2014 Pikes Peak Marathon

2014 Pikes Peak Marathon
2014 Pikes Peak Marathon, Ready to Rock (or be rocked)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Saturday, 12/11/10 A new route on Green Mountain

For years, I have been eyeing the steep and narrow canyon, adjacent to the rock outcrop/overlook near the top of Gregory Canyon. This canyon creates the deep North/South cleft between Saddle Rock and lower Greenman and has been luring me since first noticing it, so I decided on somewhat of a whim to finally get off trail and do some exploring.

I started up the Gregory Canyon Trail shortly after 2pm, jogged easy to a point just beyond the second wooden bridge and then dropped down into the bush choked canyon. Progress up the canyon was slow, as the walls narrowed and the Gregory Canyon Trail soon seemed to soar quite the distance above. Before long, the canyon steepened as it turned SW, then South, leading to a pronounced headwall.

Staying in the center of the canyon proved to be impossible through this section, as the creek had frozen here into a nice waterfall of ice. This was easily bypassed to climbers right on a nice (but a little exposed) ledge system and immediately the canyon became relatively level again. From here on, the going continued to be slow and somewhat tedious at times when sticking to the canyon floor. I encountered a real tangle of bushes (sometimes thorny), deadfall, mossy rocks and boulders, ice etc…., as I stuck to my arbitrary “rule” of staying within 10 vertical feet of the canyon floor.  At any time, I could have made quicker progress on the relatively clear hillsides above. 

It never ceases to amaze me how getting off trail just a little bit can bring such a sense of isolation and adventure. I could have reached a busy trail in 5-10 minutes in any direction, but it felt like I may have well have been in Alaska. After 47 minutes of hunching over, crawling, zig zagging, shimmying, back tracking, extricating myself from leg grabbing bushes, galumphing and getting slapped in the face with branches, I finally intersected with the Greenman Trail, exactly where I anticipated a few minutes below the Saddle Rock junction. It was a welcome relief to be on the familiar and well travelled trail, which I continued on to the summit, then down Ranger/Gregory so I could view bits of my ascent route from afar. My only regrets were not having a camera, thicker gloves, eye/face protection, or good company to share the exploration with.


Splits:

Intersect with Greenman Trail below Saddle Rock jct.: 47

Summit: 1:04

Descent: 29 (easy with a few stops)

6 comments:

  1. Cool route! I think that might be South Falls? Named on some map that I saw somewhere. A way that a barefoot hippie that I met at Gregory trailhead showed me once: when you're going up Gregory, about 20 feet before you get to the Crown Rock junction, there's a social trail that goes straight left down to the creek. There's also a fainter trail that veers slightly left - goes SW through the bushes, crosses the creek, and ascends to a view of the falls from the east. I haven't gone up it any farther, though, but it's a pretty good trail at least as high as I took it.

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  2. Thanks Alex. Could be the same area, but if you got off the Gregory Canyon Trail near the Crown Rock junction, it would probably be a ~30 minute bushwhack along/up the drainage to get to the point where I got off the trail beyond the second bridge and then another 10-15 to the actual headwall/falls. I never noticed any social trails or game trails in this area. Either way, lots of cool stuff to explore. Would be fun to do this again when the water is really flowing with Spring runoff.

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  3. Let me know when you find the 15 minute route. I need a new PR.

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  4. Definitely not this route, you will automatically incur a half hour penalty. It is worth it though.

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  5. I have eyeballed that canyon from the flagstaff road.. thanks for scouting it jeff.

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  6. Hey, Jeff - next time you're up there, check out that social trail - I think we're still talking about the same area. Just make sure that when you leave the Gregory trail, you take the fainter trail that goes just a bit left and up-valley (not the one that goes straight south down to the creek). It goes west up the floor of Gregory for a bit, then crosses the creek, and does a long ascending traverse to the west on the south slopes of the canyon. Might even continue up to something higher, but we just stopped when we saw a view of the falls. Cool stuff back there... We were up there in the spring once and there was quite a bit of flow in the falls.
    By the way, my dad and I ran into you a couple years back on a trip up Cyclone and Carbonate - we talked a bit about Pikes, if I recall.

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