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Thursday, June 18, 2020

Guide Noir: Going Off Trail To Richmond Pass

Two days after Bridge of Heaven, the 3 "hiker babes," plus Your's Truly, headed up the Million Dollar Highway in order to hike the Richmond Pass Trail. There are several ways to get to Richmond's lofty Pass, but this trail is the shortest...thus, the steepest. Not 200 yards out of the "gate," we were already gassed. Note: Rate of Ascent + Angle of Ascent + Altitude + Headwind = Yards Till Gassed. Simple math.

My legs were AWOL...largely due to the Bridge hike followed by the stupid idea to bike back up to the trailhead the next day (1700 feet of elevation) in order to retrieve our car. So, Oh no, Michelle is going to kick my ass...again!  I've got to either quit telling stories on the way up or shorten them enough to breathe more. One or the other, cause I don't have the lungs to both talk and keep her in sight.

Richmond Pass Trail serpentines through an all-aspen forest. It would make it a mind-altering, supremely radiant fall hike. Make a note, though: Bring oxygen! They sell it in little cans now.

It's been a while since I hiked Richmond Pass Trail (i. e. excuse) so Guide Noir went and screwed up the route. In fact, much to Bobbie's dismay and countermanding verbal abuse, I stood my ground and instructed everyone to abandon their well-worn, well-cairned trail, and to drop down a precipitous tundra slope that bordered on vertical, in order join me on a sketchy, lame, game trail that abruptly petered out within a couple hundred yards. Yep.

Well, long painful/embarrassing story short, we ended up in the next basin over...Macintyre, before I realized (gulp...swallow pride) that Bobbie was right. Of course you all knew that because it's happened so many times.

No worries, I say. We'll just pop over a tundran mountain and rejoin the trail on the ridge. Someone mentioned something about going back and picking up the actual trail, but I killed that idea in its tracks. Never go back! Besides, this will be fun...in not informative and interesting. Who needs trails!  
You do, came the unanimous reply.  

Bobbie and Ruthie, not to pleased with my route-finding aptitude... But the views were sublime!

I put my blunder on the below map...for all to see and ridicule. Hey. I was only off by one basin!

Michelle took off like a hot rocket, headed for the high ridge in a full stride power hike (she had two poles, which, according to the Geezer Hikers Handbook under Section IV,  Paragraph Three, is strictly forbidden. It's considered cheating, punishable by offendees right to add rocks to the offendees backpack. 

Upon topping the ridge, I raced over to peer down into what I prayed was the correct basin. YES!  Then I spied Hayden Mountain...towering above like a lighthouse beacon. YES! We still had a ways to go, though, and some slanted snowfields to cross...

Mechelle, with Hayden Mountain's talussummit in the background.

Time for photos and a well deserved snack break.

Bobbie and Ruthie

Bobbie checks out the names of surrounding peaks

Happy Hikers, Michelle and Ruthie...with Mount Sneffels and Potosi Peak in the background.

I put it to a vote, on whether or not to bag Hayden while so close. Given the wind, the gals decided they were "content" with the saddle. We agreed to come back during wildflower season, and climb Hayden on a day with less wind...from the other side, where I won't get lost.

Time to head down... 

Peace out,
Mark and the gals


  1. Excellent story-telling! about being in the wrong basin and popping over to the next ridge and never going back! Does Bobbie sometimes wonder that you need her as a protagonist with conflicts in your stories so therefore you create impossible but beautiful routes?

    1. Uhhhh...yes. Getting lost is my secret plan to aid in collecting "new dots." :)

  2. Can't stop that competitive drive ;)

    1. it's innate (sigh). When it's gone, just bury me...

  3. You didn't have to throw in that map, Ironton Park and surroundings is our playground:) What a hike in the Park that was; had it all, from the start to the finish......made my morning :) Just wish I had been tagging along :(


    D & A


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