On the very first day of July we set out to Lake City, CO, a hub of five or so 14ers. Although we could have completed quite a few, after last year's quite tiring first 14er of the season trek to the top of Mt. Shavano, we decided our first one this year should be a nice easy one. One that wouldn't make us never want to climb on ever again.
Turns out Handies Peak was just the ticket! After a short and lovely drive from Grand Junction to Lake City we fueled up at a cute little gas station on burgers and fries (that's right, not gas! Gas is way way way way WAY too expensive in Lake City!) and began our 20 mile bumpy drive up to the American Basin trailhead. The road was pretty pleasant for the most part. Got semi-4x4-ish in places. A little hairy around some edges. And was swarmed with Jeeps and ATVs. Though my little Jeep Compass was a not-so-tough looking crossover, it fit right in with the rest of it's family and got us all the way to the trailhead without a single worry! After passing the trailhead for Sunshine and Redcloud Peaks, they say that a lot of the crossovers that have a shorter wheel base and 2-wheel drives shouldn't attempt the stream crossing that lies .09 miles from the Handies trailhead, but my lil Jeep comes equip with 9" of ground clearance, all-terrain tires and skid plates! We're going through! Cinch! And next almost mile is quite rough as well.
We rolled in sometime in the early evening on Saturday, and there was only one other car parked at the trailhead. This surprised us as there is usually a flood of cars that arrive throughout the evening to climb the next day. The other car was a small family of a mom and dad and their 11 month old little boy from Los Alamos, NM. They were doing exactly what we had planned. Set up a tent, sleep, wake up and hike!
We enjoyed nearly pristine air (far enough away from all of the surrounding fires burning in Colorado), crisp clear skies and the sounds of birds, marmots, pikas and a stream (oh and a little guitar playing too)! And here's our little adventure!
|The American Basin Trailhead|
|Our cozy sleeping spot|
|M plays wonderful tunes!|
|Sunset on the surrounding ridges|
|Our morning sound alert!|
|The Handies Ninja|
|I found me some snow!|
|Hangin out over Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre!|
|Our lil neighbor of the night made it all the way up!|
|Quite a few more groups showed up by the time we got back down.|