Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sharing the Mountains...Missouri, Oxford and Belford Loop Trip Report

The great Coloradan past time seems to be peak bagging. More specifically, peak bagging 14ers. Living in an area of CO plentiful with 14ers, I developed an early evasion to hiking/running 14ers. More interested in concocting routes through areas that were less traveled, it wasn't until 3 years ago that I finally gave in and ran my first 14er, Castle Peak, just down the road. As expected, there were armies of people from all walks of life and from all over the country out to 'bag the peak'. The 14er does not exist as the quiet place you go to get away from it all. It doesn't sit in secret. It can't because it's too tall. People are attracted to the idea of climbing the highest peak and so these mountains sit squarely in the radar of many. Taking this into consideration, I look at tackling 14ers as a way to share the mountain with others. Look at any trip report and you will notice an account of both the route taken and the people encountered. And so here is my own trip report.

A few days ago, my buddy Casey Weaver and I decided to hit three 14ers in the Collegiate Peaks through a classic loop. The route would take us up Missouri Gulch to Missouri Mountain, and then back down and over to Elkshead Pass where we would then hit Mount Oxford and Belford. The route was steep from the beginning and made for some difficult running. The route had 8000'~ of climbing and took us around 4 hours and 20 minutes. All along the way people were awesome...until we began our descent down Missouri. As we neared the end of the descent, fully in the mellow only mountains can bring, we passed a guy who twisted his face into a grimace and shushed us. The grumpy pants mumbled to us to slow down and stop talking because he wanted peace and quiet. He had apparently been yelling at everyone on the trail as he went along. I understand his desire to escape to the solitude of nature, but he was so focused on the people he forgot that he was sitting in a rad place many will never see. Lesson: Stop, look around and appreciate what you got. And don't harsh other peoples' mellow.

Casey just above tree line

Casey heading toward Missouri

Rock field before steeper climbing up Missouri

On the ridge. Missouri just ahead

Going back down Missouri toward Belford and Oxford

Casey on top of Elkshead Pass

On top of Belford

View from the top of Belford, Oxford off to the left