August 23rd 2013
Kit Carson Peak - Saguache County, CO - 14,171 ft (4,319 m)
Dry Dock Hefeweizen - Hefeweizen - 4.3% ABV
After the short rest on Challenger, it was time to set my sights on Kit Carson. I had read all about ‘the avenue’, a walkway that circles the steep face of Kit Carson and allows easy access to it’s summit. But as I looked at it from Challenger it really did worry me.
I descended down to the saddle between the two peaks on stable rock. I was greeted with a sign that read ‘DANGER: Loose rocks cliff. Many have died’. Got it, no short cuts, thanks sign. I looked up the avenue that I was to be walking across and my fears eased. It was easily 5 foot wide, and even then a fall would not be fatal.
Following the trail first up a bit, then down a bit, finally I reached the point to leave the avenue and attack the summit. Unfortunately that attack meant going through more scree. Fortunately it was only a few hundred vertical feet of it though.
After the scree was behind me I was at the summit, which again I had to myself. Here I was able to enjoy another brew not often seen in cans. Dry Dock’s award winning Hefe. This as long been a favorite of mine. Loads of banana up front, it really does represent a solid Bavarian Hefeweizen. No wonder it has won multiple golds at GABF in that category.
After taking in everything the summit had to offer, it was best time I started down. Back over the avenue, the sign of death, and back up the Challenger. Easy.
Then came the scree field again. By this point in the day it was around 11 o’clock and the crowds were just making their way to the top of the scree. At first it was small, 2/3 person groups who looked prepared and ready. They stepped lightly on rocks and when they did make the mistake and send some flying, they made sure to call out ROCK.
But eventually I began passing larger and larger groups. Five, seven, TEN?! Yikes. And it seemed that each was less prepared than the one before. And the ones that were moving slowly in tennis shoes, shorts, and a single water bottle in hand with nothing else also seemed to be the ones just digging their feet into the loose dirt and rock with every step sending all sorts of crap down the mountain. But they didn’t care. Oh well, I had my helmet on and was on my down, so I was ok.
At one point I stopped and waited for a group of ten-ish to pass as I was in a rough spot and knew I didn’t want to send anything tumbling their way. Most of the group had no gear other than the summer clothing they wore. The second to last to pass asked if I was a guide. Apparently having a helmet and trekking poles makes me look like I know what I am doing? I chuckled and hold her no, I just have done a few hikes before and had an idea what to expect.
After they passed I continued on my way down. Mostly on my feet, sometimes on my ass, but luckily never on my face. At one point I slipped, tried to jam my pole into the mountain to save balance, and SNAP. I tumbled a few feet and stopped. I looked around and found three poles. Turns out I snapped one of my carbon fiber poles right in half. Yikes. Well, better it than my arm or leg.
Eventually I was back in the willows and at camp. I was sore, but knew I still had to pack out that day. And that I did. Shoulders still sore from the day before, and all around aches setting in, I figured might as well just get it over with. Before I knew it was I looking at the lot and ready to be home.
It’s strange how an exhausting and tiring trip really can recharge you. While I am sore, I feel so much a better person now. I wish I could get on trips like this more often.
August 23rd 2013
Challenger Point - Saguache County, CO - 14,087 ft (4,294 m)
Santa Fe Brewing Saison ‘88 - Saison - 5.5% ABV
I seem to always have the ‘benefit’ of leaving jobs during summer. This time is a little different, and I only got two extra days between jobs. But I still needed something to clear my head and recharge the batteries. I decided to pack up all by my lonesome and make my first trek down to the Sangre de Cristo range.
The plan was to hike into Willow Lake and stay the night there and climb Challenger and Kit Carson in the morning. As I approached the trailhead near Crestone, CO I looked up at the mountain wall in front of me in awe. I began to wonder what I had been thinking. This range seems to come out of no where and shoot straight into the sky. After spending most the summer in the gentle Sawatch Range, the ruggedness appearance of the peaks here were worrisome yet welcome.
I started off on the trail with a very heavy load. It had been a while since I carried overnight gear, and I figured I was in much better shape now than before. You could say I overpacked a tad and probably had enough gear and food for 3, pushing 4, nights. And also a few cans of beer :). But no big deal, right?
Well, turns out I do have limits. Only about 2 miles into the trek, my legs burned and shoulders ached. Not the good aching after a hard days climb, but the sore, grumpy, ‘screw this’ kind of aches that I hadn’t felt in a while. As I pushed forward I found myself having to stop every 20 to 30 minutes for a breather. I just kept telling myself that no matter how tempting it may be, DO NOT TAKE OFF THAT PACK UNTIL YOU FIND CAMP.
Of course eventually I peeked over a hill and saw the lake. Finding a good spot to pitch tent I was able to finally rest. I was exhausted. But no rest for the wicked. Put the tent up, unpacked want I needed, and began to cook dinner. After sitting and eating I felt much better. I poked around the lake awhile, checked out the waterfall, and eventually settled on a ledge above the lake where I sat for a good two hours. Overlooking the lake as the sky grew dark I had a few beers and just lost myself in thought. It was what I needed.
