Monday, July 19, 2010

"Old Baldy" Pt. 13038 IPW

"Old Baldy" Pt. 13038
Indian Peaks Wilderness
~7.75 miles RT, ~4.5 hours

With predicted high temps in the 100s, there was no doubt on where to go: above treeline. However, we also an appointment in Denver mid-afternoon. Working backward from that, visiting Indian Peaks wilderness seemed like a good choice. Then, I decided to check out the 4th of July TH, since we've never been there and it's free; and the plan was to hike the Arapahoe Glacier trail to the saddle between "Old Baldy" and S. Arapahoe, then picking a mountain based on time and desire.

We left Fort Collins at 5am on Saturday, and got to the TH at 6:45. Some cars there already, but it's a campground, and wasn't too bad. We ran into 3 people in the first half mile, we passed 2 of them and the solo guy passed us; after that, we had the trail to ourselves.

Wildflowers of all colours were on display:

We passed alternated between dense forest canopy, stream and waterfall crossings, thick wildflowers, and amazing views.

A tall waterfall roared in the distance. At 2 miles, we hit the Arapahoe Pass junction, and the old 4th of July mine, which was a buried pit and some old equipment.

We took the right turn to switchback up toward the saddle. The trail was nice and well-maintained. Finally, at the saddle, we were able to peer down at Arapahoe Glacier, as well as getting great views of the Arapahoe traverse. S. Arapahoe by itself looked like ~45 minutes of steady scrambling (shown behind me in this picture), truly a legitimate and worthy mountain, but we did the gentle x-country walkup to "Old Baldy" instead.

And while we saw a few folks heading up S. Arapahoe, we had "Old Baldy" to ourselves. We laid down in the sunshine for a 20 minute nap or so, though I'd sit up every few minutes and look around at the amazing views.

Time to head down, where we saw ~40-50 people coming up, along the lines of what I expected in a popular area.

Now, back at the car just before noon, we reached the crux of the route: navigating through a cluster of traffic. I wiggled my way out of the parking lot while some guy waited for my spot, waited a couple minutes for a cop and another guy to finish a conversation through their car windows, then headed down the road clogged with park cars to the Hessie TH. There, traffic was backed up, while an old woman "took charge" by demanding everyone back up the hill so she could get through. To make it worse, one of the SUVs was driven by a tentative young woman who couldn't back up her car to save her life. (Literally -- these are the folks that swing a sickle six inches from my shoulder unaware when I'm on my bike. Oy.)

To the rescue? Scott and Anton! No, literally, these guys helped direct the girl's car so she could back up. I saw them on the way past, and when I was waiting, said "Hello" -- both were incredibly personable and friendly, and were equally perplexed about all the traffic in the mountains. (Coincidentally, someone on posted a comment on the traffic/parking on that day as well, so something unusual must have been up?) It was nice meeting them briefly, sounds like they had a nice run as well.

Generally a great, moderate hike, with awesome views, wildflowers, waterfalls, mountains, and glaciers. I can see a future trip involving the Arapahoe Traverse, as well as popping over Arapahoe Pass.

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