or Not to Casco…Lazy Mountain Dayz

Sometimes you get all the way up to a basin and just decide you’d rather nap on the grass than climb the peak. It’s a rare day, but they exist.

Greg, myself and our dog Jessie decided to attempt to climb Casco Peak, so we spend the night at the trailhead in our truck, and head up the trail early.

First- we were lazy and took a while to wake up, then we were moving slow….and finally, once we had reached the basin below Casco…we both felt like sleeping in the grass. I didn’t have the drive to summit that day, I was just happy to be up in the high country- with the flowers. So we napped in the grass on the side of the trail with the dog.

Here are a few photos.

Casco from our Nap spot.
Such a happy pup.
backside view of Mount Elbert.

Back on Rock

Since I chopped my hand open back in May, I have not been back on rock….this was my first time back. I followed a few routes in Solaris area of Boulder Canyon- and wanted to share a few photos.


Dan leading up.
Not sure what kind of move that is, but Greg is sure pulling it off?
Extreme belaying?

Sunrise summit- Oxford/Belford

I decided I wanted to do a sunrise summit of Oxford and Belford- with the Trailblazers. We ended up with a small group, but a good group!

The basin that these peaks are in, is notoriously steep- then it flattens to a beautiful open meadow, with 3 of the Sawatch 14ers right there-  Belford, Oxford, and Missouri.

We hiked up the steep switchbacks on Saturday afternoon, and found a place to camp right before the sky got dark. The group sat down, ate dinner, and drank some wine. It was a great way to relax before bed.

We woke at 2AM and began our slog up through the basin, and the switchbacks to the summit of Mount Belford…arriving at the summit right before sunrise.

Summit of Mount Belford 14,197′
Mount Oxford from Mount Belford

We had a snack, and waited for the sun to rise, then made our way down to the saddle between the two peaks.  It was gravely, and loose- so it would suck going back up later.

View from the saddle

I made my way to the summit, far behind everyone else, nursing some more foot issues/ knee issues- acquired from my cross country peak adventures.

Mount Oxford 14,153′

We relaxed on the summit- then made our way BACK up to the summit of Mount Belford- then decided rather than deal with the switchbacks again, we would descend via Elkhorn Pass.

Left to right- Emerald, Iowa, Missouri

We made our way down to camp, and packed up after a short break, then walked back down to the cars.

I have learned to love sunrise summits, despite the early hour one must get up in order to achieve them- it was truly beautiful

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge- and HOME

We finished Wheeler this morning, and headed home through the back roads of northern New Mexico. I wanted to show a few photos of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, seeing as it was the only stop we made.

Perfectly placed. 

It was beautiful- then we FINALLY were back in Colorado.

We still had quite a long drive, but it was least through well known terrain. There was SOME excitement when we were driving past our exit on C-470…something had lit the side of the highway on fire. We have had a lot of fires this year- and luckily this one was not lit by a person. I found out later that it was lit by a piece of trash flying out of a trash truck…and hitting the electrical wire- not even a joke.

It was amazing to get picked up by my human, and go home. I had missed him very much over the last week and some change.

When you go on a long trip, it’s always very nice going home. That being said- it was an adventure- not everything went exactly as planned- but I learned a lot about other parts of the county, and got to spend time with an awesome lady!

AND now- I eat, sleep, and shower.

Taos, Wheeler Peak, and Mount Walter, NM

Our initial plan was to get up at 5AM, and head for the summit- then hang around Taos for the rest of the day….we slept until 8:30AM. Rather than try to summit, we decided we’d wander around Taos- being tourists, then do a sunrise summit the next morning.

View from the Alley- Good food. Good Margaritas.

We got up around 2:30AM- and climbed back into the car and made our way up to the trailhead. We got a slightly later start than we had intended- but after finally finding the correct trail- we motored up the hill.

It was a beautiful sunrise, we also got to watch a crew of male bighorn sheep 1,000′ below us literally butting heads.

From the saddle looking towards the summit!

We were the first people on the summit- which was amazing– consider we counted about 50 or so people heading up as we were coming down.

Only Indian Paintbrushes I’ve seen like this!

Because were doing a sunrise summit we had expected it to be colder, but MAN was it windy!!!

Sarah heading towards the saddle. 

Once we hit the saddle, we decided– EHHH why not also get Mt. Walter as well- it is the second highest!

Looking at Wheeler. 

On our way down, we were fortunate enough to get better pictures of the Bighorns- though they were not butting heads anymore- they were still there!.

These were our final peaks on our trip- and it was time to head home. I must say I enjoyed everywhere we visited…but the Wind Rivers stole my heart right away. On this we both agreed.

Humphreys Peak, AZ

Due to being stuck in Lone Pine an extra day and a half- we has to skip Joshua Tree National Park, and drive directly to Flagstaff– this was about a 8-10 hr drive through the Mojave Desert. We finally hit Arizona around 6 or 7PM.

As the sun started to go down- we pulled of the highway to make dinner for the road– then continued on till we arrived in Flagstaff and our Trailhead.

