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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Uncompahgre Peak is paradise

Date:   June 29, 2013
Mission:  Summit Uncompahgre Peak - the first 14er summit since breaking my ankle on 2/22/2013
Who: Solo
Length:  7 miles
Elevation gain: 3000 ft.

The Uncompahgre National Forest has a natural beauty that rejuvinates my soul every time I visit.  Wildlife, the aroma of the thick pine forest, countless wildflowers, numerous butterflies, beautiful waterfalls, sun glistening creeks, unparalleled mountain views, and add in an alpine sunrise and this place is just heaven.


Uncompahgre Peak in the early morning light.

I skipped out of work midday on Friday to make the 6+ hour drive down to Lake City.  After stopping in town for some decent cajun BBQ, I made my way to the Nellie Creek 4x4 road that leads to the trailhead.  This 4x4 road might be a bit rough on stock SUVs, but the Jeep handled it without a problem.  If you watch on the drive up, you can catch a good view of a waterfall to your left.

Waterfall along the Nellie Creek 4x4 road.

I picked out a nice campsite, even though I had not even packed a tent for this adventure.  I was just sleeping in the Jeep. 

This hike is just so beautiful that words themselves cannot convey the beauty.  My pictures do not even do it justice, but pictures are probably better than words.

 

Alpine Sunrise!



Alpine sunrises are a great reason to wake up at 4am.



Just before the sun peaked above the ridge.

Wildflowers!








Wildlife!

The yellow bellied marmot.  These guys will steal your gear, and likely eat it, if you leave it alone for too long.
 
Deer won't eat your trekking poles, therefore I like them better than marmots.
 

Mountain views!


The San Juan mountain range is just breathtaking.

Clouds & sun make for interesting lighting.

Views looking NW near 13,700'.

 
View from the summit looking west.
Looking over the cliff near the summit facing NE I believe.

The hike up Uncompahgre Peak was relatively uneventful.  My ankle was hurting a bit off and on. It was very tender and sore when I finished, but this is a normal part of the recovery process for torn ligaments.  I did meet a cool guy Ben around 13,400', and we shared some good conversation on the summit.  We have plans of tackling the Maroon Bells together in August which would be the exclaimation point at the end of the statement that says my ankle is recovered.

I'll leave you with what I consider to be one of the coolest summit photos ever.  Thanks Ben for the great summit photo!

When people ask why I climb mountains while recovering from a broken ankle.  This picture is the answer.

Bring on the Bells!

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