Saturday, July 28, 2012

Lookout Mountain and Horsetooth Peak.

Last week I set out for a shorter hike to get a goal I missed last year.  And this time around, I had a hiking companion.  I was able to convince my lovely wife to come with me.  I picked this hike because I knew it would be more challenging and hopefully more enjoyable for her.
To get to the Horse Creek Trailhead, take Route 7 from either side.  When you get to the small town of Meeker Park, look for CR 113N on the west side of the road (just opposite Meeker Lodge if I remember correctly- it's easy to go by).  Follow this dirt road, and just when you think you have gone too far, you'll see a sign for the trail on the right.  Parking is shortly after, with room for 3-4 vehicles only.  Make sure to not block any driveways.  Since this is an unofficial trailhead, there are no improvements, so be prepared. The trail starts out flat, but upon crossing the creek, it turns up... and up and up.  In all, you'll gain around 1000 feet per mile on this one. 
We came to an area with a large number of large trees down.  There must've been an avalanche this winter.  It is awe inspiring to see the remnants of this powerful force of nature, trees two feet in diameter snapped like twigs.
A huge tree uprooted, with myself for perspective.
Eventually, you will notice the trail is flattening out a bit and you'll see the saddle between Lookout and Meeker ahead.  The soil changes too, from a more organic brown dirt to sand.  Very soon after the trail flattens out entirely, start looking for a log across your path and a cairn on the left.  Look beyond this for more cairns, and follow these up to Lookout Mountain.
Upon arrival, head around to the east side of this rock formation.  From here it is a short third class scramble to the top.  Great views await...
On the top, shot by Katie from below.
Looking into Wild Basin.  Mount Copeland, Ouzel Peak, Mahana Peak, Isolation Peak.
And of course, great views of Mount Meeker await.
Looking down to our second goal of the day, Horsetooth Peak.  Twin Sisters in the background.
We essentially just climbed down Lookout, and bushwhacked down the ridge to Horsetooth.  It was not too bad really.
Upon our arrival, it took us some time to figure out where to go to get atop this peak.  We ended up talus hopping on the west side of the peak until we got almost all the way to the north end of it before finding the second class ascent to the high point.
East to the plains.
The convoluted surface makes it difficult to tell what is the true high point of this peak.
But there is a cairn.  With Twin Sisters in the background.
South along the ridge looking back up to Lookout.
My love!  I must say it is a great feeling to be able to share something that you love with someone that you love.
To get back to the trail, we descended back to what would be the southern face of Horsetooth.  We had noticed a cairn there, and thought it would be a good place to continue back down.  We were right.  There was a clear trail marked by cairns the whole way back to the Lookout Mountain trail.
If you want to go just to Horsetooth, or do it first, look on the left side of the Lookout trail for a unique double stacked cairn as the trail is starting to level out.  Beyond it in the woods you'll see another cairn.  This unofficial trail will take you right to Horsetooth.  Sorry I didn't get a picture of it!
Katie said her legs were sore for 4-5 days after this.  I could feel it a little bit the day after, but was feeling fine two days later.
Lookout Mountain via Horse Creek Trailhead:
2.5 miles one way, 2015 foot gain. Class 3 to gain the summit of Lookout. Moderate+.
Horsetooth Peak via Horse Creek Trailhead:
2.8 miles one way, 1644 foot gain.  Class 2 to gain the summit.  Moderate.
Do both together for a slightly longer moderate+ hike.

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