Huron Peak is one of fifteen 14ers in Colorado’s Sawatch Range. I have climbed all but two.
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My alarm clock went off at 4 AM and I eventually dragged myself out of bed. Normally it’s best to camp at the base of a 14er the night before a hike, but my wife was out of town and I had pets to feed at home before I left. It’s important to get off the top of mountains before noon to avoid the danger of developing thunderstorms in the afternoon. I hit the road at 4:45 and had about a 2-hour drive.
It’s not recommended to climb mountains by yourself, but sometimes going into the wilderness alone is good for your mind and soul. Plus, without having to cater to the needs of another, I can drive myself hard up the mountain without mercy. That kind of harsh, physical challenge is cathartic, invigorating, and healthy for the self-esteem. 14ers are very popular in Colorado during the summer weekends, so I knew there would be at least a few people on the mountain at the same time.
A dirt road roughly half-way between Leadville and Buena Vista takes you deeper into the mountains with access to four 14ers.
This road takes you past a few old, abandoned mining communities with many historic cabins. At the end of this road is one called Winfield. From there a 4X4 road heads south towards Huron Peak. I drove on this rough road for a half mile before I felt it was in the best interest of my old truck to just park and walk from there. That would add three more miles to my round trip, but it was early and the road wasn’t steep. Of course, after walking a little further down the road it smoothed out and would have been easy for my truck.
Despite my desire to be alone, I was shocked to see so many vehicles parked at the trailhead. That’s the one thing about Colorado I don’t like. No matter where you go, no matter how far out, the odds are always good that you’ll run into someone. Thankfully for me, everyone I would encounter was very pleasant and generally seemed to be enjoying the scenery and experience as much as me.
Covering 3.5 miles with 3,700-feet elevation gain in the thin air, I made it up to the top in a blazing 2.5 hours. Of the 60 or so people I counted on the mountain, all but a few had started before me, and only a few stayed ahead of me on the way down. It wasn’t a race, but I was energized and very happy that my conditioning was strong.
The summit of Huron is rather small, and there must have been about fifteen people at the top lounging around when I got there. I literally was stepping around people to see different views and snap some photos. It was like a little summit party. Everyone was in high spirits, which is what you should be in after such an accomplishment. I only spent about ten minutes there. After taking a few photos and eating a delicious piece of homemade shrimp and spinach pizza that I had packed for lunch (a most unusual mountaineering treat), I started back down.
When I had made it back to the basin I saw two people with their two dogs playing in a little pond left over from snow melt. As I approached, the dog that looked like a boxer/pit bull mix started barking and charged at me. One of the people yelled for it to come back but he just kept coming. I stayed calm as he ran up on me acting aggressive and began jumping on me with its front legs. I told him to go away and eventually he went back to his people, but not before leaving muddy foot prints on my clothes. Let me tell you something, dog owners: If you don’t have your dog trained to come back to you when you call it, keep it on a leash! I may be lucky that he didn’t bite me, but he was lucky he didn’t get kicked in the head.
Somehow I managed to get back to my truck in the same amount of time it took to get up. That is not common and was more proof that I must have had a fire under my ass on the way up! All in all it was a wonderful hike and roughly my half-way point to conquering all the 14ers in Colorado. 26 down, 27 left.