Pegmatite Points

On the first Tuesday of August, I woke up and decided to pick a somewhat easy hike for the day. I figured it was time to do some more exploring in the Mount Evans Wilderness. And with that decision in mind, I found myself at the Deer Creek trailhead outside of Bailey, Colorado.

Here’s some more info about my hike that day:

  • Date: August 6th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 9.9 Miles
  • Route: Tanglewood Trail via Mount Evans Wilderness

Getting There

Both the Pegmatite Points and Rosalie Peak are accessible by the Deer Creek Trailhead. Interestingly enough, you can find this trailhead by typing in Tanglewood trails on Google Maps. Personally, I like this trailhead as it is set back in the woods pretty far away from everything and you can also hear the creek as soon as you get out of the car.

The Route

From the trailhead, the route up to Pegmatite Points is very easy to follow. Early on, I crossed a bridge that goes over Tanglewood Creek and just stood on the bridge taking it all in. I had the feeling that it was going to be a good day.

Tanglewood Creek.

From there, I followed the trail up the creek until I came to a junction where the Tanglewood trail and Rosalie trail meet. It is very important that you keep going straight on the Tanglewood trail at this point.

Before you cross into the Mount Evans Wilderness, you will want to make sure that you fill out a free wilderness permit and keep it with you for the rest of your hike.

Heading up the Tanglewood Trail.
A sign welcoming you to the Mount Evans Wilderness.

For the first several miles, the hike is pretty mellow and just follows along Tanglewood Creek. At times, parts of the creek run onto parts of the trail but these can easily be avoided. Before reaching treeline, I encountered some nice switchbacks but they didn’t really last too long.

Going up through the switchbacks.

Once above treeline, the views opened up dramatically as the woods down below come into view. Additionally, the surrounding peaks also start to become more visible.

Peaceful view.
Looking west.

The switchbacks continue well above treeline until I reached the saddle between Rosalie Peak and Pegmatite Points. At this point, it was really starting to get hot as the afternoon sun was directly above me. At the saddle, Rosalie Peak is accessible by going right while the Pegmatite Points are off to the left.

Beautiful view on a beautiful August day.
A steep rock face just below Rosalie Peak.
The Pegmatite Points!

From far away, the Pegmatite Points really don’t look all that imposing. But once up close, I encountered some fun sections that required some easy scrambling until I finally reached the summit.

False summit.
Scrambling fun.

The Summit

With the summit at 12,227 feet, the views are just remarkable. Rosalie Peak looked so breathtaking and Denver is even visible way off to the east too. I sat up there and ate my lunch taking it all in for awhile. It didn’t even seem real.

Rosalie Peak from Pegmatite Points.
Another summit view looking out into the surrounding wilderness.
The valley below.

The Return Trip

With some more clouds starting to roll in, it seemed like it was good time to pack up and head back down towards the trailhead. But I simply had to take some more photos on the way back.

A stream crossing.
Heading through the woods.
I could sit here all day.

Although it was an uneventful trip back, it was so serene and peaceful out there. I really didn’t want to leave at all. Nature is just so amazing!

Until next time!

Four Peak Monday

After working my 12 hour shift from Sunday afternoon into early Monday morning, most people would probably go to bed. But not me. I had much different plans for my Monday and none of them involved spending my day off sleeping.

With that in mind, I made my way out to Berthoud Pass to begin what turned out to be a pretty remarkable day. Here’s some more info about my hike:

  • Date: August 5th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 13.6 Miles
  • Route: Mount Flora, Mount Eva, Witter Peak and Parry Peak via Continental Divide Trail

Getting There

Berthoud Pass is easily accessible off of US Highway 40 just outside of Winter Park, Colorado. Their is plenty of parking too.

The Route

From Berthoud Pass, I headed up to the summit of 13,146 foot Mount Flora and made it up there pretty quickly. It was pretty foggy that morning with a chance of afternoon thunderstorms developing later on.

Morning fog near the summit of Mount Flora.

