The first half of spring was quite dry. Mountain biking was my sport of choice before the wet weather arrived. Since the mid April storm, it has been difficult to find trails dry long enough to get in a ride. Clouds have been the norm in the high country with the chance of rain or snow most days the past month. A lot of snow has also made for unsafe conditions in many locations in the mountains as well.
Since most of my time recreating was focused on mountain biking in lower elevations, I was eager to get back into an alpine setting. Two weeks ago I went for a quick hike to Brown's Pass. Brown's Pass sits on the Continental Divide at just over 12,000 feet in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness near Mt. Yale. I had a brief window of clear skies and made a quick trip to the pass and back. The pass sit above treeline and has fantastic views of the surrounding high country and endless mountains. The mountains had the most snow coverage I have seen all winter. I contemplated hiking further but I forgot sunscreen. With intense sun and the reflection on the snow, I didn't want to take chances getting baked. I was already cooked by the sun and snow reflection in similar conditions more than a month earlier and the sun has only grown more intense since then.
Since that trip to Brown's Pass, the weather continued to be dreary. Finally I had a small break of clear weather on a day off that I could hike. Unfortunately, the mountains just received more snow and the snow didn't have time to consolidate. I didn't want to take my chances on sketchy snow. I decided to head back to Brown's Pass which travels over tame terrain. My first trip, I forgot my camera battery and wanted to get some photos of the scenery while the mountains are so covered in snow. I also wanted to continue from the pass along the Continental Divide.
I left the Denny Creek Trailhead about 7am. Even though the mountains still wore a heavy blanket of snow, the start of the hike quite a bit less snowy than 2 weeks prior. Last time the trail was snow covered completely except for the first couple hundred feet. This time the trail was a mix of snow and bare ground for nearly the first 2 miles and 1000 vertical feet. The temperature was right around 30F when I started. I was able to travel bareboot for at least 2.5 miles on firm snow before putting on my snowshoes.
The hike starts traveling through the woods. The first 1.3 miles use the same trail that accesses Mt. Yale. The only other tracks I saw in the beginning turned toward Mt. Yale. Less than 2 miles in, the woods thin and some of the surrounding peaks come into view. There is another junction about 2 miles from the start. A trail turns off to the left toward Hartenstein Lake. I continued straight on the Brown's Pass Trail. Because of snow cover, the actual trail was nowhere to be seen and I continued traveling through a mostly open meadow.
|Early views of the Continental Divide|
|Looking back down the trail toward Mt Princeton|
|Close up of Mt Princeton area|
|PTs 12,956 and 12,524|
|Entering a meadow on Brown's Pass Trail|
|Climbing toward Brown's Pass|
|Looking north from Brown's Pass|
|Looking along the Divide north from the pass|
|PT 12,524 from Brown's Pass|
|View back down Denny Gulch from Brown's Pass|
|Looking south on the Divide|
|Looking across basin to the west of the Divide|
|Another shot toward PTs 12,524 and 12,956 as|
I move along the Divide
|Another look toward Yale|
|Three Apostles and I think 14er Huron beyond|
|Looking back along the Divide toward Harvard and Columbia|
|PT 12, 956 from the top of PT 12,524|
|A closer view of PT 12,956 and the route I decide not to take|
|14ers Harvard and Columbia|
|The stunning view to the north|
|Another shot of Yale|
|My descent from PT 12,524|
|Close up of the Three Apostles|
|North from Brown's Pass|
|Yale Close up|
|Princeton, Antero, and neighboring peaks|