Ever since I got home from the Tour Divide, Marni and I have been plotting our first 14er trip of the summer. We hemmed and hawed over all our "options" and decided to start out with Mt. Yale. Since all 14ers get a funny name associated with one of Turbo's favorite things, Yale became Mt. Giant Flying Bunny aka Turkey :) We initially planned to head up last week but my body was still just a bit too tired so we postponed a week. All of a sudden the end of this week got filled up with obligations so on Tuesday afternoon we packed up our gear and headed out for a quick 24 hour trip. Three hours in the car brought us to the Avalanche Gulch trailhead on the Colorado Trail for our alternate route up Mt. Yale, the East Ridge.
I whipped up a quick parking lot dinner of spaghetti and meatballs and we were off at 6pm to hike up and find a nice campsite for the evening.
Marni headed through the woods below the first mile of monster switchbacks.
There were lots of awesome wildflowers everywhere. This year's extra rain really has the flowers going strong!
Chinese Turbo says "hike faster humans!"
Marni and I making our way up the CT with full bellies.
By 7:45pm we'd reached just under 12,000 feet and the point where our route deviates from the Colorado Trail to ascend Yale's East Ridge. We split up the tasks, dumped the packs and by 8pm we were settled into camp for the evening.
Ahhhh the Colorado Trail. My heart warms to see these trail markers now but since this section was in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness (no bikes), it was a new section for me.
We watched the sunset over Mt. Princeton from our sleeping bags, hidden away in our Firstlight from the pesky mosquitoes who were trying to make the best of a warm evening at timberline.
Since it was still pretty early we played some rummy with our mini cards (weight weenie I know) and ate some delicious candy. Yes I'm still weening myself off Reese's Peanut Butter cups after the Tour Divide.
We lured Turbo into the tent at dark and went to sleep. I was plotting an early wake up to make sure we'd be back in Denver well before an appointment. I was up before the alarm, letting Turbo out to investigate the campsite once more and retrieving our breakfast muffins from the bear bag.
"Umm guys, if you're not going to give me any more muffin, let's get going..."
We donned our shoes, Marni's first hike in her new Exum Ridges, and hit the trail by 6:30am. We already had 2,600 feet down so only 2,400 feet or so to go. How bad could that be?
It started out not very bad at all. The route wound over a bunch of nice little grassy meadows with a decent trail between them through the rocky parts.
Besides, nothing seems too bad when you get a nice sunrise with your sweetie!
The summit...somewhere up there.
Turbo was high energy at first, running all over in his booties.
There were scattered clouds all around and even some rain but no storms and the rain never touched us on Mt.Yale despite getting most of the rest of the central Sawatch range.
Unfortunately these nice gentle grassy slopes had to end and up we went...
...into this. Turbo did pretty well on the way up. I had to take his booties off so he could use his cramp-paws in the really loose scree but he only needed a little assistance on the steepest rocks.
He was thirsty though! Lots of work for all of us between 12,400 ft and 13,400 ft.
Once we got through the worst of the steeps we found some snow patches to Turbo's delight. He runs right to any snow and rolls all around in it.
By a little after 9am we were up on the summit. Turbo was ready for his summit treat and also shared some of my turkey and cheese sandwich. We took a few pictures, chatted with a few other summiters and then, nervous about the still lingering clouds and the loose descent we headed off to find our camp.
Turbo playing in more snow. Snow is awesome!
Beginning our descent.
I found a better way down than our way up but it was still loose with everything from steep scree to big loose talus. Turbo got nervous in a few sections and seeing rain still coming our way I decided just to carry him over the worst parts really quick. Luckily he trusts me!
After a slow hike back to 12,400 ft we hit a great trail again and made camp shortly there after. Turbo had some more water from some snow I melted and I accidentally gave him the rest of Marni and my water too! Oh well, at least the car wasn't too far away. This route was surprisingly dry except for the small snow fields so remember to pack a lot.
We got back to the car just after 1pm, hit K's in Buena Vista for burgers and shakes and jumped on 285 back to the house. Turbo was so tired he wanted to eat his dinner lying down! I guess a 5,000 foot descent is what it finally takes to wear him out.
A really fun and successful 14er #17 for Marni and me and #15 for Turbo. Next up on our 14ers list seems to be Missouri Mountain and more camping!