Sunday, October 4, 2015

The ________ Mountain Group.

The Clever! Mountain Group may or may not lie somewhere within Rocky Mountain National Park.  Whether it does or not, it is illegal to access these peaks.  Do not go here for any reason!  Ever!
If you happen to be reading this as a tourist, you will find no information on how to get into this area.  If you are reading this because you are trying to complete a list that might include some of the peaks in this area, you're going to find a way to do them closure or not.
Up until last year, the Cleverer! trail would open in early August or later- this was often the obvious choice to complete these peaks, later in the afternoon, once tourism in the area had dropped, or very early in the morning before it had begun.  But not so early that your headlamp might be visible from places such as Trail Ridge Road.  Early as in, say, hitting the trail about half an hour before true sunrise.
As of last year, it is closed, possibly forever.  But one may or may not park at a trail head very close to it, and one may or may not use the trail anyway.  Or perhaps one might just bushwhack for a short (~250 feet) while uphill, find an animal trail (of which there are plenty in the area), and call it good.  Maybe.  If one were to be so devious.  
Trail Ridge Road gains altitude on the west side.
Below Copy Mountain.
Snow on the high 13ers of the Mummy Range
Species Mountain and North Exemplar Mountain, itself a ranked but unofficially named 12er.
Looking back to North Instance Mountain.
The 11860 foot ranked Pooder Peak.
The Never Summer Mountains, pure beauty.
The calls of a few Elk bugling were heard far away, but pretty close to the summit there arose one pretty close to me.  A few more feet of gain, and we locked eyes, right on top of a rise.  We kept an eye on each other and moved in opposite directions.
11860 feet.  As you may have already guessed, there was no register.
The Individual Mountains.
 Confluence Peak fairly close by.  I suffered for that one!
North Case Mountain from Exhibit Mountain.
South Sample Mountain, little more than a bump in the road on the way back.  Despite the closure, there are still a number of trails in the area.  Many are from animals, but some are from man.  This is a good place to see our impact on nature.  How many years will it take for a trail in this environment to cease to exist?  It's not like you can throw down some grass seed.
A unique view down into Forest Canyon, a place where you can go, but I would recommend against going unless you really, really, really like bushwhacking.
South Variety Mountain.  There is still a large wind block built up here.
Looking back.
Forest Canyon and summit cairn.
At the Caldera viewing area.  One can clearly see the mark of humanity here, as the soil in the viewing area has been eroded down several inches below the level of the tundra.  There are several signs advising you not to go up or around or on.  If this trail ever opens up again, obey them.  Interestingly enough, I could see distinct boot prints in the trail down to here.
Sheep Rock and Jackstraw Mountain.
Continuing on, a bit of start.  Something ahead on a thin trail running south.  A person?  Closer and closer.  It was a sign, one of those blank ones that the NPS will attach information to.  Nothing on it.
Nearing Shipwreck Mountain. This is unranked, lying at 11340 feet. 
The lovely Kawuneeche Valley.  It looked awesome from this unique viewpoint.
Back to the high peaks of the park.
This looks familiar, perhaps like features caused by asteroid impacts you might see covering the Moon?  All of the rock I saw over the day distinctively reminded me of what you find in the Never Summer Range.  Loose piles of volcanic slag.  Quite different from the character of the rock to the east.
The summit cairn, and fun days past in the Never Summers behind.  According to my friend Chris, there was a register here in May of 2012.  No longer.
Looking down to Ovis canadensis Lake.
So beautiful.  Dapples from raindrops on the surface.
The Specimen Mountain group as seen from Trail Ridge Road.
I caught some rain once back at the car, and the drive took a long time due to traffic.  But it was fun to at least make the drive one way in daylight!
No link to hike map on Caltopo.
All in this day covered approximately 12.8 miles, with 4302 feet of elevation gain in second class terrain with occasional bushwhacking.  Strenuous-.

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