Tuesday, August 9, 2011

My First 14er -- Uncompahgre Peak

All of the above-10000-foot hiking back home is still snowbound, and we want to do some higher elevation hiking in preparation for Kilimanjaro next month. So, with a perfect weather forecast on the horizon we headed for Lake City, Colorado to hike some 14ers in the San Juans.

First on our list was Uncompahgre Peak, 14,309 feet. The last four miles to the Nellie Creek 4WD trailhead were okay in the Ford Ranger, 4wd low range, with only two very minor undercarriage scrapes. The 4WD trailhead is at 11,300 feet so we had 3000' of elevation gain in about 4 miles. Most of it was easy walking, with one section of about 150 vertical feet of steep loose rock; the guidebook says Class 2 but I'd give it a Class 2+, I really wanted handholds whenever I could get them. It took us 2:50 to get to the summit; the weather was gorgeous with almost no wind, and we hung out up there for an hour. Then 2:35 later we were back at the truck, cold beers in hand. We saw about 15-20 other people.

This was the highest elevation I'd ever been to outside of an airplane; Jill had been at similar elevations when she was trekking in Nepal. We survived the trip with no issues, and plan to do another 14er on Wednesday.

Lake City, Colorado is a cute little tourist town, built up a lot more than I was expecting this far out of the way. We camped at the county campground (Wupperman) on Lake San Cristobal about 3 miles south of town, it was fine, there is also a Forest Service campground (Williams Creek) another 5 miles down the road.

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