After getting some morning chores done around the house I was looking to get a little hiking in. I decided to take my map and drive up the Squaw Pass road, which connects with the Mount Evans highway (the highest continually-paved road in North America, taking you and your vehicle to over 14,000-feet). There are plenty of mountains to climb around the Mt. Evans area, but I was unsure about accessibility. After a couple failed attempts to find adequate starting points to certain mountains, I pulled off on the side of the road next to Chief Mountain. There it was, poking its rocky head out of the forest, so close to the road, there for the taking. Clouds were starting to thicken as they usually do in the afternoon in the Colorado Rockies, so I didn’t waste any time.
There was a bit of a trail coming off the road, but it soon widened into what appeared to be an long-unused road going in the wrong direction, so I jumped off it and headed up the steep, forested slope. Going off trail up the side of a mountain can be a struggle, but I was ready for some leg burn. I soon was breathing heavy to the point of my chest hurting.
When you are climbing a mountain in the trees you can’t see much of anything ahead and are always looking for a sliver of sky to show itself and hint at the mountain top rounding off, or perhaps a talus slope above tree line. Until you reach that point it’s pretty annoying and so steep there isn’t much to enjoy. So you keep moving forward at a steady pace until you get there. I was going fast and it didn’t take me long to get to the rocky base of the summit. From there it was a more enjoyable, a simple exercise of rock hopping. These talus slopes always make me feel like I’m walking up irregularly-shaped stairs made out of granite. It’s much easier than navigating through the steep forest.
I had one of my dogs with me, and just when we were about to reach the summit the dog got nervous and stopped going up. I’m not sure what her deal was, as it was completely within her skill level, but she can be a weenie in certain situations. I told her to sit and stay and repeated this louder as I made the final accent. Just before the last few steps I turned around to yell at her again to stay, and as I swung back around I was surprised to see a woman sitting at the top looking at me. I apologized for disturbing the peace and told her my dog was reluctant to come up the rest of the way. She had a dog with her, too, and said it was easier coming up the other side of the mountain. Apparently I had missed a marked trail head while driving by the other side of the mountain. Oh, well.
There were two other people on the summit as well. I was a little disappointed, as I thought I had the mountain to myself, but it’s just about impossible to get away from people in Colorado. It’s a great state and so many people want to enjoy it. Fair enough. I took a few quick photos and headed back down. First mountain in the bag.