We popped out on the broad summit plateau, glad to be on easier terrain (or at least I was!). From here, it was just a few minutes and a short jaunt over to the summit of Twin Peaks, 11957 feet.
From here I looked over to Twin Peaks West...
We decided to head north to take the standard descent route down. Last year I attempted this route, but I saw a bear run into the gully I wanted to go down, so I took the one more to the north. What a difference the southern gully made- an easy to follow animal trail the whole way down, nothing more than second class (if that even), and no rock to move over at all! It was pretty easy, way better than the route I took last year.
It took us about twenty minutes to get into the area of Watanga Lake, though we hit the trail below the lake, and never saw it. While the route we took up was fun and adventurous, this method would have definitely been easier, and likely been quicker.
We cruised down the trail, enjoying the sights and some conversation. We arrived back at the car shortly before 1 pm, giving us around 5:45 to complete these two peaks.
We got into the car and started driving north, to reach the Shadow Mountain trail head. While relatively close, parts of the drive are on dirt roads with lower speed limits, and it took us about 50 minutes to reach the second trail head and get ready.
The goals here were Shadow Mountain and Mount Bryant, both unranked. The distance looked to be about 7 miles each way to get to Mount Bryant, and Fosters book talked about thick forest in the area. We made great time on the Shadow Mountain trail, which stays low and close to Shadow Mountain Lake for the first mile and a half, and then starts switch backing uphill for 3.3 miles.
The trail isn't rocky, and at a moderate grade, and the miles went by quickly. We arrived at the Shadow Mountain Lookout about an hour and forty five minutes after we left the th.
East Inlet Basin.
We took a slightly different route than described in Fosters book, heading east from the high point of the trail to visit Shadow Mountain. She describes thick trees along the way, but we found the forest to be rather open, and simply skirted any troubles that stood in our way.
From the summit, we left south east and contemplated dropping in elevation to start up Mount Bryant. A look at the topo convinced us that it was probably best to stay on the easier ridge down to the saddle between Shadow and Bryant; this worked quite well, and the forest stayed pleasantly open. In fact, we were making such good time that it felt like we were still hiking on a trail.
From the saddle, we started to encounter some more rock and thicker patches of forest, but again, were able to move to avoid these if the going looked too tough.
Much to our surprise, we soon found a fairly well put in trail...
historical maps I could find and was not able to locate a trail in this area on any of them, so who knows?
We broke from this trail, and after a false summit or two, made it to the top.
some info about him). And, as Foster noted, the Bryant family came out from Oregon in 1981 to climb this peak and commented in the register, "Everyone should climb their own mountain." Truly a beautiful sentiment that echoed through 35 years to reach us on this summit in 2016. I was less than a year old when those words were written.
We left the summit, found the trail, and decided to visit the rocky outcrop slightly north west of the true summit. This provided the views we'd been missing.
We got back to the trail and decided to run down. Unfortunately for me, it's been awhile since I've ran, and I pooped out before we got back to the trail head. We got situated at the car and started the long drive back, parting ways in Lyons.
In the end, the day turned out to be a pretty fun one, despite my initial annoyance at having to go back for something I'd already visited before. In some ways, I find these lower, treed in summits more rewarding than the higher ones.
How cool is it to find a register placed two years after your parents got married, long before the concept of you even existed. How humbling to visit a summit that has been in situ for millenia, and will be for long after I am gone. But through the threads of time, and a shared passion, we can connect, as I connected with Frede Jensen on this day. One day we will cease to exist, but our passion will never die.
Link to hike map on Caltopo.
The Southwest Corner of RMNP Part 2 (distances as part of the hike):
From Roaring Fork th:
Twin Peaks East, 11957 feet: 4.1 miles, 3657 foot gain. Third class. Strenuous.
Twin Peaks West, 11940 feet: 4.2 miles, 3640 foot gain. Second class. Strenuous.
This leg of the hike covered 9.05 miles with 4006 feet of elevation gain in up to third class terrain. Strenuous.
From Shadow Mountain th:
Shadow Mountain Lookout, 9923 feet: 4.75 miles, 1503 foot gain. Moderate.
Shadow Mountain, 10155 feet: 5.45 miles, 1735 foot gain. Second class. Moderate.
Mount Bryant, 11034 feet: 7.1 miles, 2614 foot gain. Second class. Moderate+.
This leg of the hike covered 13.76 miles with 3435 feet of elevation gain in up to second class terrain. Strenuous-.