TH: Stoney Pass
Partners: Allison and Sierra
8.46 miles (starting from Wellington Lake)
6:43 Round Trip (~4 hours moving time, yeah, we stopped a lot)
Having made an attempt at Buffalo in May, 2008, I was simultaneously eager to get back there and finally make the summit, yet not too excited, knowing how slow and tedious the terrain is.
Allison and I had a full day and a half without the twins, so we were eager to get out to Lost Creek Wilderness for a hike and maybe catch some waning Fall foliage. We initially were set on a repeat of Bison/McCurdy, but after spending Friday afternoon/evening transporting 3 tons of crushed stone and a massive pile of woodchips to the back yard, along with all the associated landscaping work, I was too exhausted to even think about packing, getting up early or doing anything physical.
After 9.5 hours of solid sleep (amazing how well one can sleep without kids in the house), I felt refreshed, so we packed quickly and were out the door a bit after 8am. We still had no idea where we were going in LCW, we just headed up 285 with Roach book in hand. We narrowed it down to Windy (new for Allison, but a repeat for me), or Buffalo, which would be new for both of us and soon committed to Buffalo, as it is only 5.2 miles.
A few miles down Park County Road 68, South of Bailey we started to encounter snow and ice on the road and I suspected that we would not be able to make it to the trailhead on the steeper, North facing Stoney Pass. Just beyond Wellington Lake, there was a reasonably deep creek crossing, followed by a steep icy grade where I would have no momentum to even have a chance, so we turned around and parked, which would add an extra 3 miles to our hike. The walk up the road was a pleasurable warm up in the warming sun and led us through some brilliant aspen groves. The road, as remembered got steeper and as expected got icier, which validated my decision to park where we did. AWD and studded snow tires or chains would have been a must on this morning.
A beautiful start to the day
Some lingering, but very limited Fall foliage
Sierra sporting her finest Winchester hunting vest (yes, it is hunting season and we heard a lot of distant gun shots, but fortunately nothing close)
Looking North toward Mt. Evans with the Castle and Wellington Lake in the foreground
"Spiking up" on the ascent (Microspikes went on/came off numerous times on the up due to varying snow quality)
Starting to look like Winter
View to the South
The West (true) summit from the East summit (Windy Peak just beyond to the left)
Looking back at the East (lower) summit from the West summit
Looking NE with Wellington Lake far below
Windy Peak ~4.5 miles away