I’m becoming a creature of habit. Every season I have some big goal toward the end of the summer and then spend a while blissfully relaxing and enjoying my sense of accomplishment. Then, every season, I get antsy for some more mountain time “before summer really ends”. And most years, that last summer trip is an eye-opener and preview of winter to come. This year would prove to be par for the course.
There’s not much to say. I teamed up with Brad and we ran up the well-worn trail toward Meadow Mountain at the extreme north end of the Indian Peaks Wilderness… or is that the extreme southern boundary of RMNP? In any case, I’ve been up here at least four times before in the winter (the skiing is decent), but never in dry conditions. It’s nice. We hiked briskly up toward the saddle and discovered, as usual, that winter is coming and coming fast. Snow drifted here and there to a foot in depth and the wind was a steady 30-35 mph. However, the view was of the usual jaw-dropping, sudden-reveal quality and we stood there for a while, cheeks flapping, eying the white coating covering the higher parts of Wild Basin.
South we turned along a nice bit of runnable trail that straddles the RMNP boundary line before making the steep, off-trail climb up the rounded hump of St. Vrain Mountain. What we thought was wind on the way up turned out to be only a preview of the full deal we encountered on the summit. A few hasty photos were snapped before we began our wind-assisted descent.
According to the maps, there is an old trail which descends the drainage west of the one where we’d ascended which goes through the old Rock Creek ski area west of Allenspark. Try as we might, we couldn’t find any faint trails headed that way. More accurately, there were plenty of alignments which might have been trails, but all too likely would lead to Horrendous Bushwhacking. In the interests of end-of-season mellowness, we retraced our tracks and enjoyed a speedy, extremely technical descent back down the way we’d come up enjoying the last mile of zippy boreal descent quite a lot.
So, a last “summer” mountain run with 9 miles and 1000 meters of gain. Hopefully this will hold me until next May, because it looks like winter is coming fast up there.