Today we did one of my favourite kinds of hikes, an alpine meadow surrounded by mountains.
Today also marks day 650 in the RV. Wow. I missed 600 and we won’t make it to 700 this year so I thought that 650 was a good landmark.
We first drove down to Buena Vista and then turned west onto the Cottonwood Pass Road for the 20 miles drive to the top.
Once we reached the base of the mountains it was a steep climb from Buena Vista’s 8300 foot elevation to 12,100 at the top of the pass. It is an easy climb as the road is paved to the top.
Most of it was up through the forest with not much to see.
We got a few peeks.
And then out of the tree lines for a final switchback to the top.
From the top, the road turns to very well maintained dirt and goes down to join up with the road to Taylor Reservoir that we had taken on our way to Tincup when we were in Gunnison.
From the parking lot we got the top view of the mountains that were in the background of our Taylor Reservoir pictures.
The road certainly winds its way down.
The parking lot was pretty full. This picture is from later in the day but it was close to this when we arrived.
The Skyline Trail is a very short section of the Colorado Trail, which runs 500 miles from Durango to Denver, a lot of it along the Continental Divide.
The Colorado Trail heads north from the parking lot. A lot of people were doing this hike.
Our hike headed south and was a short 0.8 mile (just over a 1 km) each way climb to the top of the nearest peak.
We went from around 12,100 feet to about 12,600 feet at the top of the peak to the right in the picture below.
We were both huffing and puffing on the way up so we had lots of stops. The altitude really seemed to affect Jennie. She could just not catch her breath but she pushed on.
Still some snow to go around or through.
Looking back down to the parking lot.
This snow we had to go over and of course my foot sank down a bit too far.
At one switchback corner I spotted a Ptarmigan.
They blend really well with the rocks and and you can only see them when they move.
And we made it.
The view to the southeast.
The view to the west, with Taylor Reservoir.
I went out to the point.
Looking back at Jennie.
Here is my view as a tiny panorama. Click on the picture to go to the website that will give you the large view.
We sat and had an early lunch.
A group of hikers came by that were doing a 17 day trip south on the trail.
I watched them head off.
I felt pretty good and wanted to go a bit farther. Jennie decided to stay and explore for a while and then head back to the car.
I thought I would follow the trail down to the lowest spot between us and the next peak and then decide what to do.
Looking back towards Jennie, before she left.
Distances are very deceiving with no landmarks.
At the low point I had a great view east.
Should I go back?
Or a bit farther?
I spotted the hikers up on the ridge ahead of me.
I still felt pretty good (mostly because it had been all downhill since I left Jennie) so I decided I would try and make it up to that spot to check out the view west.
A lot more huffing and puffing.
Working my way up the ridge.
I always use flowers along the way as an excuse for a rest.
Made it to the top.
You can see the road to Tincup heading from the reservoir down the valley to the south.
The hikers had just left when I got there.
I looked at the GPS to see what my path had been. It had been just over 1 km to the first peak but I was now 4 km from the car. Also the dip between the peaks had been almost the equivalent elevation change as going back down to the car.
The blue line is my path. The yellow triangle is where the car was. The red line is the continental divide.
And the elevation profile for the trip out to the ridge.
While I had been hiking Jennie had been picture taking.
A family playing in the snow by the parking lot.
Time for me to head back.
Not a good sign. The afternoon dark clouds were moving in.
And it was raining down in the valley.
The sky overhead was still clear and the wind seemed to be pushing the dark clouds away from me. Also I didn’t see any lightning but I was still worried. I would definitely be the tallest thing around, hiking back through the meadow.
Still pretty dark over the first peak as I got close.
As I got back to the top there was a family that had just come up.. We all decided that it would be a good idea to get the heck out of Dodge.
Just after we headed down it started raining / snowing. Not enough to soak you but I put my rain jacket on and felt much warmer.
The end is in sight.
Heading up the trail were a large group of young people, all with shovels.
They said that they were camping in town and to get free campsites they were required to do some trail maintenance. So they were digging out all the snowbanks.
Once I got back to the car, Jennie was still not feeling great so we made a quick exit to lower elevations and she felt much better.