Prize Benchmark – 13,384

RT Length: 10.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 3996’

There is a ton of camping at the Tellurium Trailhead, so that’s where I spent the night. 

I was parked next to a small stream, and had the entire area to myself. Not bad for a Friday and Saturday.

I was up and on the trail at 4:30am, following the 4WD dirt road 584 north for just under 1.5 miles.  There were a lot of dispersed camping sites along the road.  I was glad I’d parked where I did and hiked in.

After hiking for just under 1.5 miles I came to an old dirt road that has been blocked off.  It was on the right, and wouldn’t have been obvious in the dark.  There is no parking there.

This was a road someone had tried to make unusable.  It made hiking interesting, as I could not hike in a straight line.  The road was obvious and easy to follow however.  

When you come to the meadow, if it’s light out, get a good look at Prize Benchmark. This is the route you’re going to want to take.  Notice there’s a ridge?  You’re going to want to parallel that ridge, then dip into a basin before ascending Prize.  This will make more sense later.

There were two creek crossings I did not need to take off my shoes to cross

There were a few side roads that went to old houses and mining operations.  Every time I had an option to turn I kept left (twice).  I followed this road all the way to the Enterprise Mine.  There’s not a lot left…

Here’s where I messed up. I went over the ridge.  Don’t do that.  Instead, try to stay parallel with the ridge, as you’ll want to cross it at a low point because you’ll be descending into a basin.  There is no trail here, but don’t try to ascend the ridge, stay at about 11800’.

When you can see east, it’s time to descend into the basin.  There are a few game trails here. Yes, you’ll be headed back into the trees.

I just kept heading east.

I could see a grassy band I wanted to take to the ridge, and thought the easiest way to get there was over a pile of rocks.  It wasn’t.  The rocks weren’t stable, and more than once I seriously considered heading back.  This is the way I’d recommend ascending

Here are some pictures of the way up the ramp.  I stayed to the left of the trees.

Then I followed the tundra east to the ridge

As I was heading east, and the sun was trying to rise, I notices a small herd of elk to my right.  They were sharing the tundra, and after a while the mamas woke their babies and trotted off. 

I continued hiking east.

As I was trudging up the tundra, I heard what sounded like a bark.  At first I thought it was a coyote, but they don’t bark.  Then I thought maybe a dog, but it was unlikely there was a dog all the way out where I was.  I heard a single bark every two minutes or so.  One time, when I turned around, I saw an elk, and realized the ‘bark’ belonged to her

Elk barking:

I figured she’d gotten separated from her herd, and was calling them. On I trudged.  I reached the ridge, and turned left.

This was all class 2. I navigated the rocks to the left

And then could clearly see the summit

I summited Prize Benchmark at 8:15am.  I could still hear that elk barking, but watched as it went in the direction of the herd.

Prize Benchmark:

I turned and re-traced my steps, thinking to myself how much easier this route had been rather than doing this from the other side with Booby and 13460.  I aimed for the tundra below.

This time I stayed to the right of the trees, aiming for the grassy rib and gully below

As I was hiking down, I saw something that didn’t fit with the terrain.  It was small and brown, and even from a distance, I thought it was an elk calf. IF was curled up, and I was worried it was dead, but seriously hoped it was a misplaced piece of wood.

As I got closer, it was obvious this was an elk calf, and I was sure the elk I’d heard earlier was looking for her baby. 

Then, suddenly, the calf popped up and stood on all fours, looking at me straight in the face.  I was relieved it was alright, then went into mom mode:  I chastised the baby, saying “Your mom’s looking for you! I know you heard her, because I heard her for over half an hour. Go back to your mama!” I pointed to where the mom had gone off to, and the calf ran in that direction. 

Now to continue on back to the basin

Here’s the route I took out of the basin.  While taking this route, I saw something I hadn’t on my way in:  remnants of a mine (circled in red).  I was going to explore when I made it down there.

There wasn’t much to see.  It looked as if the opening was entirely covered by snow… or a large boulder had been placed to cover the entrance.

I took a few pictures and continued on.  Now to regain the ridge. 

Once on the ridge I stayed level at 11800’ and aimed for the Enterprise Mine, which I could clearly see while on the ridge

Once at the mine I followed the destroyed road back to 584

I then followed 584 back to my truck

When I got there, I stopped my tracker, only to find it had gone all wonky, right at about the time I’d seen the calf, so my mileage was taken from my iPhone (which is usually pretty close to my tracker) and the elevation gain from CalTopo.  I made it back to my truck at 11am, making this a 10.4 mile hike with 3996’ of elevation gain in 6.5 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

13078 and 12837

RT Length:  9.62 miles

Elevation Gain:  3588’

My beta was wrong.  It was my fault, and I knew it on my drive in.  When there are avalanche conditions in the high country, I spend my time putting together potential routes and topo maps.  Then I print them out and put them in a binder I keep in my truck, so I’m always ready for a hike. 