The next morning I awoke at 4:30 and started off to Challenger Point. A short hike through willows quickly lead to easily one of my least favorite hikes ever. About 2000 vertical feet of scree, the first half of which has fairly well defined ‘trail’. Only about 300 vertical feet into it my legs and lungs hurt again from the day before. I had burnt them up, and the nights rest had barely recharged them. I looked up and the remaining route and just wanted to turn back. I hate scree. I hate being this exhausted. But I know more than that I hate quitting. I powered through it until eventually I gained the ridge. From there is was a great walk over to the summit, which I was lucky enough to have to myself.
And as my reward - a style of beer I rarely see in cans. Saison ‘88 is the 25th Anniversary brew from Santa Fe Brewing. It is an average saison, but nothing really special or worth seeking out. But that morning as I drank it I couldn’t imagine anything tasting sweeter. Soon it was time to move onto Kit Carson
August 17th 2013
Tabeguache Peak - Chaffee County, CO - 14,162 ft (4,317 m)
Renegade Brewing 5:00 Ale - Blonde Ale - 5% ABV
No time to rest on the summit of Shavano. Quick beer and picture and it was over the summit on the way to Tabeguache. Little bit of route finding down to the saddle between the two, but everything was solid rock or grass.
From the saddle it’s about 450 ft up to the summit. There is a decent trail, but just very loose and cruddy scree. Oh well, it’s short at least. The views north from this peak were incredible. Antero is sitting right in front of you, and you can see a long stretch of other Sawatch peaks in the distance. A lot less people here too.
Grabbed another light beer for this peak too. 5:00 Ale from Renegade may be 5%, but drinks much more like a session ale. Light on the body, hops, and malt, I feel like it had just enough of each to be drinkable. Not great, but not bad either.
August 17th 2013
Mount Shavano - Chaffee County, CO - 14,236 ft (4,339 m)
Boulder Beer Hoopla - American Pale Ale - 5.7 % ABV
The time has finally come - the wife gave me permission to start ticking off 14er peaks without her. She really hasn’t been enjoying some of the long slogs in the Sawatch range and doesn’t care about finishing all of them like I do.
So - I decided to start with Shavano/Tabeguache combo. First day hike I have done with over a mile in vertical elevation gain. Good test for some of the other routes I want to work up to. Got to the trailhead around 5:30 and just blazed up to the summit. The trail was very similar to others in this range, starting off in a nice forest for a while before treeline and finishing with a little class 2 rock/scree. Meh.
But the view from the top was wonderful. I have looked at this peak everytime I go over Monarch Pass and am happy to finally get the views from it. And since the wife isn’t there I got mount for the GoPro to attach it to my trekking pole for some easy shots. Seems like it worked really well.
The beer for the summit was one of my goto drinkin’ beers this time of year. Hoopla is a collab between Boulder Beer and the keyboardist from The String Cheese Incident. Easy drinking APA.
July 21st 2013
Missouri Mountain - Chaffee County, CO - 14,074 ft (4,290 m)
Eddyline Boater Beer - Pilsner - 4.5% ABV
Time for another 14er. With the wife working 6 days a week its hard to make the time to commit to something like this in a single day. Yet here we are.
Got to the parking lot around 6 and it was just about full, we got one of the last 3 spots. So keep that in mind if you ever want to try heading up there. Anyway, the trail wastes no time gaining elevation, as there are a large set of switchbacks almost immediately. After those die down you follow a nice river valley up to the split off between Missouri Mountain and Mount Belford. Seems like most people went to Belford instead.
After the split we followed the basin a while longer before starting up the scree/talus fields to get us to the ridge. Those were awful. But, once on the ridge it is an awesome little jaunt over to the summit. Lots of exposure without any real danger. I enjoyed this part greatly.
The beer to be enjoyed today was Eddyline’s Pils. Eddyline is a good little brewery in Buena Vista, CO. Figured it would be fitting to grab one of their beers since we were so close. Went with something nice and light, and this fit the bill great. Decent Pils, probably won’t win any awards, but it really hit the spot at the time.
July 14th 2013
Mount Logan - Park County, CO - 12,870 ft (3,923 m)
Dry Dock Hop Abomination - American IPA - 6.5% ABV
Well, I was on my own this weekend. Wife is busy with work and doesn’t like me dragging her along all the time. That’s ok - gives me a chance to check out something that might end up not working. Time for an off trail adventure!
Mount Logan is a often overlooked peak in the Mount Evans wilderness area. With two 14ers, and more 13ers, this little peak is seldom visited. Sounds like there is a trail to the summit from Guanella Pass, but I had read a few reports about people tackling it from Deer Creek Trailhead. This is one of my favorite places to hike close to town when I have stuff to do. You can seem some past adventures here, here, and here.
