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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Wilson Peak - a love rescue

Date:   August 9th, 2014
Mission:  Summit Wilson Peak (elevation 14,017')
Who:  My wife Siona and myself
Total Length:  10 miles
Elevation gain: 3800 ft.


"Never give up on someone you can't go a day without thinking about.  ~ Author Unknown

Siona and I took Friday off work in order to get out of town early and enjoy the seven hour drive to the Rock of Ages trail head.  Our drive was filled with some much needed time together and great conversation.  We stopped for an enjoyable dinner at The Anglers Inn near Placerville after taking the slightly longer but much more scenic route down highway 141.  This road rolls through all kinds of terrain including canyons, red rock desert, forest, and meadows.  It was a part of Colorado that neither of us had ever seen.  With each mile that clicked off on the odometer and with each word spoke, our relationship was growing closer again.     

We finished the drive to the trail head and setup camp at a camping spot about 100 yards before the parking area.  The silence of the surrounding forest, the peace from a relationship rejuvenating conversation allowed for one of the best nights of sleep I've ever had in a tent.  We woke around 4am happy and ready for our ascent of Wilson Peak. 


"Anyone can be passionate, but it takes real lovers to be silly."  ~ Rose Franken

We walked up the Rock of Ages approach for a few miles until we entered the basin about the time daybreak was occurring.  In the early morning light I apparently missed a switchback just past the remains of an old building.  This led us up a social trail on the north face of Unnamed 13540 B.  Very quickly I realized the error I had made when the social trail we were on petered out and we were left standing on some dangerously loose talus.  This entire talus slope wobbled with every step. 

Siona walking with her cat feet on this dangerous slope.

We immediately traversed off this talus back towards the trail.  We moved as softly as we could off this slope to avoid triggering a rock slide.  After getting off the loose talus, we ended up ascending a steep social trail from 12,200' to 12,600'.  This "trail" was steep scree where for every two steps forward you'd slide one step back.  I think this was the crux of our whole day.  We did eventually met up with the real trail at 12,600' or so. 

Siona fighting her way up this steep scree.  This picture really does no justice on showing the difficulty of this slope.

This woman rocks!  Smiles all around as we are back on the real trail.

We continued down the trail and finally reached the Rock of Ages Saddle where we were greeted with views of Mt. Wilson and El Diente Peak.

Mt. Wilson and El Diente (left to right).

After reaching the saddle between Wilson Peak and Gladstone Peak, we began the fun part of our day on the class 3 terrain.

Siona negotiating some moderately exposed class 3 terrain.

At one point while I was getting something out of my pack I told my wife to "Hang tight."  Siona's unique and great sense of humor resulted in this next picture.

Siona being silly and "Hanging tight"  :)

Siona doing some work on this talus/scree mixture.

Great views all around on this hike.

Gladstone Peak looming on the right and Lizard's Head off the left.

Siona with a good portion of the San Juan range in the background cheering her on.

Me nearing the top of the false summit.

After arriving at the false summit at 13,900' the remaining route looks intimidating, but don't let it fool you.  It is pure fun. 

Chilling on the false summit.

From 13,900', you must down climb about 50 ft. in order to get to the spot where you can do some exposed class 3 moves to gain the real summit.  This down climb requires careful attention.

Me down climbing from 13,900'.
Siona down climbing with an audience above her.

We then climbed up the last 100' feet or so and reached a well earned summit. 

Views that were a perfect reward for a tough and equally fun climb. 

My sweetie and I enjoying each other's company nearly as much as the views and the stellar weather.

We stayed on the summit for about 20 minutes and then began our descent.  Getting down  the mountain was uneventful but still enjoyable.  We chatted with a few other hikers along the way.  We talked.  We even got invaded by thousands of little gnats when we got back into the trees. 

Siona climbing back up to the false summit.

Back at the saddle.

Me being silly and trying to keep gnats from flying in my nose.  :)
There are a few beautiful sections of the rock of ages approach, just not many.

The drive home was also filled with good conversation, and produced great memories that is until a stomach virus hit me like a ton of bricks.  Fortunately for me, I had the best woman in the world there to take care of me.

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