Thursday, September 4, 2014

Huron Peak

After a rough start on Culebra Peak and a much easier time on Mount Princeton, I was feeling better about doing Huron Peak. Huron Peak is 14,003 feet, one of the shorter fourteeners. The trailhead is quite close to the trailhead for La Plata Peak, which I did last year, and not all that far beyond the trailhead to Belford and Oxford which I did several years ago. The thing that held me back from climbing it in previous years was the road to the trailhead described on the website as "rugged and narrow (4WD required)" for a little over two miles. If you skip the "rugged and narrow" part of the road, the hike is 10.75 miles and 3,800 feet of elevation gain. If you do the road, the hike is shortened to 6.5 miles and 3,500 feet of elevation gain. Why hike an extra four miles?
Huron Peak, as viewed from Missouri Mountain. I hiked up the ridge on the right side.
After the Mt. Princeton road the day before, this one was a piece of cake. Relatively flat road, quite a few turnouts, not too rocky, and only one spot where I had any clearance concerns. The road to La Plata Peak last year was much more difficult. 

I started hiking about 6:30 a.m. The trailhead is at 10,560 feet. The first half mile switchbacks through forest with lots of green. At about 11,900 feet you go beyond tree line and reach a large basin. The Three Apostles, three pointy peaks are to the right and La Plata Peak is off to the left. You hike into the basin which has a small stream running through it, the high point being about 12,300 feet. 
La Plata Peak is right of center. 
A closer view of La Plata Peak. I did the ridge on the left side last year.
Two of the three Apostles are to the left, one them with the peak in the clouds.
The trail leading into the basin. Huron Peak is to the right.
Cresting a hill and further into the basin. 
At the end of the basin, the trail goes steeply up a flanking ridge north of the peak, then starts to move south and switchback up the grassy north side of the mountain. At about 13,700 feet you reach a rocky ridge crest that allows you to look over the other side. Then on to the summit block, the last 200 feet is described on as a "steep section...[that] is the crux of the route..." It is relatively steep, but there is no major boulder hopping and no difficult route finding, so I wouldn't refer to it as a "crux." The weather had been good until I got to the summit block. As I got there clouds came over and it got very cold. When I reached the summit at 9:35 the visibility was very limited and I was quite cold, as cold as I can remember being on a peak in some time. I took a few pictures, got my picture taken by one of two other people on the summit at that time, and I headed back down after 10 minutes or less on the summit. After I dropped 200 feet visibility returned. 
At the end of the basin the trail starts to go up more steeply up the back wall.
Huron Peak is to the right (south), the summit not visible at this point.
Looking back across the basin.
Nearing the summit block.
Looking back down. Hikers are visible below.
A little more to the left. The basin as seen from above.
The summit block. The trail winds around to the right and then up the side.
The mist covered summit as I approach.
The summit. Two hikers who arrived shortly after I did.
They took my picture, the background showing how what would have been a great summit view was now nothingness.
I spent time talking to a family (father, mother and two young boys, about 8 and 12) from Denver on the hike out. It got me a little nostalgic watching the father and his younger sons, reminding me of my days in the Sierras with my young sons. 
The basin from much lower and a different angle.
I finished the hike at 11:50, just about two hours and five minutes from when I left the summit, an hour less than it took me to go up. 

Huron is a little more interesting than Princeton. You do have some time in the trees which is nice, and the long grassy bench, but there is nothing too difficult or intriguing about it. I made it down fine, feeling good.     

1 comment:

  1. I think they make those roads to the hike so rough to discourage all but the most dedicated of hikers. Beautiful scenery on this hike!