Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lower Buchanan Pass Trail

I pushed the limits of the time I have available to hike on a school day a bit on Friday, heading out to Camp Dick to do the Lower Buchanan Pass Trail with mountain man Josh Futterman.  My window is 7:15 from the time I drop Taryn off at her bus stop in the morning to when I need to be there to pick her up in the afternoon.  That means I can drive 90 minutes, hike for four hours and get back with a little wiggle room.

The drive there timed out perfectly, though my Apple Map freaked me out a bit by estimating it would be two hours.  I'd been to the area enough to feel like that was a lot longer than it would actually take, which turned out to be the case.  We didn't actually hit the trailhead for nearly 20 minutes, though, so my wiggle room was already gone.

Josh mentioned how this is one of his favorite times of year to hike, and seeing how the small amount of snow and ice added so much visual interest to the scenery without making it significantly more difficult to hike I had to agree with him.

The trail is pretty heavily treed in for most of its length.  But when it does finally open up you get a pretty spectacular view of Sawtooth Mountain.

We weren't content to just shoot the view from the trail, but had to scramble up this talus a bit to find just the right angle.

Josh was seriously contemplating making a solo push to Sawtooth's summit.  He figured it would only be another two-and-a-half hours at the most.  I told him good luck with that.  He decided to save it for another time.

I could understand the appeal, though.  The peak is definitely striking, and has what seems like an easy-to-traverse ridgeline up from Buchanan Pass.

We saw lots of tracks, but no actual wildlife other than some Douglas Squirrels.  This deer scat looked fresh enough to imply that we hadn't missed seeing whoever dropped it by much.

The patterns and shapes of the ice forming on the Middle St. Vrain Creek were just mesmerizing.  Soon a smooth, solid sheet will cover most of the water, looking like it was put down by the wintry equivalent of an asphalt truck.  But at this stage there are beautiful textures everywhere you look.

The tiny columns and bulbs descending from the icy top to the running water below gave a feeling of elegance and delicacy to something that would inevitably be hard and featureless.

We covered the 7.7 miles and roughly a thousand feet of elevation gain in 3:45, restoring a little breathing room as I drove back home.  I pulled back into our neighborhood about 10 minutes before Taryn's bus was scheduled to arrive, but Danelle had come home early from work anyway so things were covered.

Hmmm ... guess I could have pushed to the summit of Sawtooth with Josh after all!

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