James Peak 13,294 ft.
14 miles/4,635 vert./3:35 Garmin Data
On Friday, my in-laws called to ask if I would mind if they came up to visit the girls on Saturday. Being in the middle of 3 long consecutive days of baby duty, this came as a very welcome relief. With only 6 or so hours to work with, I needed to keep the drive short in order to maximize the run and opted for James Peak from the Moffatt tunnel.
Headed up the trail toward Heart/Rogers Peak Lakes and was moving at a decent clip. Once near tree line, I got off the trail and headed up the valley in a SW direction toward the N. slopes of James. I was slowed a bit through this section, as I went out of my way to photograph the abundant wildflowers and the occasional waterfall which required some circuitous navigating through the willows and krummholz.
From the head of the valley, I made a pretty efficient beeline, up the fall line, 2,000 more vertical to the summit of James in about a half hour. Spent a few minutes on top enjoying the view and then headed N. along the divide. The initial ~1,000 feet dropping off the summit was like running down a steep golf course, just perfect grass and solid boulders. I initially started off sticking to the ridgeline along the divide, but the talus hopping was a bit slower than I had time for, so I soon jumped on the well worn trail on the W. side of the ridge which made for some quick and efficient running.
Having already visited Heart Lake and Iceberg Lakes on previous trips (as recently as last week), I was hoping to check out Crater Lakes just to the North for something new. Since the trail I was on was below the ridge line, I had to head back up to the divide proper and keep peeking over to gauge my progress and eventually found Crater Lakes. Getting down to the lakes required heading East on a small ridge just South of the lake and then a really steep descent to the W. side of upper Crater. Careful route finding kept me mostly on very steep grass, maybe some of the steepest I have ever been on, requiring the occasional hand dab.
The descent from the lakes was amazing, it was really wet (aided by the fact that it was starting to rain) and quite lush, just bursting with wildflowers and waterfalls and I again got caught up taking pictures of my favorite wildflower of all time, the Columbine.
This run was incredibly satisfying, just to get out and see a variety of terrain and do a bit of exploring and not really thinking about time goals, training, Pikes, etc.... I pushed pretty hard at times and very easy at others, just completely absorbed in my surroundings and got lost taking pictures. A great time.
The head of the valley before the 2,000 foot steep climb up James Peak
Looking toward Grays/Torreys (way off in the distance)
Looking back up at James from the divide
Heart Lake, where we hiked with the girls on 4th of July
Winter Park and threatening skies (it did eventually rain, but it felt good and there was no electricity)
Iceberg Lakes with James in the background
Upper Crater Lake (descended ridge in center of picture, R to L, then straight down pretty much)
The next lake (or pond) down
One of the two lower lakes. Many great camping spots around the lake too (though not an original idea).
Looking SW along the divide. Need to explore some of those peaks soon.
Met up with a guy named Johnny from Denver at the summit of St. Vrain, who was wearing a cotton 2006 PPA t-shirt (one which for some reason I do not own or remember?). We chatted about PPA 2006 and 2008 and we exchanged taking photographs for one another.