Friday, October 25, 2013

Off Trail Hiking in the Gore

When the flowers were in full bloom we took a weekend backpacking trip into the southern portion of the Gore Range. We had planned a different and much more technical route, but everything worked out for the best with this pared down, fun route.

We hiked up the Gore Range trail towards Red Buffalo Pass, something I had only skied down once before. The are loads of camping options just on this trail and in the future I am sure we will be back on shorter hikes. The waterfall was pretty and a nice swim in the heat of the day.

Near the top we stopped for a short food break and to say bye to Mark as he ran back down the trail to the car at the trailhead. We continued on with the intent to summit Red Peak and then perhaps go down to Willow Lakes and spend the night there. As we were hiking up the ridge to Red Peak my feet and ankles were hurting me bad, so I went down to a nice shoulder and Kate continued up to the summit.

The campsite was very scenic with views of Zodiac ridge, the Thorne, Hail Peak and more to the North, and views of Eccles and more to the South. To the West we could see the Sawatch and more! To make matters better there was a nice snow drift where we could get water for dinner and drinks.

In the morning we decided to make our way to Snow Pass and so headed down the grassy slope west of Zodiac Ridge. Down there we found some amazing views and flowers, but it would not compare to Snow Lake!


We set out across country and over one small ridge and down before we hit this stream flowing out of Snow Lake and followed it up. At one point the flowers were so thick we considered hiking above the meadow rather than through it to save the flowers from our feet.

Snow Lake has a rather large terminal moraine so you don't see the water until you are right next to it. It is quite deep and cold, which made for a fantastic swim!

The hike up Snow Pass is very easy and were up there in no time. However, the large herd of goats that were at the top moved off by the time we got up and they didn't come close again.

When we got to the top of Snow Pass we had some extra time, so we gave Snow Peak a try. Last year we tried it from the other side and had difficulty getting over the ridge. Thankfully it is a relatively easy scramble from Snow Pass. We had hoped to also hike Valhalla, but due to time constraints that is saved for another day.


We did scout the ridge extending west from Hail for a potential ridge traverse from the Thorne to Valhalla and the section we were on was class 2 max, though I do think Hail may be a bit more challenging.

We hiked out Deluge and man, that trail sucks! It was the longest shortest hike I can recall.

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