From there, I made my way over to 12,884 foot Witter Peak which is on the way to Mount Eva. At the point, the fog was beginning to dissipate revealing a peaceful morning. I only encountered a handful of people in the eight hours that I spent out in the wilderness that day too.

Witter Peak in the distance.
From the summit of Witter Peak looking east towards Denver.
The view to the south.

After taking a quick break atop Witter Peak, it was time to continue on. Upon walking back to where I had originally veered off trail, I chose to continue further on towards the summit of 13,130 foot Mount Eva. It was pretty uneventful and before long I was signing my name in the summit register and taking in the views of the surrounding area.

Took a quick moment to relax and reflect on life.
Debris from an old building on Mount Eva.

After reaching the summit of three mountains that day, I simply was not content so I continued on my journey towards Parry Peak. At this point, thunderstorm clouds were beginning to form far off to the north. I figured I would make it quick and then retrace my steps back down towards the trailhead.

Parry Peak.

As I was making my way up Parry Peak, I was starting to definitely get tired but the end was in sight! So I soldiered on. But damn I was so relieved when I finally made it to the summit of 13,392 foot Parry Peak. I sat down at one of the rock shelters and ate nearly all of the food that I had brought with me. It was pretty amazing to be up there looking down and marveling at how small Winter Park actually looked.

Near the summit of Parry Peak looking back towards Mount Eva and Mount Flora.
Several rock shelters atop Parry Peak.
Looking north towards the Indian Peaks Wilderness.
Winter Park.

The Return Trip

With storm clouds rolling in, it was soon time to head back. But it wasn’t that easy. Although all of these mountains are connected by rolling tundra, hiking back required reaching the summits of both Mount Eva and Mount Flora again in order to get back to Berthoud Pass. My calves were definitely burning when all was said and done.

Mount Eva straight ahead.
Looking back at Parry Peak from the lower slopes of Mount Eva.
Thunderstorms moving in to the north while I was descending Mount Flora.

Reaching the summit of four different mountains in one day was an incredible experience. I’ll never forget it. And by the time Monday night rolled around, I was definitely happy to go to bed for the first time in two days!

Mount Parnassus and Woods Mountain

On a sunny late July morning, I headed out for yet another cool hiking adventure. On this particular occasion, I set out to summit both 12,940 foot Woods Mountain as well as 13,579 foot Mount Parnassus. By my standards, it was a relatively easy day. Here’s some more information:

  • Date Hiked: July 23rd, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 7.9 Miles
  • Route: Watrous Gulch Trail to Woods Mountain and west slopes of Mount Parnassus
  • Class: 2

Getting There

The Herman Gulch trailhead is accessible by taking exit 218 off of Interstate 70. As soon as you go down the exit ramp, you will want to take two quick right turns and go on a dirt road. Plenty of parking can be found here, but definitely get there early if you plan on going during the weekend!

The Route

From the beginning of the Herman Gulch trail, I reached the intersection where both the Herman Gulch and Watrous Gulch trails split apart from each other and continued up the Watrous Gulch trail.

Where the trails intersect.

Below treeline, the trail is surrounded by a lot of trees and is pretty relaxing. The further up I started to get, I noticed that it does get pretty steep rather early on. Upon reaching a small creek, I was also greeted with a large uprooted tree!

Large uprooted tree.
The trail among the trees.

Before too long, the trees start to thin out. The surrounding area starts to come into view with remarkable views of nearby 14er Torreys Peak too.

Looking to the south towards Torreys Peak.

It was really turning out to be a nice morning. With nothing but blue skies around, I continued up the Watrous Gulch trail and made a quick stream crossing to stay on the trail. Right after the stream crossing, I came to another intersection for the Bard Creek trail but continued on the Watrous Gulch trail for a good while after that. You can still reach the summit of Mount Parnassus if you do end up taking the Bard Creek trail too.

Watrous Gulch.
Working my way up towards Woods Mountain.

Finally, I found myself out of the woods and above treeline. I probably say it all the time, but being above treeline and among the mountains is unlike anything else.

Looking back to the south.

