I’d really wanted to hike above treeline today, but with
anticipated wind speeds of 40mph and windchill of -18 degrees above treeline, I
thought it would be a better idea to stay closer to home. I didn’t set my alarm for this morning, but
woke up at about 7:30am when the cats informed me the sun was up and I wasn’t. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to about 2
inches of snow on my front lawn! Luckily
it was a very clear day and the winds here seemed to be minimal, so I ran for
an hour on the treadmill, took a shower, and answered some emails before
heading out to hike. I was waiting for
the temperature to warm up a bit before hitting the trails.
I made it to the trailhead at around 10:15am. The drive up the canyon was very icy, and
closed to vehicles that didn’t have 4WD.
This was a bit unexpected, as the area looked snow free from both my
house and the road (it wasn’t).
I attempted to hike Mt Kineo earlier this year, but had to
turn back due to lack of sunlight and a visible trail. Today I was just looking for a hike close to
home that could serve as a training hike since I couldn’t get above
treeline. I was also looking for a
successful summit, because it really hurt to have to turn back last time.
I started at 10:30am.
There were about 10 cars in the parking lot, despite the gate being
closed to upward traffic back down at the visitors center (the exit gate was
open, which is what we all took to get in).
The trail started on Gold Camp Road, then after crossing the
North Cheyenne Canyon creek intersected with the Seven Bridges Trail (622). This part of the hike was relatively easy,
although covered in a 2-3 inch layer of snow.
It wasn’t slippery because it was truly fresh snow, but it did slow me
down a bit.
Once I started crossing bridges the trail got much more
icy. It wasn’t icy enough to warrant microspikes
(I had them) but I did need to pay attention to my footing. Much of this part of the trail was in the
shadows of the canyon, and cold.
After passing the 7th bridge it began to warm up
a bit. I took the trail to my right,
turning sharply uphill, staying on 622.
Here is where the elevation gain started to get a bit more
intense, although not difficult. I
crossed a rocky section, and then a section of loose scree. This was my favorite part of the hike!
The trail paralleled a creek, and then turned right onto
trail 622A and continued up a hill that skirted an aspen grove.
At the top of the hill is where I had to turn back last time
due to inadequate information and not enough sunlight. However, this time I was greeted with trail
signs!!! Apparently last time I’d hiked
when the trail was “under maintenance’, so all the signs had been removed. Today they were back!
No, these trail signs did not indicate the trail I needed,
but they did indicate where I was exactly on the map. From the signs I turned right and saw a large
downed tree to the east. This is where
the ‘trail’ to Mt Kineo started. I could
immediately see my mistake from last time:
there are numerous social trails in the area, and when there wasn’t any
snow I traversed more to the left.
Indeed, now there were footprints taking the route I did before. However, I decided to take the trail without
footprints, the one that was now obviously a trail with a few inches of snow
but that I hadn’t been able to see without snow.
It was so cool to be the first one making tracks on this
trail! I knew I was on route, and that I
wasn’t too far away from my destination.
The trail was difficult to follow in areas due to the snow as well, but
every so often I’d come across a cairn and know I was going in the right
I stayed to the west of the Aspen grove, and soon took the hill
and was on a saddle. Here I had a great view
of Pikes Peak!
I continued up and to the east, and shortly came to a small
rock hill. At the top of these rocks was
The way up was cold and slippery due to the snow, but not
really difficult (and without snow would have been no problem at all).
I summited at noon, and had great views of Southern Colorado!
I was super proud of myself for making my own tracks and
gaining a summit that didn’t have an established route on a map.
The hike back down was colder than the hike up, and covered
in more shadows. Once I hit the Seven
Bridges Trail the snow had turned to ice along this popular trail due to hikers
packing it down on their way.
I was surprised to see Barron, a scout in Thomas’ Boy Scout
Troop, biking along Gold Camp Road as I was hiking down.
I made it back to my truck at 12:30pm, making this a 6 mile
hike with 2020’ in elevation gain in 3 hours.
Not bad considering the route finding and snow!