Friday, September 21, 2012

Mount Spalding and Mount Evans

Summit Lake and Mount Evans

Labor Day Weekend was upon us and we had visitors in town from Idaho.  Kristi’s brother Danny wanted to get out on a hike while they were in Denver, so I thought what better than a hike up a 14er?  Lucky for Danny the town he lives in is around 5,000ft so I didn’t think the elevation would affect him too much.  We packed our bags the night before and set the alarm for a 3:30am wake up. 

The drive up to the Summit Lake TH is an eventful drive on a light, now doing the drive in the dark was a another story.  After leaving the main freeway the road gets somewhat narrow and at times there is a good drop off that will take you quickly down the mountain.  I was surprised we were being tailgated by a small car that was in a hurry to drive to the summit, so I pulled off to let him by.  Needless to say we were both a little on edge till we got to the Summit Lake parking lot.

We got out of the parking lot and finally on our hike just after 5am.  There was one other person in the parking lot getting ready for a hike as well but we never had anyone on our tails for the whole day.  There even a sign on right out of the lot saying this is the Mount Evans-Spalding route, so we knew we were in the right place at least.  We had one headlamp and a flashlight, but didn’t need to use them too long.  The sun was quickly rising to the east, but there was substantial cloud cover in that direction so we didn’t see much of the sun since it was hidden.

The trail was really good and easy to follow.  I have found that is the norm in Colorado, and I like it.  This is a class 2 rating, which I agree with but it is a really easy class 2 hike.  We used our hands one time to scamper up a crack and found we took the extended route as we could see the main trail below the rock.  Once on the ridge it was a nice gentle stroll all the way up to Mount Spalding’s summit.  I was surprised how large the summit was, because from a way off it looks like a rocky knob.  Danny took some great pictures of Evans and Summit Lake and after a short break we were on our way over to Evans.

I would almost call it a maze coming off of Spalding.  It was kind of a free for all on getting down the rock and onto the “plains” in-between the two summits.  Once down to the saddle (of sorts) we regained the large cairned route.  As we took a glance back at Spalding I noticed a Mountain Goat standing in the cliffs.  The good thing is Danny got a chance to see some true wildlife on our hike.  We continued on the cairn route and at times you easily find yourself meandering off route quite a bit.  Lucky for me I had been up Evans from Guanella Pass earlier this summer so I knew where we needed to be.  We saw one guy heading down so he must have been doing the Evans-Sawtooth, but he looked kind of lost to us. 

Mount Evans
There is a point where you top out on a little hump then make your way around to the west of the Evans Ridge.  Once we were there we could see Mount Bierstadt had a few early morning hikers already on the summit.  I showed Danny what the Sawtooth was and as we were talking I spotted another Mountain Goat hanging out in the cracks of the cliffs.  Man, I wish I could move like those guys.  The elevation was starting to get to Danny so we had a nice break and had some food and water.  He was doing well so far, I knew he just needed a quick breather and he would be good to go.

We followed the great route around the ridge and before we knew it we could see cars driving up the Evans Road.  The wind was picking up but the weather was still great.  I handed over my gloves to Danny to fight off the wind chill as we scampered up the last bit to the summit.  It was an early summit, somewhere around 8am.  The summit had crazy windy, but we had it all to ourselves so I didn’t mind it.  The views all around were still pretty clear so I could act like I knew all the mountains for a little bit as I named them off.  We didn’t linger long since the wind was quite chilling.  I had a snickers I was ready to eat but we decided to get down on the other side of the mountain and find a wind break first.

Summit Lake and Mount Spalding
As we crossed the summit parking lot there was only two or three cars.  This was a rare thing, but short lived I’m sure.  The summit road was only open for one more day so I’m sure people would be up here in droves before the end of the day.  We dropped over the other side of the lot and I was thankful there was a good trail in place for the descent.  I wasn’t sure what to expect for a loop, but this seemed to work out pretty good.  This section the rock was loose, but a slow pace was the way to avoid any falls.

There were two or three groups of people heading up and we descended.  This would be a brutal in your face ascent, but I’m sure it goes quickly.  We were halfway down the mountain before we found a good windbreak for a snack.  That snickers was goooood!  We could see the road and knew it wasn’t far so we made our way down slowly but surely.  Once we hit the road is was less than half mile to the parking lot.  The views of Summit Lake with the towering mountains behind were amazing.

It was a great overall morning.  We made it to the car by 9am.  Our goal was a quick trip so we could avoid the holiday traffic back into Denver.  Danny did great hiking his first 13er and his first 14er, and I got lucky because he wanted to go hiking.  This was a great loop and I recommend it for anyone that wants to get a quick hike in.

GPS Track

Date: 9/3/2012
Starting Elevation:  12,850ft 
Mount Evans Summit: 14,264ft
Mount Spalding Summit: 13,842ft
Total Gained Elevation: 2,000ft
Distance: 4.63 miles
Time: 3:12 moving, 51 minutes stopped
Partners: Danny

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