In fact, it was in this small saddle area that I heard two whoomps, both fortunately on flat ground. The first saw a crack propagate about five feet on my right. The second settled an entire clearing about 15 feet in diameter. That was kind of freaky as I heard the snow settle pretty far away from me. It looked like there was a melt/freeze crust on top of powder, and that is what broke.
other peaks in the area.
I made it to treeline and picked a way west to stay on flatter ground. In the end I summited South Signal Mountain first. I stopped for a snack and looked at Pennock Peak.
I set my sights on Signal Mountain.
I curled up in the wind block on the summit and had another quick bite to eat. I also wanted to take a photo of the register.
This statement is both a reflection on our mortality and inspiration to never give up doing the things you love. Thank you Dottie McE. I hope you have one more summit in you!
last day of winter.
I made my way back to my snowshoe tracks. The route I spied worked, and I was able to avoid all the snow for the most part.
And just as a note, CR 43/Devils Gulch Road was virtually wiped out in the flood. Construction is currently ongoing, and looks to be completed by late 2015. From 8 am- 4 pm traffic is let through at five minutes past the hour on the hour from both directions (heading up from Drake, or down from Estes). If you plan to hike from this trail head, get an early start to avoid it, but know that might also give you a wait at the end of Dunraven Glade Road to get back home. There will be closures and night work as well, so check these websites for information and plan ahead.
I think this hike is a great option any time of year! In the winter, the trail can become less distinct, particularly as altitude is gained, so that can be a factor in reaching the summit, but the route is avalanche safe for the most part. And those parts that didn't look so good were quite easy to avoid. Views of the Mummy Range, Longs Peak and area, and the North Fork Basin await. There is enough elevation gain and distance to make it challenging. But if Dottie McE can do it, you can do it!
Signal Mountain in Winter:
Bulwark Ridge, 10890 feet: 4.5 miles each way, 3090 foot gain. Second class. Strenuous-.
Signal Mountain, 11262 feet: 5.7 miles each way, 3362 foot gain. Strenuous-.
South Signal Mountain, 11248 feet: 5.2 miles each way, 3348 foot gain. Strenuous-.
As a whole, expect to gain around 4000 feet of gross elevation, and cover 11.5 ish miles. Strenuous-.