Monday, October 29, 2007

Unnamed Point 10,245B

28 October, 2007: With the prospects of available time for the next two weekends looking rather bleak (and the weather almost certain to become worse), I decided that I had to get some kind of a climb in this weekend. I chose Sunday because the weather forecast looked better, and sat down to choose a target.
A little checking showed that the highest ranked peak in El Paso County which I had left to climb was this unnamed, but ranked (2160) peak on the Pikes Peak massif. It’s only a short distance (perhaps half a mile) from the well-traveled Barr Trail, making getting to the immediate vicinity super easy. I figured I could easily handle a little bushwhacking, especially since it only requires a climb of about 500 feet after leaving the trail.
So I got up only a little earlier than I normally would have for a Sunday, and got myself over to the trailhead in Manitou Springs in time to start hiking right at sunrise. The parking lot certainly wasn’t empty, but one of the nice things about October is that it wasn’t jammed full, either. I was warmly dressed against the early morning chill, but I carried my usual daypack, mostly for the purpose of giving myself somewhere to stow all the clothing I was sure to shed later on. In fact, I got rid of my fleece jacket after only about 15 minutes, puffing up those initial switchbacks.
The Barr Trail is pretty well documented, so there’s little need to say much about trudging up it. Suffice it to say that I traveled roughly the first six miles of the trail, to a little-used trail which cuts across it at about 9,800 ft. This point is about half a mile short of the Barr Camp. I had thought it might be hard to find, but I was wrong. Just after getting out my GPS unit to check the altitude, I discovered that not only could I clearly see the trail I was seeking, there was one of the Forest Service’s large metal trail signs right at that point announcing, among other things, the altitude! A quick look around the relatively open terrain confirmed that this must be the place. I had made the six miles, and roughly 3,200 feet of elevation gain, to that point in exactly two hours, which seemed fairly respectable to me. I think getting a really good night’s sleep had helped a lot.
Heading north, the trail actually first drops slightly, curving to the west into a shallow drainage. After a couple hundred yards, it crosses the small creek. I could have jumped it if necessary, but logs made it a dry step-across. The map shows this trail, together with others to which it links, basically ringing the summit I was seeking, so shortly after the creek crossing, I set off northward again, on the final, bushwhacking portion of the trip.
After going over a gentle rise, I descended again, this time into a much broader drainage (the south fork of French Creek), where the water was not contained within neat banks. This flat area is clearly a messy bog at times of high water flow. At this time of year, however, the amount of water was minimal, and the abundant grass which the summer’s water had nourished was heaped in dried tussocks which made it easy to cross. This area also provided me with the best overall view of my target summit to be had.
Once across, I re-entered the trees, and made my way northeast up a shallow draw to gain the gently sloping summit ridge. I crested it northwest of the first major ridge point, and turned left to traverse (or bypass) a couple of others. Although I had brought gaiters, I had encountered only tiny patches of snow, and it was now clear that I would not need them. As I had done on Cheyenne Mountain, in fact, I deliberately stepped in most of the snow I could find, so as to leave visible tracks to aid my return.
One rock outcropping which looked promising still turned out not to be the actual summit, but the one after it was. I actually used my hands a bit here, although selecting a slightly different route would probably have made this unnecessary. This is definitely a Class 2 summit, nothing worse (and only the steepness keeps the first six miles from being rated Class 1!).
Forty minutes after leaving the main trail, at 9 am, I walked up onto the slabs of the summit. As I approached, I saw the small pile of rocks clearly meant as a summit cairn. Coming around to the other (west) side of the cairn, I verified that, just as my friend Kevin had reported, it contained a small jar with a summit register. Upon extracting it, I discovered to my delight that it held only four names covering roughly a year and a half since Mike Garratt had placed it. The sun broke from the clouds just as I reached the top, but the breeze came up, so at this point I put my fleece back on. I spent about half an hour on the summit, mostly trying to warm my camera and its batteries up enough to get some pictures. Unfortunately, I could only coax it to give me one, and I couldn’t capture the unusual view of Pikes Peak (just a couple of miles away), or of the register. (On the way down, I did get a shot of Pikes from just below the summit, but it was through the trees.) Suzanne had had me take her cell phone, and I tried to call her from the summit, but couldn’t get service.
Finally giving up on getting any more pictures, I replaced the register and headed down.
Unsurprisingly, I followed a slightly different path from my ascent. In particular, I chose a worse route for crossing the boggy area, but still had no trouble getting to the small rise on the other side, after which I quickly found the trail. I was almost at exactly the same point where I had left it on the way up, and it took only a few minutes more to reach the Barr Trail.
There, I did some serious clothes shedding, as the wind had abated and the sun was rapidly warming everything nicely. Just a couple of minutes after heading east from there, I began to encounter substantial numbers of other hikers. I had made the hike up in close proximity to just one other party (of three), and had seen only a handful of others, mostly runners, descending. But now it was approaching midday, and this is a popular trail, so solitude was all over for the day.
I stopped several more times, both to try to take some pictures (I did get just a few), and to make clothing adjustments. Still, I wasn’t worn out, so I ran virtually the whole way, and made good time. My total descent took just about two and a half hours.
Topozone link:

Long life and many peaks!


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