Monday, April 28, 2014

Beaver Mountain via Beaver Meadows TH.

Well, it's summer (kinda).  Which means that instead of sitting inside writing, I've been outside enjoying Colorado.  Today was my sixth day on as far as some sort of physical exercise.  The past days have been climbing, mountain biking, hiking, weights, mountain biking, climbing and weights.  And just this morning I told my wife I wished I'd been able to ride more this week!
Long story short: I am behind two weeks now on writing up hikes in the park.  But here I am trying!
I set out for Beaver Mountain early on the morning of April 15th.  I got up just in time to catch the last little bit of the total lunar eclipse, got my stuff together, and made the drive up to Estes.
The Beaver Meadows TH was still closed, so I parked at one of the pullouts on 36 opposite the road to the TH.  I was feeling pretty tired, but I found the sights as the sun rose to be quite invigorating.
The moon sets over some of the higher peaks on the continental divide.
First sunlight of the day.
I used to hate getting up early. 
Not that I love it now.
But these views make it all worthwhile.
So beautiful!
When I was up here the week before, most of the lower elevation snow was melted completely.  A storm the day before left me eight inches or so to deal with in the start.  The snowshoes were on for most of the day.
I followed the trail for a short amount of time before just breaking out straight for the high point.  It turns out the high point you can see from below is not the true high point of the mountain.
I slowly gained elevation and was here rewarded with an interesting view of Deer Mountain.
It's still winter up here, but the day grew quite warm.  I think the highest temperature I saw was around fifty degrees.  Which means that heavy, slushy spring snow that sticks to everything.
Eventually I reached a summit plateau.
Was this the summit?
Or this, which looked like a man made cairn?
In the end, both of those points were lower than this mound of snow.  There may be a cairn under there somewhere, but I sure didn't find it on this day. 
Mummy Range as seen from near the summit.
Tombstone Ridge.  This was also on the list for the day.  I dropped down to the Ute Trail, moving carefully.
Once I reached the bottom, I started up.  The going was very difficult to say the least.  I already knew I wouldn't see the top since I'd hit my hard turn around time well before I got there, but I was up here already so I just went for it. 
This is the view I had from the place I finally turned back.  All day I kept seeing those wind sculpted clouds and felt glad I was down in the trees.
Chasm View was another possible destination on this day.  I'm glad I didn't go for that.  I could see the wind really ripping up there.
It felt like it took me only ten minutes to go down what it took me an hour to go up, and I passed the place where I joined the Ute Trail.  From then I was on my own.
Until I found this NPS sign.  At least I was going the right way!
Standing at the top of Windy Gulch Cascades. 
A wintery wonderland, though the snow is melting fast at lower altitudes and on southern exposures.
On the way back I passed a few interesting rock formations, like this balanced rock.
And managed to stay mostly on the trail somehow.
Looking up towards Beaver Mountain from near the trail head.  I didn't even know I was on the correct trail until I started to notice someone elses snowshoe prints, and then realized they were mine.
The higher peaks remained swaddled in blown snow.  Again, I was happy I stayed low.
Deer Mountain.
Tombstone Ridge behind Beaver Mountain.
I got back to the car and took a few minutes to relax before starting the drive back down.  The snow conditions in addition to the relative steepness of the hike made this a pretty difficult day over all.  It would have been easier in colder weather and light powder, or in warmer weather and no snow at all.  But so it goes.  In any season this is a fun minor peak to do and it probably doesn't get a whole bunch of traffic.  
Beaver Mountain via Beaver Meadows th:
2.6 miles one way, 2051 foot gain (8440-10491).  Second class.  Strenuous- (easier in summer).
Windy Gulch Cascades:
2 miles one way,  836 foot gain (8440-9276).  Moderate.
Note that starting from 36 adds on 1.3 miles each way.  
Windy Gulch Cascades marked my 199th named destination in RMNP.  What would be number 200?  Stay tuned....

3 comments:

  1. I really enjoy your trip reports. I've got a list started of ones that I want to do during the week with my toddler. Most of our summer weekend hiking in RMNP revolves around fishing. I want to have hikes we can do during the week that just let him explore. I added this one to the list!
    -stephanie

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Stephanie. I was in the same area this week and the snowpack has shrunk considerably, should soon be gone entirely. Hope to see you out there at some point!
      -Andy

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