As mentioned previously we’ve celebrated moving to Ridgway, CO by heading for the hills surrounding her during every obligation-free moment. We don’t know what people do for fun around here if they’re not into Being Outside. Seriously, it’s not as though there are shopping malls and Jay-Z concerts to run off to. Happily we prefer the mountain scene and making our children Be Outside and holy crap, this new neighborhood is a kick in the pants when it comes to hiking.
We have very quickly started to redefine our sliding scale of trail difficulty, both in terms of sketchy exposure and the sheer vertical-gain-to-distance-covered graph. In conversation we rate them ‘we would take the kids on this one, we would take visitors on this one, we would do neither for this one.’ Every weekend we go up trails that, on descent, I marvel that we’ve come up because we’re basically skidding and sliding unhindered down 2-3000′ vertical feet. This is especially obvious with a four year old who spends a lot of that time on her butt.
Next hike on the docket was Hayden’s North Ridge
Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden was a badass who back in the late 1800s tromped around the western US and did a thorough geologic survey which resulted in beautiful and detailed topo maps. As a geographer and total map geek Hayden is one of those people I’d like to have met. Anyway, ole Ferdi’s name is sprinkled around the west from Hayden Valley in Yellowstone to the town of Hayden, CO to Hayden Mountain right here in our back yard.
We had the kids on this one and I’m still feeling proud about the climb that they did that day. From the 9600′ trailhead in Ironton you have about 300′ of flat ground and after that you just hope that you’ve used your calf muscles for something other than walking to the fridge over the past few months. It’s a ball-buster, straight up 3000′ to the northern summit of Hayden’s ridge.
Etc. You get the picture. Hayden is, to put it mildly, a good work-out, yet without any of the exposure we have encountered in some of the other new hikes we’ve done. And mid-September is pretty much an awesome time to do it.
I know I should be including trail maps or real honest trail information here or really anything to make this blog more useful but I just don’t have time. I have crappy reality TV to go watch. Or 50 Shades to finish. You know, important stuff. It’s all about balance, people. oh NEVER MIND, I guilted myself into adding crappy maps at least.
People encountered on this hike: 1
Next: Red Mountain Number 1 via Grey Copper
Sitting somewhere between Brown Mountain and Blue Lakes are Red Mountains #1,2 and 3. The dudes naming these things Back In the Day had way more important things to worry about than assigning cute and creative nomenclature. ‘Hey Billy – what should we name THAT one over thar?’ ‘Hm, let me think on that for a minute. How about Blooming Lotus Flower, Hank? You got that marmot skinned yet?’ Yeahhh…they were busy eating moldy bacon and wormy flour for breakfast, lunch and dinner, dynamiting silver out of the sheer mountain cliff faces and carving the Scariest Shit Ever Roads through the Rocky Mountains. And besides, the mountains are indeed Brown and Red and those lakes truly are the Bluest ever.
For our second celebratory child-free Friday Todd and I headed back up to Ironton to the Grey Copper trail. Starting at 9800′ it follows a two-track for a while and then starts winding through the aspens on a nice trail. You get glimpses of Red Mountain through the trees until you finally pop out onto the open rock slides and get bombarded by it’s technicolor beauty. The three Red Mountains are iconic in this part of Colorado and we’ve always wanted to get on top of them. Today was the day.
The Grey Copper trail is one of the mellower hikes that we’ve done, not that there isn’t a bunch of elevation gain, but at least it’s only 2700′ of gain from trailhead to summit and at least someone had the decency to not make that gain happen in a mile. No, that’s the Richmond Trail which will appear in a future post. You wander past the Vernon Mine and up onto the end of a spur of the Corkscrew Road. This brings up up to a pass of sorts where you can take a left if you’d like to climb up Brown Mountain or right if you prefer Red.
Off the road there are pretty little ponds which you glance at briefly before stealing yourself for the last push up the mountain while gaping at the
cheaters people who just drove their jeeps up to where you’ve been hiking 2 hours to get to. Who is smarter? You’d have to take a good look at Corkscrew before answering that one.
I felt like I was getting my ass handed to me getting up on the ridge from the puddles but once on the ridge line it’s a great walk, albeit a bit like being on mars. We had a perfect day out there. Highly recommend this one.
People encountered on this hike: 0 hikers, 2 Jeeping folk.