Between Christmas, Thanksgiving, illness, house projects, lack of snow, and a laundry list of other dumb excuses, we hadn’t managed to get on snow until MLK weekend. We fired up Xterrible at 5:36 in the AM and made good time on the highway until we got to Golden on I-70 at which time traffic ground to a crawl. Fast forward three excruciating hours to 8:30 AM, and we found ourselves standing in a humongous line in the A-Basin base lodge hoping to fill up on Huevos Rancheros and bad coffee. Regarding first chair: all hope was long since abandoned.
We chose a doubleheader for our first 14ers of the year and it did not disappoint! The hike itself is pretty straightforward: am obvious trail departs from the road and leads you via the path of least resistance up Grays and then Torreys. An optional knife-edge trail descends from the summit of Torreys, which we omitted, but could be used as a nice way to vary the scenery on the return trip. It doesn’t really change the mileage but ads some exposure. Both summits offer glorious views of the Summit County mountains. But the factor that really takes the cake for me is the stunning alpine valley from whence you begin. The best way (IMHO) to tick off these peaks is to drive up Stevens Gulch Road the day before until you get to the end or until you’d rather not punish your vehicle any further. The road peters out nearby an extensive alpine meadow sprinkled with mining remains and ample opportunities for car camping. Get an early start, find a nice camp spot and take in some world-class views while you acclimate. Waking up at the trailhead really takes the edge off of a 14er and the ambiance is second to none!
To escape the Seattle area weather, it was time for some winter camping! Also, it was Atlas’ first camping experience, and thus the first time he has made it on the site. Last September Catherine and I got Atlas as an eight week old German Shorthair Pointer puppy! Now he’s old enough to come with us on some adventures.
When we got back from our ride, we set about grilling some steaks, cooking some corn on the cob, and feasting on a small plethora of snacks. We hit the sack semi-early for an early rise: we would be in search of fish on the high seas with a charter fishing guide.