Now, it was time to head up the southern slopes of Woods Mountain. An easier route does exist but it seemed pretty circuitous at the time. Nonetheless, I found myself on the trail at the top of the ridge before too long anyway.

I went straight up from this point.
Looking back down towards where I came up the mountain.
The trail on top of the ridge.

From this ridge, I continued east until I reached the summit of Woods Mountain. I took a well deserved break at the summit before continuing onto Mount Parnassus. Even from here, it was pretty awesome to look around at all of the neighboring peaks and see the ones that I have already reached the summit of.

Woods Mountain Summit

The views of other nearby 13ers was pretty remarkable as well!

Looking over towards Mount Parnassus and Bard Peak.
Looking out to the west towards Pettingell Peak and The Citadel.

After pondering for awhile and admiring the remarkable landscape, I picked a line and started to make my way up the western slopes of Mount Parnassus. The sun was starting to beat down but was nothing a little bit of sunscreen couldn’t handle!

Starting the journey up Mount Parnassus.
Almost to the summit!

The Summit

The summit of Mount Parnassus is just downright amazing. The route to nearby Bard Peak and Engelmann Peak becomes visible.

Mount Parnassus Summit.
Looking over towards Grays and Torreys Peaks.
Looking west.

The views in every direction were remarkable. And I figure that I probably spent more than thirty minutes at the summit. But it was getting closer to noon so it seemed like it was time to head back down in the direction of the trailhead.

The Return Trip

On the way down Mount Parnassus, I hiked towards the saddle between Woods Mountain and Mount Parnassus. From there, I headed for one of the side trails that cut off from the main trail up Watrous Gulch. But don’t worry I took a lot of pictures along the way back!

Looking up towards Woods Mountain.
Love this one.
The trail down to Watrous Gulch.

Overall, this hike was splendid. It had amazing scenery with remarkable views in every direction. I’d recommend it and look forward to doing it again sometime.

Vasquez Peak

Hiking through the Vasquez Peak Wilderness in order to reach 12,947 foot Vasquez Peak was certainly one hell of an adventure. It tested my stamina with the constant elevation change but I embraced the challenge. In fact, this hike was even referred to as the hardest hike in Grand County, Colorado. Here’s some more information:

  • Date Hiked: July 9th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 12.4 Miles
  • Route: Berthoud Pass via the Continental Divide Trail and Stanley Mountain

Getting There

Berthoud Pass is easily accessible from US Route 40 and offers some incredible hiking along the Continental Divide. The trail is on the west side of the road, so be careful and look both ways when crossing because it’s pretty much a blind curve!

The Route

The first part of this route follows the Continental Divide Trail and nearly reaches the summit of Stanley Mountain. But it’s all uphill for a little while until you get up onto the divide!

Not a cloud in the sky that morning!
The view once you get onto the Continental Divide Trail.

Now this is the part where things start to get interesting. Once I reached Stanley Mountain, it was time to descend to Vasquez Pass which is nearly 800 feet lower in elevation and quite steep. This part took what seemed like an eternity too.

At the beginning of the steep part.
The view from Vasquez Pass looking west.

From Vasquez Pass, I then went up the steep unnamed peak that is directly to the north of Stanley Mountain. It was pretty treacherous given the fact that a considerable amount of snow was still around.

Heading up the steep unnamed peak.
Looking back at Stanley Mountain.

Eventually, Vasquez Peak started to come more into view. But their was still plenty of work to be done!

Vasquez Peak!

At this point, it starts to flatten out a little bit before one more decent uphill section before reaching the summit. Even in early July when I hiked this, a lot of snow could still be found on the surrounding mountains.

The surrounding mountains.
Just below the summit.

Reaching the summit was definitely a welcome and much earned site!

The Summit

The summit.

The wind at the summit was absolutely ridiculous. It was gusting the entire 30 minutes that I was just sitting up there taking in the scenery. But it was so worth it.

Another summit view.

Before long, I was on my way again and wondering if I would see any other people or wildlife in the next several hours.

