Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, 9/17/08 Evans, Epaulet, "Epaulie"

Mt. Evans, Epaulet Mountain, “Epaulie”
~19.4 miles
~5,500 vertical
6:47 RT
TH: Abyss Lake

Needing to take some pictures and notes on the route to Abyss Lake for an upcoming CMC guidebook, I headed up there to review the trail and refresh my memory of the area. I got on the trail at 7:42am and started jogging at an easy pace, just trying to put some of the easier and familiar trail behind me quickly. After the first creek crossing, the views opened up and I had to bust out the camera. The aspens in this valley are slowly starting to change, maybe 25% at this point, but the trail went through a nice yellow grove where the warm morning sun was illuminating the forest, absolutely stunning.

I got a little carried away with picture taking and would for shorts periods of time forget that I had an agenda for the day. This became the theme, as I would jog for a while, then find great photo ops and space out for a bit. Once the trail neared tree line and got a bit steeper, the heavyish day pack made it’s presence known and I resigned to hiking.

The lake at 11,730 was flooded by beaver activity and I had a nice willow romp around the East side trying to not get wet. Soon after, the trail merged with a creek and it was a challenge to stay dry. Once out of the willows, it was easy cruising the remainder of the way to Abyss Lake on a nice trail and I arrived there at 10am. I took a long break here, drinking in the scenery and serenity. The morning was warm and calm, the only noise to be heard was the occasional marmot or pika.

My plan was pretty loose and I debated turning back, but with Evans and Bierstadt looming overhead, how could I pass them up? I worked my way up the steep slopes of Mt. Evans, gained the ridge and then traversed over to the summit. On the summit, I saw the first and only people I would see all day, a few groups of two who had hiked up from Summit Lake and several cyclists. I took another long break here and debated my options. I wanted to take Sawtooth over to Bierstadt, but I was not sure if there would be much snow/ice and there was a pesky dark cloud developing overhead. Since nobody really knew where I was, I decided to play it safe and head over to Epaulet and “Epaulie” since I had not climbed them before.

The trip over there was easy, but perhaps a bit longer than it looks. I took great pleasure in shortcutting the switchbacks in the road, as I always think about this when running or biking the road. From “Epaulie”, I headed West, then NW down a grassy gulley to re-connect with the Abyss Lake Trail at around 12,200 feet. Once on the trail, I jogged most of the way out, splashing through the creek and the lake, too lazy to avoid getting wet. I arrived at the car at 2:29pm, with dark and stormy skies at my back. This was a great route and a nice casual day out.


1 comment:

  1. Wait a sec ... are you contributing to the CMC book?