But this time I broke off the trail about .1 mile in. Followed a nice wide old access road for a while, and then it was time for some bushwhacking. Pretty quickly I found some what of a trail that I was able to use up to a nice small lake. But from there it was all me. And boy, do I make bad decisions sometimes. Everything was wet from rain still, and I was slipping all over the place. But eventually I made it through the willows and into steeper terrain and just focused on going up.
Got to the top and enjoyed the views. It was super peaceful, and even though I was so close to Denver, I felt totally alone. At this point I hadn’t seen a single person all day. Eventually I made my way back down, slipped on a few more logs and rocks, scrapped up my shins, hit my head, etc. You know, typical off trail problems. But it was wonderful. Got back to the car and packed up without seeing a single soul the entire trip.
The beer of the day was another Dry Dock. This time, their Hop Bomb. Can’t day I am a big fan of this one. Their normal IPA is much tastier, and there are better canned Colorado IPAs around. I say pass.
June 23rd 2013
Mount Massive - Lake County, CO - 14,428 ft (4,398 m)
Dry Dock Amber - ESB - 5.8% ABV
First 14er of the year! We really didn’t feel like taking the long way up Massive, so we decided to try out the Southwest slopes instead. This is about the same elevation gain as the ‘main’ route, but cuts out about 5 miles RT.
After a nice slow start the trail turns off and BAM, starts going straight up basically. At one point we get to a snow field that we cannot see then end of (over a ridge). We didn’t think we would need any snow gear so we didn’t have axes or spikes. We had a decision to make, try and go over the snow field or skirt around it up a gully filled with scree. Not wanting to fall to my death down a snow field I chose the safe route up the scree.
Well - that ended up being a giant pain. It was much longer than I thought, and the wife had a really hard time with it, probably more so than any other hike we have done. Eventually we got back to the trail only to look down and see the snow field ended at the ridge and would have been just fine. Oh well, better safe than sorry. We finish off the trail and make it to the summit for some of the best views I have seen.
And up there we got to enjoy Dry Dock’s Amber (formally ESB). Very solid ESB, and probably my favorite canned offering so far from them. And today it was highly satisfying.
June 16th 2013
Bison Peak - Park County, CO - 12,341 ft (3,789 M)
Dry Dock Apricot Blonde - Fruit Beer - 5.1% ABV
Well we were finally able to get on a great hike this summer. I have tried a few times already, with massive failures. One of them I even lost my dog for 8 hours. That was not a good day.
But this day was. The wife wasn’t sure she was ready to commit to a 14er yet (which is what I was really pushing for), so we settled on a lower peak that still had good distance and elevation gain. Bison peak fit that bill wonderfully. Around 12 miles round trip and 4k elevation gain is a great work up for larger trips later in the summer.
But the peak offers much more than just numbers. The rock formations at the summit were really something to behold. Right around tree line the trail opens to a huge plateau with some formations larger than life looming straight ahead. Tons of great scrambling/climbing could be done here.
The beer was our first from Dry Dock brewing, since they only began canning recently. Luckily for me (and unluckily for my liver) my wife works for them, so we get a lot. Yes - this beer is a heavily fruited beer. I don’t care. It’s great, and quickly becoming a go to while mowing or doing anything in the sun. Very refreshing and easy drinking. And I know I am not the only one who thinks so since it took GABF Gold in 2012.
December 25th 2012
Mount Morrison - Jefferson County, CO - 7,138 ft (2,176 m)
Upslope Christmas Ale - Belgian Strong Dark - 8.2% ABV
Christmas time. Always busy with family and friends. Of course that is not a bad thing, but it can limit time for outdoor fun. We thought it would be great if we could get up to Mount Morrison to watch the sun rise on xmas morning before having to be at our families house that morning. Well - we didn’t quite make it to the top before running out of time, but that didn’t make it any less awesome.
It snowed all night and was bitter cold, about 5 F when we started and not above 10 the whole time. But that just made it that much more beautiful. Honestly one of the more majestic feeling hikes I have ever been on. At one point a deer came hopping over the ridge maybe 50 feet from us - just bounding through fresh, untouched snow. It was like something out of a movie.
What a perfect beer to drink for our Christmas hike - Christmas Ale! A spicy winter warmer, but in a dubbel style beer. It plays well together, but still a very spiced beer.
December 16th 2012
Hells Hole - Clear Creek County, CO - 11,416 ft (3,480 m)
Sun King/Oskar Blues Chaka - Belgian Strong Pale - 8% ABV
Hells Hole is a great little hike near Mt Evans. This was the first real hike I went on while trying to get back into shape a few years ago. For that it will always be special for me. There really is no end point to the trail as it just tappers off into a meadow surrounded by peaks.
With winter here and neither the wife or myself having any avy training we decided to not go big and pick this simple trail. It was a wonderful hike with anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow along the whole route. The wind was mostly blocked the whole way, which we realized was nice one we got to the open meadow at the top. It was gusting up there like crazy. I am liking this idea of staying below tree line in the cold months…
Aluminum bottles are for mass made light beers, right? Not any more. Go figure it would be Oskar Blues to be the first to put a craft brew in one. Solid brew and I really enjoyed it.