Length: 14.5 miles
Time: 10 hours
Weather: 45-70 degrees, cloudy
This week, I took a 3-day camping and hiking trip to the Mount Massive Wilderness near Leadville, CO. On 6/30, I got the popup camper trailer ready and drove up to the Elbert Creek Campground. On 7/1, I hiked Mount Massive (main trail, East Slope), returning home on 7/2.
The trailhead was only about a hundred yards from the campground. I set out early at 4:00 AM. All morning, the weather was cloudy and cool. I reached the summit at about 9:00 AM, and spent about 1 hour there, eating lunch and enjoying the views. To the east, it was mostly cloudy, although occasionally the clouds would give me a peek through here or there. To the west, it was mostly clear with great views. On the return hike, the clouds to the east dissipated and I could see the views that were obscured during the climb up. I took my time on the descent, enjoying the views and trying to avoid injury.
One of the things I enjoy about hiking is the hours of quiet which provide the opportunity to think about things. Today, I thought a-lot about my brother, Chance, who just moved from Indiana to Arkansas in order to start a new career in supply chain logistics. I thought about how his new venture would be challenging and hopefully rewarding, just like a day-hike can be on a smaller scale. I also thought about the rest of his family, my mom, and sister, who will all miss living near each other. Lots of positive thoughts sent your way today! I am grateful to be part of your family!
A note about the trail: The signage for the Massive Trail turn off from the Colorado Trail is somewhat confusing in my opinion. A sign exists for the Main Massive Trail immediately after crossing Willow Creek. The arrows for both trails point in the same direction; this is NOT where you turn off of the Colorado Trail. (I was confused by seeing a sign for a trail where you are not supposed to take the turnoff.) Instead, you continue on the CT for 200 yards or so until you see a second sign for the Massive Trail, with the arrow pointing up (west). My best guess is, the first sign near the creek is intended to tell hikers to stay on the CT, because the Massive Trail originally turned off there and remnants of the original trail can still be seen.
I did enjoy this travel plan of camping two nights with the big hike on the day in between. It allowed me to wake up early, but not ridiculously early, in order to get an early start on the trail. After the long hike, it was really nice to take a nap at camp and not have to drive home immediately. On the other hand, it is more logistical work to set up the camper, and plan for meals and clothing for the additional time. I would do it this way again–I think it’s more enjoyable to take the extra time.
When leaving the campground on my return, I picked up a hitchhiker at the Mt. Elbert trailhead. He looked like a thru-hiker. Turns out, his trail name is T-Bone and he is hiking the 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail. He started from the southern terminus in New Mexico about 10 weeks earlier. I was happy to have met him and played a small part in his adventure. His blog is here.
This trip also refreshed my sense of gratefulness for living in Colorado. The drive was enjoyable and the hike was just great. I saw many out of state license plates at the campground, and met several people from other states (TX, MO, NC) and other countries (Canada, Switzerland). Everyone else had to make great efforts to be there, while I had just made the plans the day before. It is indeed a blessing to live near the Rockies.
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