Monday, August 17, 2009

DP with BFM

Sun, 9-Aug
Diamond Peaks (South Diamond)
with Jessica
~3.5miles RT
~3 hours (including summit goofing off and bushwacking)

We got a late (8AM) start, but it was nice out and I wanted to get above treeline. So, we took a leisurely ride to Cameron Pass. Diamond Peaks are well known for fantastic backcountry skiing, but not as popular for hiking. It's a shame, but it also meant we'd get a quiet hike.

Our original plan was to hike up to Montgomery Pass, follow the ridge to the Diamond, descend the DP trail to CP and return via the Cameron Connector trail. Once we arrived at the Montgomery/Joe Wright trailhead, though, the fierce North wind made me decide that having the wind to our back on the ridge would be a better bet. Still, this was a good spot for a potty break and a moose sighting!

We continued up to the Cameron Pass lot and started up. The summer trail is barely defined, but essentially follows a small gully straight up. It's not much more than a mile to the top, and, if motivated, someone could get up there in 20-some minutes.
This means it's steep, but also has a quick payoff for the effort, with gorgeous views all around. We followed a faint trail to the saddle between the 2 peaks, then traversed along the leeward side until the windy, cairn-marked summit:

On the summit, we had expansive views in either direction.
Feeling confident at a shorter hike in a familiar area, on a bluebird day, we relaxed by ourselves and enjoyed lunch and beverages.

Amazingly, descending 20 feet or so put us out of the wind into a completely calm summer day. I was also intrigued by the long obvious ridge stretching out parallel to the Poudre, and we enjoyed spotting Clark Peak as the highest along the ridge, having done that together from Blue Lake last month. We proceeded along the ridge, then decided to cut down below a snowfield along a trail, looking for passage into the woods. Suddenly, I saw motion, as a BFM trotted within 15 yards of us, directly across the most obvious trail along the top of the forest! It was neat seeing them earlier from a distance, but not by ourselves in the middle of the woods. Luckily, he was completely disinterested in us and kept moving. But, that meant we had to backtrack or head straight downhill. We decided to bushwhack straight into the woods, giving enough space between us and the BFM, before proceeding back along the contour of ridge. I knew there were a few intermittent stream crossings, and once we found one, it was easy to follow it all the way down. We found the blaze of the Cameron Connector, and followed it most of the way back, skirting a few swampy meadow areas. There was still an impressive wildflower display near the river, though clearly the peak had passed.

All in all, a good time was had by all.
DP is on the list for quick access to tundra, solitude, wildflowers, and meese sighting.

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