• Dr. Mike Routt

Hiking 14,309 ft. Uncompahgre Peak

Four couples (and one son) from Redemption Hill Church traveled to Lake City, Colorado this past weekend to hike 14,309 ft. Uncompahgre Peak.  We drove to our destination on Friday, enjoyed dinner together (3 couples) and spent the night.  

On Saturday morning, members of our 14er Club, Wayne Cantwell, Charlie Sabadell, Greg Swartz and I left at 5:00 am for the trailhead.  While Wayne and I waited for the others to pick us up in the lodge parking lot, Wayne noticed a door open on a car.  In the darkness, he peered in the car, but saw nothing.  Later it was discovered that a bear had opened the door and entered the car!  Fortunately, the bear was not in the car at the time we were waiting for our ride.

Kudos to Greg Swartz for driving us to the trailhead.  The last 4 miles of the drive took 50 minutes as Greg navigated huge rocks, much mud, very sharp curves, and ginormous pot-holes!

Arriving at dusk, we began our ascent at 6:00 am.  At the very beginning of the hike, a light rain began falling.  For the rest of the hike, we would experience rain "on and off."  As we continued to hike, we noticed threatening clouds ahead.  We also met several persons coming from the opposite direction who decided not to summit due to concerns about lightening.  Another person who was about 30 minutes ahead of us came back because he saw a mountain lion on the trail!

At 13,200 ft., the four of us, after hearing a "rumble" of thunder, stopped to take a look at doppler radar on our phones, and debated if we wanted to proceed.  My opinion?  I spent money on gas, lodging and meals.  I drove 4 1/2 hours to get to Lake City.  I am only 1,000+ feet from the summit.  GO!  The other 3 buys wholeheartedly  agreed.  So we "booked it!"  We ran out of trail at 13,500 ft., and came upon a 150 ft. steep section of loose rock. After scrambling up that section, we hit level ground again, and hiked a quarter mile to the summit, reaching it at 9:00 am.  Unfortunately, the only view we had "at the top" was clouds.  Yes, we were "in" the clouds, and were also pelted with graupel (soft hail/snow pellets).  Since we could not enjoy a view, we took a quick 10 minute protein break, and began our descent.

Around 13,200, we walked out of the clouds and saw some spectacular scenery, including a small waterfall, mountains in the distance, and beautiful and varying cloud formations.  From the summit, we hiked back to the trailhead in 1 hour and 46 minutes.  Final stats showed that we hiked 8.75 miles in 4 hours and 46 minutes.

In spite of the inclement weather, we thoroughly enjoyed our hike.  Uncompahgre Peak was my 30th summited 14er.  Our next 14er hike is scheduled for September 22.  If you are in excellent physical condition, you are certainly welcome to join us!!

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