascended.

I’d made great time, and it was still dark.  I couldn’t see much, so I waited for 20 minutes for the sun to rise.  There were a lot of clouds in the sky, and the sun refused to make a timely arrival, so I continued on.  Here’s what my ascent looked like

I know those pictures weren’t helpful, so, from later in the day, here’s a visual of how I ascended the ridge to Treasury Mountain

The terrain was full of loose rocks and smooth slabs, which gave way to smaller loose rocks and scree.  No worse than 2+.  I wore a helmet, and stuck to the runout until I made it to the ridge.

Once on the ridge, I could see Treasury Mountain to the northwest

This was a straightforward ridge hike, until the last bit, where the ridge became a series of slabs.  These would have been sketchy if they were wet, or if my shoes were lacking traction, but I was able to take the smooth rocky ledges to the summit. There’s a class 2 bypass below if needed.

I summited Treasury Mountain at 6:20am, just as it started to rain

Treasury Mountain:

I was glad I didn’t have to downclimb those slabs, as when wet they would have been a challenge.  Instead, I continued on towards Treasure Mountain, following the ridge for a bit to the northwest, then dropping down once I could see the defunct mine below.  From the summit of Treasury, it looks like the ridge goes all the way to Treasure, and it does, most of the way, but the area circled in red isn’t climbable without rope.  It’s part of a band of rock in the mountain that spans its whole side, so I would need to descend 1370’ to avoid this area.

I put on my microspikes and descended on scree past an old mine (not much is left)

I descended to 12400’, to a gully I’d descend to put me in the basin below. The gully was class 2, and easier to navigate if I kept to the right. 

At the base of the gully I could see the route before me I needed to take, to gain the ridge. This was all class 2. I lost several hundred more feet of elevation on my way, then gained it all back making it to the ridge

Here’s that rock band I was trying to avoid that all cliffed out

Here’s looking back up at the gully I descended

And now to gain the ridge.  Here are some step-by-step pictures of the terrain

Once on the ridge, to my left I could see the part of the ridge I was trying to avoid

I turned left and headed west along the ridge

Here are some close-ups of the ridge.  There are a couple of false summits, but if you got a good view of Treasure from Treasury, you already know this

I summited Treasure Mountain at 9am

Treasure Mountain:

Now to head back to the saddle.  I was going to descend similarly (but different) to the way I gained the ridge

Once back on the saddle, I aimed for this gully, put on my microspikes, and descended through it

Once down the gully, I stayed right of the rock rib, but headed back towards Yule Pass. 

Here are some step-by-step pictures.  I stayed above the small marshy area

Here’s another view of the gully I took down from Treasury

Eventually, I was able to see a game trail below, which led me to the actual trail

I then took the trail back up to Yule Pass

Once there, I should have been able to take the road back to my truck, but there was snow still covering it, even in mid-July, so I retraced my steps and took the first gully of the day again, but you should be able to take the road back all the way.  If not, it’s an easy and obvious workaround.

I now followed the road back to my truck

I made it back to my truck at 12pm, making this a 12.89 mile hike with 4689’ of elevation gain in 8.5 hours.

On to the next trailhead!