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Topic: TR: Gore Range (Colorado) July 2-6< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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cweston Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 2:17 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow! The Gore Range was fantastic. We had a beautiful mix of on-trail and off-trail travel on our 5-day trip. The Gore Range is the only place I've been in Colorado where the ruggedness of the mountains rivals that of my beloved North Cascades. It's simply dumbfounding that this area is not more popular (but I'm glad that it isn't).

Day Zero (Mon July 1): we left Manhattan, KS at the crack of dawn, in order to leave time for a warmup dayhike to Wheeler Lakes in the SE Gore Range. The hike itself was a bit meh, but it really helps us flatlanders acclimate to climb up to 11,000+ the day before the hike and then sleep low.

Day 1 (Tue July 2): We set out at about 8:00 from lower Piney Lake. We are the only car at the trailhead and we see no one all day. The trail is a superhighway for about 3 miles, then becomes a boot-built trail. We see a bear, deer, and grouse in the first 2 miles. The trail gets very sketchy at some beaver ponds at about 10,500, but we have little trouble routefinding from there to the upper basin at about 11,100. The snow began at about 10,600 in this north-facing drainage. Upper Piney Lake and the surround basin are flat-out spectacular, with step walls on three sides, dominated by The Spider. We make a most spectacular camp above the lake in the last few scrubby trees at about 4:00. The marmots here are very aggressive--one chewed my son's shoulder strap pretty badly.

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Day 2 (Wed, July 3)
We decided to attempt The Fly from our camp, knowing that the standard route is from the opposite side of the ridge (from West Booth Pass). It looked like it could be kept at class 2+ or 3, though. We were within about 200 vertical feet of the summit ridge when we called it--the only route we could see was across a very steep snowfield with basically unlimited exposure--if you lost your feet, there's little chance you'd have time to self-arrest before you were in a life-threatening fall. It was worth the climb to a very scenic lunch spot, though.

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Day 3 (Thur, July 4)
We celebrated Independence Day by making a long off-trail circuit around The Spider--over East Booth pass, down the Booth drainage and over West Booth Pass, then down the west fork Piney drainage and back up to to our camp at Upper Piney Lake. There was quite a bit of snow on both sides of E Booth pass, which was a spectacular place. The tarn (still partially frozen)  a bit below the pass on the Booth Creek side was most beautiful. We attempted to stay high traversing from Booth Lake--this was a huge mistake, as we ended up cliffed out and had to downclimb an uncomfortably steep slope about 1,000 feet to the west fork of the Booth drainage before climbing to West Booth pass. We also made the same mistake trying to traverse around The Spider, and ended up downclimbing again in very unfriendly talus/boulder terrain.

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Word to the wise: in this range, always assume that any route is steep, nasty, and likely impossible unless you can see differently or unless you have received first-hand knowledge otherwise. We should have just dropped initially in both cases and we'd have saved ourselves some grief.

I can't even imagine what our gross elevation gain/loss was this day, but the scenery was astounding.

Day 4 (Fri, July 5)
We broke camp and headed back down the Piney drainage, seeing our first humans of the trip on the way out of the upper basin. It rained on and off most of this day, as opposed to the regular afternoon/evening brief storms of the other days. We took the super-steep climbers route up to the basin below Mt. Powell and Peak C. (Routefinding is challenging but not impossible--if anyone wants more details, let me know.) We make camp under the last trees in this spectacular basin, which we are surprised to have to ourselves (well, except for the marmots) on a Friday night. (But you've got to really want it to haul a full pack up here.)

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Day 5 (Sat, July 6)
It stormed during the night (no *really* close lightning, thankfully, but not much sleep.) It's clearing, so we take off at about 6:30 toward Knee-Knocker Saddle and Mt. Powell. A couple things about this route: it is class 2, and there is a pretty decent path all the way up to the saddle, but don't be fooled--it is hard. The slope is STEEP, the scree is loose and the dirt is soft from last night's rain. We make Knee-Knocker at about 7:45.

What a place, between the slopes of Powell and Peak C, which is spectacularly steep, rugged, and massive. There is a pretty nasty cornice above the steep (and, I'd say, permanent) snowfield on the far side of the saddle. My son was not eager to drop down it (which is where the class 2 route to Powell's summit ridge goes), so we called it. (Crampons would have been very helpful here.)

No problem--it was a spectacular trip without summiting Powell. We make our way down the rough climbers path. At one point where the route more-or-less disappears we ended up beating through some of the most dense willow thickets I've ever seen. The last three trail miles go quickly, but are surreal, what with the approximately 1,000 well-dressed, nice-smelling dayhikers from Piney Ranch that we pass on the way out.

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This area absolutely knocked my socks off.

Showers at the Silverthorne Rec Center ($5) and burgers and beers at the Dillon Dam Brewery were most refreshing on the way out--thanks Lamebeaver for the suggestions.

Visit the Gore Range. Just do it. Take ice axes if you plan to travel off trail unless it's August (maybe even then). You will not be disappointed.

100 pics on Flickr
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 3:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oops--this was supposed to be the first pic from day 5.

Peak C from Knee-Knocker Saddle:

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Lamebeaver Search for posts by this member.
trail? I don't need no stinkin trail!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 4:05 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Glad you had a nice trip!  Considering how easy it is to access from Denver, it really is amazing how wild and remote this area remains, but as you've discovered, it's pretty rugged

Great photos too!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 6:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Stunning stuff CW, thanks for sharing.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 6:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow...just WOW! Beautiful!!!

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"...in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks."   ~ John Muir
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 7:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Looks beautiful and sounds rugged and grueling.  Great trip!

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“In the wilderness man learns to have faith in his Creator.”
     — Finis Mitchell
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Colorado Dreamin'
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 9:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Gorgeous pictures!

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 11:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great Report !!

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Want to see The Wind River Range in widescreen 1080p ?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 12:10 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very, very nice.  Great photos and sounds like a great trip.  Got to get down there myself in the not too distant future.

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"Too often I have met men who boast only of how many miles they've traveled and not of what they've seen."  -  Louis L'Amour
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 11:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Excellent report.  One of the seldom-hiked areas because of other more familiar areas east and west.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 10 2013, 2:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One of the greatest Trail Reports I've ever seen! Great pix and excellent narrative.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 12 2013, 5:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice trip! I was also in the Gores over July 4 weekend. We did the slog up to Upper Slate lake. Brutal and worth every step.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 12 2013, 5:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(ScottRappold @ Jul. 12 2013, 4:33 pm)
QUOTE
Nice trip! I was also in the Gores over July 4 weekend. We did the slog up to Upper Slate lake. Brutal and worth every step.

Tell me about your route--that looks like a very remote part of the range indeed.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 12 2013, 5:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Start from the Rock Creek TH, wind north on the Gore Range Trail with a ton of up and down for 5 miles, then turn left on the Slate Creek Trail. It's mellow across a broad meadow with stunning flowers, but gets steep to lower Slate Lake (pretty but not the best destination) and then crazy steep, 1,000 feet in a mile, to the upper lake. One of the prettiest lakes I've ever visited, and we saw 2 people over 2 days. Some amazing campsites a few minutes' walk clockwise around the lake. total 9.3 miles and approx 4,000 feet of gain
Another shot:
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 12 2013, 6:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Seems more doable than I imagined. Is there an actual trail to the upper lake?
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 16 2013, 5:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yep. A steep but good trail
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