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Where not all roads less traveled are roads...

Header Photo: Table Mountain, Golden, Colorado, with views of downtown Denver.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stoned Again, Naturally…

Newly legalized Cannabis laws notwithstanding, there's more than one way to get "stoned" in the Rocky Mountain state. Come along and get an alternative high with Mark and Bobbie. Yep, Colorado rocks!

 
Take a minute and study the lead photo of Mount Sneffels steepled southwest ridge—like a beautiful woman, so tempting, yet so intimidating. 

There are several routes to climb Lovely Ouray's backyard 14'er, Mount Sneffels (14,150 feet, to be exact), and most of them require Crampons and and ice axe's this time of year. It may be summer and flowered where you are, but we've got a couple more weeks to go in Colorado's alpine country. Then, look out baby, "flowers in her hair, flowers everywhere."

With temps climbing into the 80's and Lovely Ouray all abuzz with ice cream licking tourists, Bobbie and I have been escaping to higher, quieter venues. For this day's hike we motored up to Yankee Boy Basin. It's well known for proliferous wildflowers, but since they aren't up yet it was still pretty quiet. 



Coors Falls
We parked at Yankee Boy's lower basin and began our hike to Wright's Lake and the upper basin. With any luck, we hoped to make it on to Blue Lakes Pass (in the partially hidden gap between the two mountains pictured below).

No snow here!!!


It's greening up, water running in every crevice. Soothing sights and sounds for irritated souls.






We took the Wright's Lake exit… 


Encountered more and more patches of snow…


Then BOOM, the upper basin was ours.


Wright's Lake still has some thawing to do…



That's mighty Mount Sneffels above, hemmed in deep snow.



Blue Lakes Pass is the saddle right of center in the photo below. Looks pretty snowed in, but we move in for a closer look. 







The Needled ridge comes into view. We need to skirt around  its left side to reach Blue Lakes Pass.





Thinking we were all alone, I decided to take a leak. I was enjoying the view when voices began echoing down from on high. Lord, is that you? Finally I spied six tiny ants making their way up the standard approach to Mount Sneffels. You might not be able to make them out in the above photo. I zoomed in and took another shot below. That's a steep route. The climbers were moving extremely slow, and they must have had crampons.
  

We kept at it—hopscotching patchy snow, occasionally breaking through up to knees and thighs—till we reached a vast moraine of giant moss-rock boulders that spilled out from the "standard approach" couloir. A good place for lunch, and to watch interludes of light and shadow play on the Needles.








The "ants" voices echoed out with hoops and hollers as they finally gained the hard-won saddle. There was still another snow filled couloir to negotiate… steeper, with underlying boulders big as houses teetering. Just waiting on gravity and a little nudge from the unwary. It's a dangerous section, so I wished them well.
  

The alternate Needle rout to Mount Sneffels...
Not three hundred yards from Blue Lakes Pass, we were turned back by deep snow. Tail between legs we stumbled and slid off the mountain, vowing to both live and return to fight another day.



















Panorama below…. scroll 


10 comments:

  1. Sure enjoying the snow covered mountains pictures, but I'm breathing heavily just thinking of the altitude change. That is a beautiful area for a hike even if no flowers are in bloom and the lakes partially frozen. I'm still amazed that you hike these high altitude trails like it is a stroll in the sea level park.

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  2. These pictures are just breath taking. What a hike! And you are in shorts and no sleeves. Amazing! Love the panorama scroll thing. Don't know how you did it but it's fabulous.

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  3. We are enjoying your state for our 3 week 4th vacation. Only been South to the gold country and today in Rocky Mountain Park and the rest of the time in down town Denver for shows and concerts. This is a wonderful place to visit!
    Hope to visit your area someday and lick Ice Cream like good tourists. Great pics you take.

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  4. We've spent a fair amount of time crawling all over the high country between Durango and Ouray, mostly by Jeep. Yankee Boy remains my favorite. But I'm ready for hiking versus Jeeping.

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  5. Absolutely outstanding pictures!!!

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  6. Enjoyed the hike. Not even tired! Thanks Mark

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  7. Not bugging you again about your book. BUT. Stoned again naturally. Perfect title. With all your postings book as the largest book= Undestanding women!! Walden creek rv. Steve

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  8. I am about to become a fellow traveler and have enjoyed reading your blog. We are just starting our adventure and your blog has inspired me. I started my own blog just about a week ago now. We have not purchased our RV yet but that is our next step. THANK YOU for your inspiration! Jamie www.rvreligion.com

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  9. I am always amazed by your tenacity. This is truly Rocky Mt High.

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