However, my spreadsheet had different information than I was seeing at the time.  Specifically, a “No Trespassing” sign on what was supposed to be public lands.  This could completely have been my fault, as wine might have been involved while I was putting together topo maps.  Actually, it most assuredly was.   This changed my plans a bit, but I could still get in a hike. 

I parked at the Green Timber Gulch Trailhead after driving through thousands of tourists fishing at Cottonwood Lake, and the slowest driver I’ve ever encountered on a 4WD road.  He had a 4WD vehicle, but didn’t go over 5mph on this easy 4WD road (dirt 2WD?) and refused to pull over.  There were 10 vehicles behind him.  Not cool. 

Anyway, as I was sitting in the parking area putting together a trip report from that morning, a family pulled up beside me, then got into their Razor and took off.  They came back covered in more dirt and dust than I’ve ever seen, and were laughing hysterically.  I was glad they were having fun. Instead of hopping into the creek they took a wet-wipe bath, which caused more harm than good.  They looked like they were covered in volcanic ash.  In any event, eventually they left and I had the site to myself for the night.  Note:  No camping here, but I was sleeping in my vehicle, so I was just parked.

The trail is obvious, and starts with a bridge crossing.

I followed the Green Timber Gulch Trail all the way to treeline and to the 12,837/13,078 saddle, for 3 miles.  This is a class 1 trail, with a few minor creek crossings.  It’s currently spring conditions, so there was a lot of water on the trail.  There was a lot of moose scat on the trail (I mean, a lot), but no tracks, so I’m assuming the moose has moved on.  This is also a motorized bike trail, so watch out for bikes.

Once at treeline I turned left and headed east towards 13078. This was a straightforward tundra walk, and there was even a faint trail most of the way.  Oh, and the sign says trail closed to motorcycles… hiking is ok.

I summited 13078 at 6:45am


I left a register, and turned and headed back to the saddle. 

My next goal was PT 12837.  From this height, you can clearly see the three false summits, which actually have more drop and gain than it looks like from here.  This is the route I took

Here are some step by step pictures.  First, to the saddle

Then I looked for a break in the willows, and cut over to the ridge, avoiding the rocks to the left, and snow to the right

Here’s the first false summit

There was a large cairn at the top, but was obviously not the true summit.  Here you can see the cairn, as well as the second false summit

Here’s the route I took to the summit (all very straightforward)

I summited 12837 at 7:50am The ground was relatively flat, so I jumped for the picture


Here’s looking back at the route from 13078, as well as my route back to the saddle

I headed back to the 13078/12837 saddle

And then picked up and followed the Green Timber Gulch Trail back to the trailhead.

I made it back to my truck at 9:30am, making this a 9.62 mile hike with 3588’ of elevation gain in 5 hours.

On to the next trailhead!


RT Length: 8.88 miles

Elevation Gain: 3538’

I was I this area two days ago, but had a commitment back in Colorado Springs, so I went back home for a day.  The event ended at 8pm, and I drove back up to the Lily Lake trailhead that evening.  It was a Thursday night, but I was surprised to see a lot of the dispersed campsites already taken.  I ended up taking the last space, at 10350’, just before the downed trees started along the road.  I’d wanted to camp lower, but this would be a good place to set off for my next hike in a few days.  I was on the trail at 5am.

I followed the 4WD dirt road north for XXXX miles, to the Raspberry Trail (1307).  This had been where I’d wanted to stop for the night, but there were vehicles already camped there.

I followed the Raspberry Trail to a register, signed my name, and navigated around the downed tree blocking the path

I followed the trail down to the Huerfano River, and crossed it on downed logs

From here, I followed the class 1 trail as it switchbacked up the hillside.  There were several large downed trees obscuring the trail, but the trail was always easy to find.

The trail leveled off, and I came across some fire rings.  Here I left the trail and headed south until I hit treeline.  There was no path, and there were a lot of downed trees, but navigation wasn’t very difficult.

Once at treeline, the ground changed to tundra.  I continued following the tundra south.

Quickly, 13577 came into view

Here’s my route to the summit

This was a simple, but long, tundra walk, with some rocks thrown in. The ridge was 1.5 miles from treeline to summit.  Here are a few pictures of the route

I summited 13577 ay 7:45am


Check out the views of Lindsey

I turned and retraced my steps back to the trail

Here’s the overall route I took back to the trail

One in the trees it was difficult to navigate because I didn’t have any visuals.  I continued heading north until I crossed the Raspberry Trail.  There will be a lot of deadfall in this area.

Once back on Raspberry Trail, I followed it back to the 4WD road

I then followed the road back to my truck

This gave me a great view of PT 13577 from below

I made it back to my truck at 10am, making this an 8.88 mile hike with 3538’ of elevation gain in 5 hours.  I’ll be staying at this trailhead…