Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hike a 14er, Mt. Yale, Buena Vista Colorado, Denny Creek Trailhead

Guest post from fellow hiking sister, Bobbie Rappe.  Bobbie lives in the high desert of New Mexico and is an avid hiker and runner, when she's not hitting the trails, she's volunteering at the local animal shelter, helping to change the lives of our furry friends.


So you want to hike Mt. Yale?  DO IT!   
Mt. Yale sits atop the Sawatch Range and is one of the majestic Collegiate Peaks.  Mt. Yale comes in at a whopping 14,196 ft and is truly worth the 9.50 miles you will spend on the Class 2 trails. 
Getting there:  From the town of Buena Vista, Colorado, take US 24 in thee center of Buena Vista, to County 306 road towards Cottonwood Pass. Drive 12 miles on this road to reach the Denny Creek Trailhead and paved parking area on the right.  
Specs:  The paved parking lot was easy to find and offered a pit toilet.  It was packed on a July weekend in the summertime!  The trail was well marked and easy to follow. 

The Hike: I followed the standard route from the 14ers website and as usual, it was clear and accurate.  I came up the night before my hike and found a nice, free camping spot along Cottonwood Pass right outside of Buena Vista.  I saw several pull outs with ready-made fire pits along the way and enjoyed a quiet night under the stars.  I stayed just a few miles from the Denny Creek Trailhead so I could get an early start.  When I arrived at the trailhead around 5:50 am, it was packed and people were already hitting the trail!

The Denny Creek trailhead is easy to find from the parking lot and you start out on a fairly smooth path.  
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 About a mile in, you see this log crossing.
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 Continue on the trail to ~1.25 miles and see this sign which will send you in the correct direction
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 I was alone, training for a mountain race, and pushing to get above tree line fairly quickly since clouds were already moving in and I wanted to summit my very first 14er.  It started out with a gradual incline, but I quickly started to feel the burn around 11, 050 ft.  Some sections were very steep, but there were openings in the trees that took my breath away and it was the perfect motivation to keep going.  
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Time to dig in and keep going!  
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The trail peeking out from the trees and the amazing views!

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 I hiked in July and the trail was fairly empty except for the marmots and their families.  
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 I would say I got above tree line around 12,000 ft and it was worth all of the burning in my legs.  Mt. Yale has some of the most incredible views!  
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The trail was mostly smooth, single track and I hit the “death march” nearing 13,000 ft.  
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 When it felt like I couldn’t take another step, I reached a scramble section.  Nothing but large boulders to the summit and a few cairns to help lead the way.  I felt it was easiest to take a path that helped me feel most comfortable instead of following the cairns, but just a personal preference.  The scramble gave my legs a break and it was a lot of fun!  There is a small false summit, but I had no problem finding the true one I worked so hard for.  People had dogs with them, and the dogs made it to the top, but I wouldn’t recommend it personally.   It took me a little under 2.5 hours to summit and I sure felt it the next day.  I wouldn’t change it for the world.  
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Looking up to the peak, so close!
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The views from the top are what you’d expect from the top of the world.  Majestic and magnificent!
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Clouds were rolling in quickly and I didn’t spend much time up top.  I chose to run the single track back to the parking lot and I’m glad I did.  I got about a mile from the truck when it started hailing and raining buckets.  This was about 10:45 am, so if you choose to hike during monsoon season, get an early start! People were just starting up the trail and it ended up raining the entire day.  You are extremely exposed above tree line and the true dangers of elevation are real.  Be safe out there and have fun!   Mt. Yale was the perfect mountain to get the 14er fever and I plan on summiting many more of the Collegiate Peaks this year.  Hope to see you out there!

***And please, encourage others on your way back down.  You never know what has lead someone to that trail and they may feel defeated and ready to quit.  Remind them they’re almost there and it’s totally worth it J  Spread the love in the mountains!
 

 



2 comments:

  1. Thanks! Beautiful photos

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