The Return Trip

So I attempted to retrace my steps back but somehow took a wrong turn and found myself surrounded by snow. But I wasn’t worried and chose to slide down through it using my backpack.

Looking back at Vasquez Peak.
One last zoom in photo of the mountain peaks off to the west.
Where I slid down from.
The snowy area I got through.

I figure the trip back took about four hours. All of the continuous up and down hiking was starting to make me tired. But I persevered and got through it. I guess I didn’t realize just how steep the majority of this hike was until I was about to start descending the unnamed peak.

Looking over at Stanley Mountain on the way back.
To truly give you an idea about how steep this section is. Not for the faint of heart!
One last picture before I began the long journey back to Stanley Mountain.

About an hour and a half later, I was finally back on the Continental Divide Trail and pretty close to the summit of Stanley Mountain. I was beginning to walk away when I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. And sure enough I was right! A mountain goat was lurking below the summit of Stanley Mountain enjoying the peaceful summer afternoon.

Looking back at the unnamed peak while nearly to the top of Stanley Mountain.
Mountain Goat living the high life!

After finally departing from Stanley Mountain, the remainder of the hike back to my car at Berthoud Pass was rather uneventful. That stroll on the flat tundra and a few downhill sections allowed me to just put it in cruise control and relax.

One last look back at Vasquez Peak from the Continental Divide Trail.

Overall, it took me about 8 hours to complete. Additionally, I would recommend starting very early because most of this hike is completely exposed above treeline.

As I look back on it, this route to Vasquez Peak was both mentally and physically demanding. I am glad I challenged myself and conquered it!

Stanley Mountain

Located within the Vasquez Peak Wilderness area, the hike to the summit of Stanley Mountain is a truly remarkable one. Standing at 12,521 feet, it proved to be a great challenging hike, especially considering the fact that their was still a decent amount of snow until I managed to get above treeline.

Here’s some more info about my hike that day:

  • Date Hiked: June 25th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: 7.9 Miles
  • Total Elevation Change: 1,214 Feet
  • Summit Elevation: 12,521 Feet

Getting There

Stanley Mountain can be accessed from Berthoud Pass just off of US Highway 40. At the pass, you will find plenty of parking and restrooms. Once there, you simply have to carefully cross the highway and follow the trail as it begins its ascent into the Vasquez Peak Wilderness Area.

Alternatively, you can also access Stanley Mountain by driving to a parking area that is near the Henderson Mine and hike up from there on a well defined trail.

The Journey

From the start of the trail until I got above treeline, it was nothing but scattered patches of both snow and snow drifts. At one point, I even encountered a snow drift that was about four feet tall on the trail. So, I was pretty much forced to follow the footsteps of several other people who attempted it before I did, and even bushwhack at times too.

Scattered deep snow drifts.
A deep snow drift on the trail.

The views really started to open up above treeline. I was quite relieved to be above treeline that day because it was a genuine struggle. But it was so worth it. I’m super glad I didn’t turn around and found the motivation within me!

Looking towards the east.
Still quite a bit of snow!

Only one particularly steep section stood out to me on this hike. It looks more difficult than it actually was. And once I got past this section of zigzagging switchbacks, it was smooth sailing to the summit.

Steep switchbacks with snow at the top.

While hiking through the switchbacks, I also happened to stumble upon several Ptarmigans. Additionally, a marmot also came out of seemingly nowhere and ran up the trail ahead of me before it disappeared.

Ptarmigan out living its best life.

At the top of the switchbacks, I finally reached the top of the ridge. Right at this point, the wind started to pick up and was just absolutely brutal. Also, the snow was almost completely melted off the trail, except for one small snowfield a bit further ahead. Everything else could be easily avoided.

The journey ahead.
Looking towards the northeast.
Getting closer to the summit!

Luckily enough, the weather also held off the entire time while I was above treeline.

A picturesque day!

The Summit

Overall. the views from the summit were pretty neat. I probably sat up there for a good 15 minutes or so before I decided to explore some of the surrounding area.

