There’s a whole heap of photos from the day in the gallery. Check them out!
In preparation for my parent’s road trip for the season, we decided to head down to Buena Vista, Colorado and check out the hiking trails up a few 14ers. We left the trailhead for good at around 6:30a, and our original goal for the day was Missouri Mountain (or Misery Mountain as Mark was calling it). But when we arrived at tree line just before 8a or so, we were both feeling tired and decided that the closer Mt Belford would make a better goal for the day.
Our route up the mountain was the steep Northwest Ridge, and while it never got more technically difficult than 2nd class, it was a long slog. We spent our morning dragging our feet up over endless switchbacks, generally without a view of the summit. Eventually, I found a good rhythm: every 4th switchback I stopped standing to catch my breath, every 12th was a sit-down rest. Mark probably could have gone faster, but he was nice and stayed with me.
Eventually, we drug ourselves up over the shoulder of the mountain, and from there is was a shorter and less steep hike to the summit. At almost exactly 11am on August 25, 2007, Mark and I bagged the summit of Mt Belford at 14,197ft above sea level, our 5th 14er.
The summit was a bit crowded, but I always say that more than half the fun of hiking 14ers is hanging out with the people you meet along the way. We sat happily in the sun on the sheltered south side of the summit for almost an hour. We did discuss continuing on the visible and fairly easy trail to Mt Oxford, but our water reservoirs were low, and there seemed no place to filter water along the 3 mile round-trip hike to Oxford. After enjoying the views a bit longer, and deciding the weather was holding out for a beautiful day, we decided to hike down the easier, but slightly longer, trail over Elkhead Pass.
The hike down was fantastic. We found a spring to filter water from just under the pass. The day warmed up and the weather was perfect. We moseyed our way down, enjoying being in the mountains, and found ourselves back at the trailhead at just before 5p.
We spent the evening cooking soup and fresh corn-on-the-cob over the campfire. Our free campsite was just off the road, a little past the trailhead, and while there was room for at least 4 other cars and tents, we never saw a single person stop by. I played with some long exposures of the fire and the creek that ran next to our site. And then the whole family promptly fell asleep at dusk.
The next morning we got up and packed up camp (while munching on tasty burnt bacon). We decided to drive up the Mount Princeton road, and see if it was something that my family might prefer for a hike when we’re out there in two weeks. Yeah, there’s no way my mom would have any fun driving on that road. After three steep, scarey, rocky, holey, miles, we found a wide switchback to turn around in, and decided to head home. We’ll be back, I’m sure, someday to hike all of the other 14ers in the area. The Collegiate peaks are steep and remote, but still my favorite mountains (so far)!