Friday, June 28, 2013

Gray Wolf Mountain and Mount Spalding

On Thursday night I finished one of my summer classes, so what sounded good was a nice hike in the Colorado Mountains.  I wanted to do something that would be short so I offered the idea of Gray Wolf and Spalding to Brian and he was in.  This combo is started from the Summit Lake TH on the Mount Evans Road.  I know the TH is at 12,850ft over 600ft taller than the highest peak in Idaho, but it is a TH so it counts! Hahaha.
We met at 7am and were on the trail climbing a little after 8am.  The parking lot was already full by this time, so you got to get up here early if you don’t want to park on the road.  There is a clear trail leading to the summit of Spalding.  It is a trail, but at times will include a little climbing.  We saw one of the most impressive things ever today as we were coming down.  There was a group of about eight people and one of the individuals was a blind man.  It was amazing watching him work his way up the route.  This is not a cup cake trail, I can’t imagine the guts it would take to do such a thing, and needless to say I was very impressed and happy to see this.
Evans, Spalding, and Bierstadt
After we made it over the last gully and hundred or so feet below Spalding’s summit, we cut cross country on the way to Gray Wolf Mountain.  The walk down wasn’t so bad, mainly on large boulders buried in the grass so nothing was moving around.  When we got into the open space in-between the mountain the mush of recent snow melt was in ample supply.  I just kept moving to get across what seemed miles to the other side at the base of Gray Wolf.  There was only about 100ft up to the summit, but I pulled out a snack and took in the view anyway.  It was a new perspective for me seeing Evans, Spalding and Bierstadt from the North.  I gobbled down a candy bar as it melted in my hand, way to hot outside today then made my way up the last little bit of Gray Wolf.  The summit area was huge and probably doesn’t get too many visitors.  We noticed thunderheads building on the south side of Evans so we didn’t hang out long.  It was around 10am now and thought we should hustle over to Spalding before the afternoon storms came in.
Square Top and Argentine Peak
The way across the swamp to the base of Spalding was much, much quicker, but we also knew we had another 600-800ft to gain to get to the summit.  Brian said it took about an hour for us to descend Gray Wolf, make it across the swamp and start up Spalding.  The area doesn’t look like much, but it is time consuming crossing between the mountains.  Neither of us was looking forward to the next climb which was very direct, so we just took it a chunk at a time.  After loads of sweat and cuss words we made it to the top of Spalding.
It was time to quench my thirst and what better than Gatorade since I left my summit beer at home today.  We took in the views and watched as the nasty weather was making its way north, so after a few minutes we started back down to the car.  With about 1,000ft to descend and probably about a mile, we chose to be lazy and take our time down the mountain.  After the “crossing” as I call it where you have a solid class 3 step from the trail to the ridge we ran into the group of eight people I spoke of earlier.  After watching them go by we hiked down the remainder of the trail to the car.  It was a nice climb, a good intermediate day that isn’t too time consuming.  I would do it again and maybe tack on Evans if the weather conditions were right.  I’m hoping to get out more now that I only have online classes left this summer, so hopefully a few more trip reports will be on the way soon.
GPS Track

Date: 6/28/2013
Starting Elevation: 12,850ft
Gray Wolf Mountain Summit: 13,583ft
Mount Spalding Summit:  13,842ft
Total Gained Elevation: 1,884ft
Distance: 5.15 miles
Time: 3:09 moving, 1:05 stopped. 
Climbing Partner: Brian

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