Sunday, April 28, 2013

Midland Hill Anniversary Hike

Shavano, Tabegauche, Antero all 14ers

In celebration of our 8th anniversary Kristi and I decided to make a weekend trip to Buena Vista, Colorado.  The locals just refer to Buena Vista as BV so I will do the same.  BV is about a 2.5 hour drive from Denver, and it is a place Kristi had not previously been.  I have been over there twice while climbing Mount Princeton and Mount Yale.  We found a couple breweries to check out and made plans for a Saturday and Sunday in the BV area.
When we first arrived we pulled off of HWY 24 into a viewing location; I posted many of these pictures on FB, so a lot of these from the trip report will be re-runs.  While we were at the view point we found out some info on hiking and I decided Midland Hill would make for a nice morning hike for the next day. 
Somehow I had convinced Kristi to go on this hike.  I was glad but knew it would be tough for her since the vertical gain of 1,600ft was so high.  It was going to be a challenge but I was just happy to get her out hiking with me.
We checked out of the hotel around 9ish and made our way to the Arkansas River where the trail started.  This was a really neat area, most likely dominated by rafters, kayakers and fisherman when the seasons are right.  There are a slew of trails and I didn’t have a good idea of the most direct trail so we just started heading up.
Mount Yale
The trail was well maintained so it made a good day for using my new trail runners.  I’d have to say they worked great; it’s nice not having those big heavy boots on my feet.  We soon found out the trail I selected was not the best of choices since it took us to the north.  After about 300ft of gain we hit a county road and had to make our way south on it to connect with trial 6032.  Not that big of a deal but it probably added a quarter mile to half mile to the overall mileage.
Me Enjoying the View
After crossing the county road the trail gets pretty vertical.  Midland Hill looms just above you for quite a while.  The switchbacks make quick work of the elevation and Kristi didn’t care for them too much.  We made our way up slowly, which gave me a good chance to take in the sights of the huge mountains all around us.  As we got near the saddle Kristi decided to stay there while I ran up to the summit.  And I actually did run, so I got in a hell of a trail run in today as well.
From the saddle I made the summit in 5-10minutes.  The view was one of the best I’ve had yet in Colorado.  There was a tall flag staff on the top, so I had to take a few pictures of it with the 14ers looming behind.  I made it a quick stop, just a minute or two then made my trail run back down to where Kristi was waiting.
As I sat and enjoyed my post-summit beer a couple other hikers made their way by.  Up till now those were the first people we ran into today.  This was a nice change from the crowds we get around Denver.  We made a slow descent with the slippery pebbles from the sand stone rocks, but made good time overall.
It was a fun trip for me, a harder trip for Kristi.  I was pleased to see her out of her comfort zone and look forward to getting her up on more mountains with me as we keep exploring Colorado together.
GPS Track
Date: 4/28/2013
Starting Elevation:  7,920ft 
Midland Hill Summit: 9,556ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,636ft
Distance: 5.20 miles
Time: 2:33 moving, 1:01 stopped
Partners: Kristi

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Berrian Mountain

Berrian Mountain

I’m trying to get back into the mountains at least once a week during my last month of school.  Brian found a mountain close to home we could hike that wouldn’t be an all day expedition, so we set on Berrian Mountain for Friday.
Berrian is a low lying summit at 9,147ft.  This is the looming mountain over the town of Aspen Park off of Highway 285.  Meyer Ranch where one of my favorite close to town hikes of Legault Mountain is across the road, so this is an area we were both familiar with.  The only issue around here is, so much of the land is private and you have to be careful where you tramp.
Brian did the research for the hike while I was in school this week and found a few trip reports, but they weren’t as detailed as we would have liked to see.  The hardest part was for us to find out where the TH was.  Berrian is partially in one of the Denver Mountain Parks, but this park was surrounded by private land.  I tried finding some info out online on the Denver Mountain Park website, but they did not even recognize this park as one in their system.  We decided to meet at the Meyer Ranch parking lot and go from there on Friday.
TH off of Armadillo Trail Rd
Our first attempt driving up Eagle Cliff Rd., turned out to be a private road so we made our way around to the west side off of County Road 73 that put us onto Armadillo Trail Rd.  My GPS showed a parking spot along the road so we followed till we arrived to the roughly two car pull out along the road.  I wasn’t sure this was it, so I walked across the street and saw what appeared to be an open trail with some DMP signs tacked onto a few trees.  This must be the TH we decided, so we put our packs on and hit the trail.
This area is heavily forested and there had recently been a trail crew to the area to clear all the fallen trees.  If I had a wood burning fire place I would have thought about sneaking off with a few logs.  The trail was easy to follow as it cuts along the side of some huge rock cliffs.  The trail was partially covered in snow in the lower reaches and we were wishing we packed our micro spikes so we wouldn’t slip around too much.  There was even a light snow, but I knew it shouldn’t take us much more than an hour to summit so I didn’t think too much of it.
We approached an area just past a large meadow were the snow was thicker and there was a convergence of at least two trails.  We didn’t notice it on the ascent, but one trail the trees have a red paint and the other the trees have a blue paint.  We stayed on the trail leading to the South around the mountain and soon realized this was an “around the mountain” trail and not a summit trail.  The bushwhacking begun as we made some direct lines towards the main NW ridge.  We hit the trail again at least once where there must have been a switch back.  After about 50ft of hiking down this Brian chose the direct route again.
Me and my Summit Beer
We made our way to the ridge line, which is hard to tell in the thickness of the trees.  I knew there was a rock opening based on my TOPO map, and I could see this through the trees so we made our way there.  There was some fun short class 3 rock to climb up and over, but all could be avoided as we found on our way down.  Once on top of the large rock outcroppings we dropped about 50ft to where the normal trail comes up and made our way along to the forested ridge to the summit.  The summit was socked in the trees which was a little disappointing, but not all mountains have great views in all directions.
I brought up a Ninkasi Tricerahops, so we had a nice drink with our trail mix and Scooby snacks.  I attempted to find a few geocaches, but gave up figuring they were buried in the snow.  We hung out up there for quite a while since the sun was out and there was hardly any wind to bother us.  As we started descending we made our way back to where the large rocks were and found the trail heading around the NW.  The trail was slick with no traction; there was a nice ice layer just below the soft slush surface.  For the most part we were able to follow trail on the way down and found out where it crossed with our previous boot prints down low near the meadow area.
This is a nice and easy graded hike.  In the summer time I would like to come back so I can follow the “true trail” and see how this park is really laid out, since nothing is published about it.  When I come back I would probably call the rock outcroppings the summit, since it’s the only place with a full view of the Evans group.  I didn’t get any pictures of the mountains, so I guess you will have to go see for yourself.

GPS Track

Date: 4/13/2013
Starting Elevation:  8,200ft 
Berrian Mountain Summit: 9,147ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,172ft
Distance: 4.08 miles
Time: 2:07 moving, 1:10 stopped
Partners: Brian