Monday, April 02, 2007

Mays Peak

29 March, 2007: After considering it literally for years, I finally set out to bag Mays Peak (8,283 ft.). It sits just behind the first ridge of the Front Range, at 38°47’4.7’’N, 104°53’46.3’’W, just to the east of Mt. Buckhorn. Together with Buddy the dog, I started out at the Gold Camp Road parking lot trailhead (the starting point for so many little nearby excursions!), and followed the narrow dirt road known as High Drive--still closed to cars this time of year--east and then north, up to the saddle between Buckhorn and Mays.
Snow was forecast for later in the day, so I tried to maintain a good speed, hoping to catch the last of the clear weather. Clouds were already rolling in, blocking most direct sunshine, but the snow hadn’t showed up yet.
Upon reaching the saddle, I saw a clear trail heading east up Mays’ slopes. As it turns out, the trail goes first to the right (south), and then turns consistently to the left, corkscrewing nearly all the way around the mountain as it climbs the 500 feet or so to the summit. Still, it is a good trail, easy both to follow and to run, so I stayed with it. Finally, on the north slopes of the mountain, the corkscrewing stops, and the trail makes a final, steep run for the summit. I took only barely half an hour to get there.
I snapped a few pictures, but these didn’t include one of myself, as I found no convenient rock or other platform on which to place the camera. The summit area is fairly flat, and shows clear evidence of earlier camping in the relatively open space amid the trees.
Coming back down to the saddle, I looked across the small valley to Buckhorn. I had to decide whether to take the long but gently sloped trail (which I had taken two weeks earlier in the conquest of Buckhorn’s summit block) which angles south to gain the ridge crest, or to try a shorter, but much steeper, direct ascent up the northeast side of the mountain. I had just about made up my mind to take the trail, when I found what looked like a decent use trail heading directly for the summit from the saddle! I decided to take and try something new.
I’m glad I did. The climb was, indeed, steep, but I actually only had to use my hands in a couple of places. Very little clambering over rocks was actually necessary (although boulders abound), and the ground is not mainly loose rock and scree, so traction was quite good.
In less than ten minutes, I reached the summit block.
By this time, however, snow had begun to fall in earnest. I took the fastest way down, south along the ridge, and then leaving the main trail a little way below for the straight shot down the gully to the parking lot. By the time I had driven back out of the cañon, I was out from under the cloud cover; despite the forecast, no snow ever fell down in town!
The pictures can be found at:


or (new!)

Long life and many peaks.


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