Sunday, July 12, 2015
Tetons, 14ers and the incline - Holy Legs!
A trip to Jackson Hole in May got me all hyped up for hiking Colorado’s 14ers this summer. Jackson Hole is truly one of my favorite spots on this earth and we had a great week of hiking, hot tubing, relaxing, exploring and lots of in-house dancing. Last summer I spent so much time teaching, doing promotions for Pressery at the farmer’s markets, and taking on extra responsibilities that I felt like I didn’t get to enjoy the summer. Plus we were living in a rental house and wanting to move so we needed to save money thus my time spent hiking and enjoying family time were put on the back burner. I decided I didn’t want this summer to be like that and I wanted to enjoy the things I can only enjoy in the summer. Life is too short to be spent working and not living.
I frequently am asked what hikes I recommend for the places I’ve explored so here are my top picks for Jackson Hole. These three hikes are appropriate for anyone traveling with a toddler as we did all of them with Charlotte in tow. Unlike Colorado, these hikes don’t have as much elevation gain so as long as you are in moderate physical shape they are all accessible.
Death Canyon – at the very least you can hike to the Phelps Lake overlook and down to the lake. If you are serious about hiking you can go even further into the Canyon. Everyone we saw was hiking with Bear mace which we did not carry but if I were overnighting in the woods I would.
Jenny lake to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point – this is a very popular hike in the park and has rewarding views of both the lake and waterfalls at the end.
Snow King Mountain – snow king is a smaller ski resort property in Jackson Hole and in the summer you can hike up the mountain bike trails to the top of the mountain for a great view of the valley. The lift wasn’t running in may when we were there but I’m assuming if it is you could take the lift down to the bottom instead of hiking round trip. The hike isn’t as pretty scenery wise as you’re on the side of a ski hill but the views are stunning. Since it isn’t in the park you don’t have to pay to access the hike either.
You can also take the tram to the top of the main resort and hike the mountain there but the tram was pretty pricey so we decided to save our money.
I kicked off 14er season with my friend Margaret who, coincidentally was the same person I kicked off the season with last year. Unlike last year, we didn’t have any road closures resulting in a 26 mile hike and a plethora of mosquitos to deal with. Due to limited time we decided to tackle Mount Columbia which was my 37th 14er and Sawatch Range finisher. I had wanted to hike Columbia in tandem with Harvard last year, however, weather moved in and we were unable to complete the traverse. We took snow shoes because I had read that there was still some snow on the ridge to deal with at the top. The gulley up Columbia isn’t too horrible but on the way down we exited too soon because the snow threw us off and ended up in the center of the gulley. Everything you’ll read about Columbia on 14ers.com will tell you to stay away from the center of the gulley on the way up because it’s loose and dangerous. Well Margaret and I can both attest to this. Despite losing each other, rock slide, brief moments of panic and a thought we might actually have to be rescued we were able to make it down alive. I suggest if hiking them both to go up Columbia then traverse to Harvard then go back down because Harvard’s standard route is much better than Columbia’s on the way down and it’s better defined.
After hiking the incline in Manitou Springs that Sunday with my QiFlow Booty Boot camp crew I had plans to then hike San Luis with my friend Michelle the following weekend.
San Luis is one of the most isolated 14ers in the state. It is a part of the San Juan mountain range but it’s 50 miles off the main road and it’s only a class 1 and no other 14ers are near it so you have to WANT to hike this peak to go through all the trouble. I would say if you happen to be down in Lake City hiking that you might as well hit San Luis up as well. 14ers.com says the trail is 14 miles roundtrip but the main trailhead sign says 5.5 one way so I’m not sure which one is correct (all I know is it’s a long day). Michelle and I car camped past the trailhead down by the bathrooms where there is no defined camp spots just chose your own adventure. There’s quite a bit of dispersed camping along the road in if you look we just didn’t see anything as we arrived pretty late in the evening. I saw several people back packing in but I don’t think it’s necessary as the route isn’t technical. We started at 5am and were down to the car by 1pm (that’s with stopping for lunch along the hike). The San Juans are some of my favorite mountains and the range truly has unique views all around.
Next adventure is Sneffles for our wedding anniversary. Chad and I were planning on going to Japan but that fell through so he suggested we drive somewhere and hike. My husband never suggests hiking a 14er so I had to jump at the chance. We’d normally fly as Sneffles is down by Telluride, however we need a car to get to the trailhead and it would cost more to rent an SUV than I feel it would be worth. So we are driving Thursday and staying in Gunnison, getting up early Friday and hiking the ridge route and staying in Ridgeway Friday and Saturday night. Side trips to Telluride and Ouray are planning in-between. I didn’t really feel like camping three nights for our wedding anniversary hence plans to stay in a hotel. My mom is coming in town to watch Charlotte rendering us kid free for the weekend. Some married couples go to stay at the Ritz and get massages for their anniversary, we hike mountains!