Looking down on the Henderson Mine area.
Looking to the west.
The actual summit.

So before I turned around, I started to descend down towards Vasquez Pass just out of curiosity to see just how steep it was. The path down is actually well marked with cairns. Ultimately, I decided to turn around as I figured storms would start to form at anytime due to the fact that it was already almost noon.

The Return Trip

Overall, the trip back to Berthoud Pass was eventful in that it involved doing some more bushwhacking and watching some thunderstorms form nearby. Also on my way back, I noticed that their were still some cornices at the edges of several of the ridges that looked pretty deep!

Watching a storm forming to the south.
Pretty big cornice.
Getting closer to Berthoud Pass.

Overall, I really enjoyed this hike. I will most likely hike out this way again when I head up to Vasquez Peak later on this summer. I’d definitely recommend this hike to anybody too. It was hard but not overwhelming at all. It was a pretty rewarding 12er with great views nearly the entire way too. Definitely a day well spent!

Bison Peak

Located in the Lost Creek Wilderness area of Colorado, the hike to the summit of 12,431 foot Bison Peak in the Tarryall Mountains was absolutely remarkable. It was really unlike anywhere else that I have been. The scenery is so unique that it almost feels out of place with everything else. With very few people around, the solitude just made me feel at peace.

Here’s some more info about my hike:

  • Date Hiked: June 18th, 2019
  • Miles Hiked: Around 13 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy class 1
  • Total Elevation Change: 3,671 Feet

Getting There

From Denver, take US Highway 285 west over Kenosha Pass until you reach Jefferson, Colorado. Specifically, you will want to take a left onto Park County Road 77 which is also known as Tarryall Road. The Ute Creek Trailhead is on this road on the left once you go just over 3 miles past the Tarryall Reservoir.

The Journey

Although I did not arrive at the trailhead until shortly after 9am, I figured I would be in for an adventure. And I was not disappointed! The first several miles are relatively easy as I first crossed the bridge over the creek and walked through some meadows. But before I did that, I made sure to fill out a free permit before entering the wilderness area.

Overlooking the creek from the bridge by the trailhead.
The steady uphill climb begins!

Once I got several miles up the trail, the weather conditions changed quickly. In a span of about 25 minutes, it went from being sunny to mostly cloudy with a hailstorm looming close by. I wasn’t too scared though as I decided to hide under a rock for a little while until the weather improved.

Can’t believe I really hid under this rock!

At times, this hike really seemed like a struggle. But with every step, the scenery and view of the surrounding valleys and mountains continued to get better! Soon enough, I was able to see areas above treeline too.

A steep portion of the trail.
Caught a glimpse of the area above treeline while still deep in the woods.
Took a right at this sign to continue up the trail.

Before long, I finally found myself above treeline. And the scenery was truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.

Above Treeline

Upon reaching the treeline, I was treated with views of the snow capped peaks of the Mosquito Range directly to the west. In addition to that, it looked as if more storms were forming out there as well.

View of the Mosquito Range.
The amazing scenery coming into view.

After reaching the meadow, the scenery really opens up around you. Even though it was an extremely snowy year, a wide majority of the snow had already melted, except for a three foot snow drift just below the summit that was easily avoidable.

Unique geology with Bison Peak in the distance.
Looking back from further up towards the summit.
Such a cool place!
View from just below the summit.
The view from the summit.

After I made it to the summit, I sat up there for nearly half an hour. It was completely comforting just being out in the wilderness with nobody around you at all. As a matter of fact, I only saw three other people during my entire hike that day.

With another round of afternoon thunderstorms beginning to move in, I figured it was time to get on with it and head back down the mountain. So I signed my name in the journal at the summit and took a picture of the summit marker before calling it good.

A storm moving in while beginning my descent.
A unique viewpoint.
Probably the best picture I took that day.

In all, it took me about six or seven hours to complete this hike. Although it was strenuous, the views and the surrounding landscapes were totally worth it. I would definitely recommend hiking to the summit of Bison Peak to anybody and personally look forward to doing it again sometime.