Handies Peak, my First 14er!!!!!

When:

July 16th & 17th 2005

Where:

San Juan Mountains, CO

Attendees:

Just me!

Links: http://www.14ers.com/ This is a great site for research.

 

Here is me on top of my first 14er! What an amazing experience!

 

 

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll start off when I left on Saturday....

 

I worked the night before until 2am, so I slept in late and didn't get on the road until 11am. I drove north on

Highway 84 through Chama, up to Pagosa Springs. I then drove northeast past Wolf Creek and over to

South Fork. Then headed northwest through Creede Colorado, the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

I stopped in Creede to check out the logging festival they were having. I'll bet they don't get too many spotted

owl biologists at the logging festivals! ;-) (haha)

One artist was carving a cool piece with a chainsaw, really talented!!!

 

On the way out of Creede, I saw a dead magpie on the side of road, no obvious injuries. Why would I stop for a

dead bird you wonder? Because it is a corvid and they are very susceptible to the West Nile Virus and I am very

interested in this disease. Obvioulsy, WNV is doing well in CO... ;-(

 

I continued northwest into Lake City. Coming into Lake City you are awarded with a spectacular view of Uncompahgre

Peak to the west. I will hike it someday, after I get in a little better shape.

Uncompahgre is the slanty, tall one on the right.

 

I had dinner in Lake City and explored the town some. It's a great little town full of personality. After exploring, I headed into

the mountains to find a camp site for the night. I drove south of town and turned on the road to Lake San Cristobal, also

known as the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway. I camped at the BLM campground, Mill Creek. It was a beautiful night.

I opted for a tent with the weather looking bad.

 

The next day I awoke at 5:30am, intending to hit the trail early. Never having done a 14er before, I didn't know how

well my body would react to the elevation. When I hiked Wheeler Peak in NM a few years ago, I got pretty sick

and that was only at 13,000 feet. From the trailhead the route is 2.25 miles long, gaining 2500 feet in elevation.

The peak is 14,048 feet.

A small topo map I snagged off the web.

I was the first one to the trailhead that day!

 

This is considered one of the easier 14ers, but I wonder if any 14er is really easy???

I started my hike at 7am. The wildflowers were everywhere. I stopped counting at 20 different types of flowers.

The colors were intense and the contrasts with the snowbanks were amazing.

 

 

Along the way up, storm clouds threatened and it rained once for a short time. The halfway point is Sloan Lake

and I made that in about an hour. From there you have steep switchbacks up to the saddle and then the final

ascent to the summit.

One of the dozens of snowbanks I had to cross.

Sloan Lake from the switchbacks.

Some of the switchbacks to the saddle.

 

The summit is in sight!!!!

 

I reached the summit at 9:20am, a mere 2 hours and 20 minutes after a started. I really impressed myself with my

speed up the trail. The folks on top already had hiked two 14ers the day before and were strong hikers. They made it up

in 2 hours flat, so I wasn't too far off the mark. ;-)

View to the north and Uncompahgre Peak.

View to the south.

View to the east.

View to the west.

View of Sloan Lake from the top.

 

I made it back down to the truck in 90 minutes, but I made several stops to look at flowers.

The usual pikas and marmots were everywhere. I love the chirps the pikas make! :-)

A marmot near the trailhead.

 

I drove back out to the main dirt road and turned west to head over Cinnamon Pass. The road got worse and

climbed switchback after switchback. I LOVE the backroads in Colorado, so much fun! Dropping down the

other side of the pass, I came into Animas Forks, an old historic mining ghost town.

Driving up Cinnamon Pass.

The view of the ghost town at Animas Forks.

 

I continued on the road out to Silverton, amazed at all the beauty at every turn.

 

Once in Silverton, I had a late lunch at the Chatanooga Cafe and checked out the old-time trains. These things are

old, leaky, SMELLY machines, but cool as hell!!!

Train that just arrived.

Inside where the conductor sits.

 

The patent label on the side dated the turn of the century!

 

After Silverton, I drove down to Durango, then back over to Pagosa Springs, and south to home, arriving around 7pm. What a

heck of a 2 day trip and an awesome hike! I can't wait to do my next 14er! WOOHOO!!!

Thanks for reading. ;-)

Here is a link to all my images from the trip.

 

 

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