Tuesday, January 8, 2013

McGregor Mountain via Lumpy Ridge TH.

Several weeks ago when the temperatures were still unseasonably warm, Dan and I met up early one morning to try for one or more of the peaks in the Lumpy Ridge area.  This is somewhere in RMNP I hadn't really hiked at before, save for some wandering around with crashpads looking for boulder problems with Katie. 
The hike starts with a short gain, followed by a relatively flat few miles.  I know there are a ton of people who do the loop around Lumpy Ridge, which around ten miles. 
The scenery here is pretty impressive.  It is a working ranch so there are the occasional cow pies to avoid, but looking at photos like the two above can transport us back in time.  This is probably what most of Colorados front range looked like 150+ years ago.
Cattle grazing.
A deer sighting.
We stayed on the trail for 3 miles or so- if you look at a map, we left it very shortly after the trail takes a definite turn to go almost directly north to meet the Black Canyon trail, almost directly east of the high point of MacGregor.
Black Canyon Creek in all its glory.
We hopped the creek and started up.  The going was, of course, tough at times.  There were lots of trees down as seen below.
The Needles.
Lumpy Ridge and The Needles.
From the trail we could see places where there were no trees, just bare rock.  Thinking this would be easier to head up, we found some and stayed on it.  Well, it's a little steep.
Dan and F_\mathrm{f} \leq \mu F_\mathrm{n}.
Yeah, its a little steep.  Again we talked about the question of grade.  We decided this could be anywhere from third to low fifth class.
As you gain elevation, ever better views of Lumpy Ridge await.
Awesome looking Krumholtz near the summit.
We topped out the last slab and finally (it felt) reached a plateau.  The summit lie shortly after. 
Dan at the summit cairn.  If you happen to make it up here in 2013, take a new small notebook with you.  The one here was completely full. 
Looking down to the Fern Lake fire. 
Meeker and Longs. 
Looking into Mummy Range.  We've talked about doing Mummy Madness (though I prefer the name Mummy Kill:) next summer.
We decided to see if we could find a descent down the north side of the peak to try to make our way to the ominously named Dark Mountain.   
Another fatty Krumholtz near the summit.
We looked and circled back east around the north face, but after a rather technical climb up, decided we didn't want to try to find a way down the cliffs.  Dark Mountain another day then.
Longs and Meeker almost completely free of snow.
We ended up arriving back at the summit and descending southeast from here.  We ended up in the drainage between the mountain and the high point to its SE.  We followed this down to Black Canyon Creek.
Easy going at this moment, but we did face some slabs on the way down as well.
Black Canyon Creek.
And down, where it eventually meets with Fall River and ends up in Lake Estes. 
Cattle have moved, but not much.
A beautiful day.
McGregor Mountain as seen from the Black Canyon Trail.  It looks improbable for us to have climbed!
This was a pretty fun hike, not taking all that long, but still getting in a rather good off trail workout- we both felt we have done easier 12ers and 13ers.  I feel like my technical climbing experience helped alot since I was basically able to shut my mind off and do it, but it's not something absolutely necessary.
I am really looking forward to spending alot of time in this sector of the park next year.  Until then!
McGregor Mountain via Lumpy Ridge TH:
4.25ish miles one way, 2634 foot gain.  Third to fifth class.  Strenuous-.

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