Friday, April 18, 2014

Cleaning up the East Side.

Come on summer!  I guess a bad thing about my dedication to getting out as much as possible is that I am running out of things to do that can be reasonably accessed from the east.  Two weeks ago, I strung some shorter destinations together with driving between trail heads to be able to get a good day in.
Which brings me to another point, recently discussed with a friend.  Does anyone know how Lisa Foster populated the list of every destination in the park?  I am curious why South Lateral Moraine is named as a destination, yet Bierstadt Moraine isn't.  Along those lines, several unofficially named but ranked summits (Gem Peak, Dundicking) didn't make the cut, while other unofficially named and unranked summits did.  Anyway, just curious.
I started out from the Bierstadt Lake trail head, and aimed for Bierstadt Moraine.  I'd never hiked this trail before, and while it is short, it is also relatively steep and was a bit difficult to follow at times in the snow. 
Seeing clouds like this= windy day!
From part way up the moraine.  The trail was completely dry in some places and under several feet of snow in others.
First I took a detour over to Bierstadt Lake.  Why not?
Then I went back to find Bierstadt Moraine.  To find this feature: once the trail to Bierstadt Lake tops the moraine it will gain a little bit more elevation before going down to the lake.  At this high point simply head east.  The next high point you come to is the top of the moraine.  It should be no more than a five minute walk from the trail.
I descended back to the car and headed to Hollowell Park to get to South Lateral Moraine.  Unfortunately, I wasn't paying total attention and parked at the park and ride for Bear Lake and ascended that high point.  Well, there's not much there in the way of a high point.  I soon realized my error and turned back.
Back on the right track, I ascended the moraine past boulders of all sizes.  I got to the top and went west until I found the uncairned high point.  It looked like this small boulder...
which was as west as you could go on the moraine before it lost elevation to form a saddle between it and Steep Mountain.
Back at the car once again, I drove down to the Moraine Park Museum (opposite where you'd turn to go to Fern Lake th) to get to Eagle Cliff Mountain.  I parked in the lot and set out uphill.  
This was a fun little summit.  If you just aim for the high point, you'll likely encounter some cliff faces.  You can traverse around them to keep it easy or ascend them if you want a little spice.  I wanted a little spice.  This was up to fourth class.
Deer Mountain from the summit of Eagle Cliff Mountain.
This looks back west along the short ridge of Eagle Cliff Mountain.
Back down and in the car once again, I drove to the Deer Mountain th.  There was a little bit of snow near the bottom, which steadily increased as I gained altitude.
The true summit is very far east on the peak, so you actually loose some elevation after it feels like you've topped out.  
A large and flat summit cairn.
Longs Peak from the summit of Deer Mountain.
The short mountain in the middle of this photo is Eagle Cliff Mountain.  
On the way back I "ascended" the rather unremarkable Deer Ridge west.  The high point appears to be immediately off the trail on your left after the trail takes a sharp left near the th. 
Back at the car once again, I felt like I had a full day despite gaining no elevation greater than the 10013 feet of Deer Mountain.  It is always good to get out and fun to get to some of these minor destinations on the east side of the park!
Bierstadt Moraine:
1.2 miles each way, 640 foot gain (8860-9500).  Moderate-.
South Lateral Moraine:
.3 miles each way, 540 foot gain (8180-8720).  Moderate-.
Eagle Cliff Mountain:
.5 miles each way, 786 foot gain (8120-8906).  Moderate-.
Deer Mountain:
3.1 miles each way, 1093 foot gain (8920-10013).  Moderate.
Deer Ridge West:
.1 miles each way, 92 foot gain (9012-8920).  Easy-.

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