Saturday, January 31, 2009
Headed up Signal Mountain this morning for killer views of Rocky Mountain National Park, the Mummies, Longs and Meeker.
We set out from the Conoco on 34 and got to the Dunraven Trailhead at around 6:45. It was still dark out, which was nice as we would get to see the early sunrise from some great spots on the opening climb.
There are multiple options from Dunraven, including a great 20 mile out-and-back on the North Fork Trail to Lost Lake, but today we were heading straight up, from approximately 8,000' at the TH to 11,250' at the summit with somewhere between 5 and 6 miles of trail to the top.
Chad and I were both up for a very easy effort today, and with the amount of snow on the ground we certainly weren't going to be chugging. The opening stretch is a short climb on jeep track to the trail-proper, which climbed out of the Dunraven Valley to the ridgeline and the Bulwark Ridge Trail. This section was mostly clear and good running. We stopped to snap a few photos before we got into the trees.
Once into the forest, the amount of snow underfoot increased significantly, making the climb a lot more tiring. For the first mile or two it was reasonable and we were able to push through without too much exertion, but once past an intersection in the trail there were some pretty stout and lengthy uphill pitches, with snow getting deeper and deeper.
We pushed on to about 10,500' (according to Chad's altimeter), by which time we were post-holing to about knee deep, and beginning to lose the trail.
With 700 feet of climbing and another mile or so of knee-deep snow to the summit, we decided to call it a day at a great lookout spot on the ridge, which afforded crystal clear views of Twin Sisters, Longs, Meeker and the Mummy Range. Well worth the effort.
Sisters to the left, Meeker and Longs to the right.
We cantered back down, enjoying the cushy ride, for a total of 8 to 9 miles. Felt like much more.
Can't wait to get back there in the summer for a clear run to the summit, and to link up with some high mountain Mummy trails from CSU's Pingree Park.