Thursday, October 15, 2015

Indian Lookout Mountain and Points 6446, 7985, and 7790.

Last week was the first in quite awhile that I did not make the journey up to Estes Park or beyond.  With careful planning, I was able to get out almost every single week over the summer, despite the weather conditions.  But this week, the weather turned out to be a bit too much.
Thus, I decided to stay down and look more closely at another list I've been coincidentally working on: the Boulder County High Points.  With the time spent in RMNP, I'd already gotten through nearly a quarter of this list, and it seems like a good idea to focus on the lower peaks over the winter when the high mountains won't be as accessible.  
Of course, there are some issues with this list.  Many of the peaks are located on private property, or are surrounded by private property.  Some are on public property, but are closed to access all year round.  I guess the best call is to use your judgement: if an area is under a permanent raptor nesting closure, wait until the other seasonal raptor closures have been lifted or go before they go into effect.  Be respectful of the mountains.
Indian Lookout Mountain is accessible from Hall Ranch, but lies in a year round raptor closure.  When you reach the intersection of 66 west and 7/36, it is the peak directly in front of you.  It can be reached from either side, but after some observations, starting at Antelope might be best.  From either side, one could head all the way up to the saddle and turn east, or (from Antelope) break off from the trail at some point and head north through some scrubby low growth and sparse pine trees.  Wear pants and watch out for snakes.
 A small rise.
You'll likely approach from the west.  This face is third class, or so I hear.  The easiest access comes from the east.
Low clouds coming in.
Take the same way back down, and you'll be in good shape.
Point 6446 is most easily accessible from the Picture Rock Trailhead of Heil Ranch, and while on public property, lies within a County Open Space Permanent Closure area. 
Socked in.
If the weather looked this bad this low, I imagine it was worse farther up.  
The next day I was able to see a light coating of snow on Mount Meeker and Lady Washington.  While I've got nothing against hiking in snow, I am not a fan of driving in it.  I set out to visit some of the high points in Roosevelt National Forest.  The regulations are a bit more lax here, both good and bad, and I was able to bring my little buddies along.  
I drove up Rt. 36 and turned left onto CR 47/Big Elk Meadows.  This is just a little bit past Pinewood Springs.  I continued along CR 47 until I hit the turnoff for the Coulson Gulch trail.  This is one the left and right after where the pavement turns to dirt.  I parked along the side of the road here, as the dirt road up to the trail head is quite rutted and I didn't think my car could make it.  
It was a short walk up the road to the trail head, but I could already see the effects of less rules, as there is trash everywhere.  I could have filled a trash bag just on this short hike up and down.  Pretty sad.
At the trail head, point 7985 lies almost directly south and slightly east.  We stayed on the road for a short time before cutting off and heading directly uphill.  There were a few false summits, but we made it to the top fairly quickly and easily. 
Dogs near the summit.  I don't have a photo of it, but both of them did actually climb the second class ramp up to the true summit.
We had some water and a snack, and then headed back the way we'd come.
 Point 7985.
A good view from the top.
Back at the car, I drove back down CR 47 toward 36, but turned off at jeep road 118A.  I parked here and started up the road.  After maybe 15 minutes, you'll come to a flatter area with a figure eight on the left.  Turn left here and find a trail leaving through the large rocks ringing the area.  You'll find this is an old jeep road as well, but has ceased being used for that purpose and is now going back to single track.
Continue up on this as a trail splits and then comes back on the right.  Continue straight at the trail drops into some rockier sections.  You'll finally reach a saddle at around 8000 feet.  You'll gain some more elevation and find yourself at a four way intersection- simply keep going straight.  The trail will loose some more elevation, ending up in a saddle just below 7500 feet.  
Point 7790 from the saddle.  
Continue along the trail and gain some more elevation on the other side.  Bear right at the intersection and stay on the trail for a few minutes before cutting back west to find the high point.  This is third class, so I tied the pups to a tree near the base and made a quick ascent.
Button Rock from 7790.
Layers of mountains.  The weather prediction for this day was definitely wrong!
We headed back down toward the trail and took a break in the seasonally wet 'puddle' near the trail intersection.
Gunner being Gunner. 
Happy Jersey!
After some water and food we headed back the way we'd come.  Back at home the dogs fell asleep almost immediately, while I had some around the house errands to attend to.  What a life!
Two days of Boulder County Highpoints:
Indian Lookout Mountain, 6533 feet: 4 miles round trip, 1375 foot gain.  Moderate.
Point 6446: 4 miles round trip, 1081 foot gain.  Moderate.
Point 7985: 2.5 miles round trip, 639 foot gain.  Moderate-.
Point 7790: 7.6 miles round trip, 2498 foot gain.  Moderate+.

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