At least one more overdue report here as Marni and I pack for Longs Peak in the predawn hours of tomorrow. On our way down to Scott and Melissa's wedding we swung through Leadville to visit Cycles of Life on our way to Chaffee County Road 390. What's there you ask? Well the trailhead to quite a few 14ers! After our success on Yale, Marni was itching to get a few more Sawatch range 14ers done in this perfect summer weather season. We stopped at the Missouri Gulch trailhead, cooked up some pesto ravioli and popped up the switchbacks.
Missouri Mountain, which we're hoping to climb soon, is at the summit of the couloirs that are still present in the far center of the picture.
We hiked up towards our trail split with the Elkhead Pass trail in the early evening hours. There was plenty of time before sunset to find a spot and we didn't have far to go.
Turbo loves to stop and smell the roses, well roll in them anyway. Puppy bliss.
We settled for taking some pictures of this great wildflower season.
The trail was in great shape thanks to the awesome work of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative.
Turbo pretending to be in the sound of puppy music.
There were quite a few big (and loud) groups camping in Missouri Gulch but I found us a nice quiet spot off the trail. It was mostly level ;)
Turbo doesn't really like being in the tent, he prefers to roam the wild searching for things to smell and guarding camp from marmots. We let him chill outside until it got dark and then called him in for bed.
Marni and I entertained ourselves with more mini-card rummy. I spotted her a 175 point lead (NOT on purpose) but managed to score a few big hands and come back for the victory! A little candy snack before bed and plenty of water and we dozed off to sleep at 11, 700 feet.
Motivated to reach La Veta at a decent hour and increase our chances of a double summit, Marni actually wanted to get up early. We awoke before 5am and were rolling by 20 to six, full of muffins and coffee (well me anyway).
Sunrise followed quickly and soon we were hot hiking up the slope. We stripped to more realistic hiking attire, sans puffies and long underwear.
No one was stirring in the tents below and we wondered if we'd be the first summit of the day.
The sun gradually filled the valley with light and all the Sawatch around us began to appear.
Turbo was making quick work of this trail, much better than the loose scree on Yale. "Hurry up slow bi peds, I have quad paws!"
The west slopes of Belford open up to a nice ridge near the top, with nice easy walking to the summit.
Turbo leads the way and just after 7am we were closing in on the top.
Belford Summit! We make zee summit! Turbo's #16 and our #18 in cloudless skies. We were however the 2nd to the top, another early riser caught sunrise on Belford.
We descended after a quick snack towards Oxford.
A steep descent, some easy saddle hiking and another short climb led us to the top of Oxford another 50 minutes later. Harvard, Columbia and dozens of other summits were visable.
Almost to 14er #2 of the day.
Ahhh it's nice to be up high.
Another self timer shot brings us to Turbo's #17 and our #19 on Oxford. We're almost 1/3 of the way through the list and I'm excited for the ones that remain.
After topping out on Oxford we still had to return over Belford or Elkhead Pass to return to our tent. We decided to return back over Belford and headed down the switchbacks a ways before stopping for some lunch. Turbo was quite pleased with turkey and cheese sandwich plus 2 summit bones and an ABCB (advanced base camp bone).
A few more switchbacks brought us back to our tent. The clouds were moving in quickly now despite it being not even noon so we packed up quickly and hussled down the trail to the E. A quick stop at K's in Buena Vista for some burgers, cheese fries and ice cream and we headed off towards La Veta.