We pulled up and saw 4 bright eyes, staring at us…took a few minutes to realize they were cows.

The next morning we woke up around 6:30, and made our way up to the Arizona Snowbowl trailhead. Now this was my first time in Arizona- and I had been expecting crazy red rocks, wild cactus…only to find out that near Flagstaff…it looked a lot like Colorado, maybe a bit more jungly.

We began our hike in the chill morning air- just slowly making our way up the beautiful wooded trail.


The trail was beautiful, with lots of trees, wildflowers, and other foliage- it slowly climbed up to a saddle between the San Francisco Range Mountains.


First Glimpse of Humphreys Peak

We made our way up the steep trail, making sure to follow the posts put in place so people don’t get lost.

The rock quality reminded me of the igneous rock we had seen at Fossil Falls, only it was red, brown, black, and many other colors. It had also gotten a bit breezier- but it was still beautiful weather.

Courtesy of Sarah Engel

We snacked for a while then made our way back down to the saddle…and down the trail…where we decided to walk down the road below the chair lifts…much quicker.


View from the summit
Looking across the way at Mount Agassiz

Once back at the car, we decided to eat and go to Mother Road Brewing- on the way down, asked folk who live there where to go, and this was suggested- it was amazing.

Courtesy of Sarah Engel

The beer was fantastic, AND we even got a show from the Fire Dept. Someone set the dumpster on fire, so we go to watch them put it out- it was an adventure!

I would absolutely love to go back to that area, and climb the full San Francisco Ridge Traverse, but that would be with more time– and not in a rush.

Near Gallup, NM. Courtesy of Sarah Engel

We finished or beers and got back on the road- heading towards Taos New Mexico…we arrived at the time share Sarah’s mom booked us at 11:50 PM. We were tired. It was late…needless to say we never woke up for our alarm.

Fossil Falls, CA

So after Sarah and I FINALLY escaped from Lone Pine, we stopped at Fossil Falls for a short break- it was about 112 degrees- so it was very short. But I wanted to share photos of this really cool geologic feature!

Also, here is the BLM write up for the Fossil Falls– taken directly from their website.

“Fossil Falls

AREA DESCRIPTION: Fed by the rains and snows of the last Ice Age, the Owens River once flowed from Owens lake down through this narrow valley between the Coso and Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges. Several times during the last 100,000 years, the discharge from the Owens river has been great enough to form a vast interconnected system of lakes in what are now the arid basins of the Mojave Desert. The rugged and primitive features of Fossil Falls are the produce of volcanic activity. As recent as 20,000 years ago, lava from the local volcanic eruptions poured into the Owens River channel. The erosional forces of the Owens River acted upon this volcanic rock, forming the polished and sculptured features that now can be seen at Fossil Falls.

The red cinder cone visible to the north is the result of the violent ejection of trapped gases and molten material into the air from vent in the earth’s crust. Cooling quickly when exposed to the air, the molten material formed a porous rock known as scoria, which built up around the original vent forming a cone-shaped hill.

EARLY CULTURE: Some 10,000 to 20,000 years ago, the first human beings camped along the ancient rivers and lakes of the Mojave Desert. These prehistoric people harvested lakeshore resources and hunted large animals. By 6000 B.C., extreme aridity caused the last of these ancient rivers and lakes (including the Owens River) to disappear. The grasslands, marshes, and large mammals that had once flanked these lakes vanished. Prehistoric human populations may have partially abandoned low-lying desert areas in search of food and water in upland mountains areas.

WAY OF LIFE: Around 4000 BC, climatic conditions again shifted from the extreme aridity of the preceding period to the relatively moderate conditions that exist today. A cultural pattern was established that emphasized the use of a wide variety of desert plant foods that included both small and large mammals, reptiles, insects and waterfowl as well.

With only slight adjustments such as the additions of pottery and the bow and arrow, this way of life was still being practiced by the Little Lake Shoshone Indians at the time of the first European explorations of the Mojave Desert. Many of the archaeological sites at Fossil Falls are dated between 4000 BC and European contact in the 19th century.

ADAPTING: Most of the archaeological materials found in the Fossil Falls vicinity, which is managed by the Bureau of Land Management, reflect this unique cultural adaptation to the desert environment.

The rock-ring features directly adjacent to Fossil Falls supported conical brush or tule structure that served as shelter for only few weeks or month of the year. As mentioned previously, the need for mobility as various plant foods ripened at different localities made permanent structures unnecessary.

A number of rocks and boulders possess smooth basins on their upper surface. These rocks are called metates and were used for plant processing: hard desert seeds were placed on the metate surface and ground with a handheld cobble called a miano. Over time, this grinding motion produced the characteristic smooth concave surface of the metate.

The surrounding desert also contained the raw materials for a simple hunter-gatherer technology. The black scar seen on the dome-shaped hill to the east is a mile-long seam of volcanic glass, obsidian. Obsidian was used almost exclusively in the manufacture of stone tools such as projectile points, knives, and scrapers. The large scatters of obsidian waste flakes seen in the Fossil Falls vicinity are the byproducts of stone tool manufacture.”